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May 16, 2007 at 11:10 PM

Mariners can’t get it done

Seattle had it’s chances in this 5-0 loss, but they ended when Richie Sexson and Jose Guillen failed to get any runners home with the bases loaded and one out in that sixth inning. Sexson was the first guy out at his locker stool after the game, waiting for the media throng he knew would seek him out.
“Without a doubt, we needed to score there and didn’t get it done,” Sexson said of that sixth inning. “That was frustrating for me and the team. A complete letdown right there not to get any runs.”
Sexson took that .429 average off John Lackey into the game and it isn’t often a pitcher will walk somebody intentionally to get to a guy with those kinds of numbers. But the determining factor in the decision to walk Raul Ibanez to get to Sexson was their respective numbers with runners in scoring position.
Ibanez entered the night hitting .429 in such situations this season, Sexson only .200.
“Richie is tough. He’s dangerous, it’s not an easy decision,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But John (Lackey) was more comfortable going about it that way. Ibanez is really tough with runners in scoring position. You’ve got to roll the dice sometimes and John felt better with the matchups coming up.”
Lackey rolled them and came up double sixes. He used his sinker to get Sexson to pull a grounder to the left side for a third straight time, resulting in a force out at home. He then fanned Jose Guillen in a nine-pitch at-bat and that was it.
I thought the bullpen, especially Eric O’Flaherty, really let Cha Seung Baek down in that three-run seventh.
Nothing like bringing in a lefty specialist and having him walk the guy he entered to face, which is what O’Flaherty did with Chone Figgins. O’Flaherty then yielded the single to right that a salivating Guillen — who’d been showing off his newly-strengthened arm all night with some dazzling throws to third base — overran in his haste to attempt a play at the plate with the runner rounding third.
But the truth is, the game ended with Sexson and Guillen. Baek pitched well enough after that rough first inning. The Mariners felt he was throwing too many breaking balls early on and ordered him to use the fastball more, which he did and achieved better results. But it was too late.
With pitchers of Lackey’s quality, when you spot them an early lead, they’re lethal. Like with Kelvim Escobar the night before, the key for Sexson and company tonight was to try to jump on Lackey early. That didn’t happen when Ichiro was stranded at third with one out in that first inning, and Lackey found a groove from there. Escobar never had a chance to get into that groove on Tuesday. That was the difference here.
So, the rubber match tomorrow night. If the Mariners take it, they still have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after a two-week stretch against contenders. Dating back to that make-up game at Fenway Park two weeks ago tomorrow night, Seattle is now 6-7 against the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Angels. It gets easier, at least on paper, in the weeks ahead.
Just one side note I know some of you will enjoy: I ran into longtime acquaintance Kelvim Escobar in the Angels clubhouse after the game, caught up briefly and mentioned all the good-natured heat some of you have been giving me on this blog over my touting of his skill and his getting routed last night. I left out the “man crush” insults, but he was still genuinely amused and wants to look some of it up (is a big Web surfer) tomorrow. He promised that a repeat performance won’t be happening again any time soon. We’ll see. Not quite like getting K-Rod to surf the Cheater’s Guide to Baseball website, but hey, I’m new at this and we’ll take what we can get.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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