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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 3, 2007 at 9:16 AM

A strong beginning

Now, this is the type of hangover Mariners fans can get used to. It won’t get much better than what we saw yesterday from the Mariners. We’ll ignore, for a moment, the fact that they mustered up only four hits. But when you can win a game with just a four-hit attack, it means something. Means there was some timely hitting, which Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez did provide.
Also, that the guy on the mound was lookling pretty good. Put it this way, it took Felix Hernandez all the way until May 9 of last season before he could put together an outing of eight innings. This bodes very well for the team. The Mariners won’t need Hernandez to strike out 12 batters every night. What they will need from him, what every team needs from an ace, is to pick up wins while going deep into games. It allows the bullpen to rest up, or, in cases like yesterday, where the bullpen is fresh, it can give guys like J.J. Putz the equivalent of an extra spring training session.
Tonight will be an even bigger test for the Mariners. We all know now that their staff ace can win. The big question is what the next four guys in the rotation can do. Jarrod Washburn needs a big year if this team is to go anywhere in 2006. Now would be a good time to start. Washburn has been saying for weeks that he’s ready. So, have at it.
Some interesting performances around the game by ex-Mariners.
After a rough first inning, due largely to nerves, $55-million man Gil Meche had himself quite a debut.
Rafael Soriano threw 20 pitches and walked a batter. But he didn’t allow a run. He is one of the reasons folks in Atlanta are buzzing about the bullpen.
In AL West action, the Angels did what they were supposed to. No, they are not just going to fold up and go away because of some pitching injuries. Told you Justin Speier would be an undervalued bullpen addition.
One of our regulars, Joe, emailed me to ask who the Mariners would go with if J.J. Putz can’t answer the bell in the ninth. We put this question to Mike Hargrove yesterday and he gave us the “mix and match” answer. In other words, depending on the hitter, the situation, etc., it would be one of either Chris Reitsma, Brandon Morrow or Julio Mateo. We saw Putz pitch the ninth yesterday and I came away with a somewhat mixed impression.
It was good to see him not allow a run after that leadoff double, but, truth be told, in a one-run game, the A’s would have played it differently. In other words, they would have done more to get Milton Bradley over to third base with just one out and chances are, he would have scored from there unless Putz started striking hitters out. Putz didn’t fan anyone in yesterday’s game. He is still rounding into game shape. So, our question from Joe could become a relevant one over the next few days.



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