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May 17, 2007 at 11:11 PM

Bad finish to a good stretch

So, this one ends in a 7-3 loss, leaving the Mariners three games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Angels. Good thing the M’s got to Kelvim Escobar so early in the opener on Tuesday. Seattle never truly seemed a threat to come back and win after falling behind early in the final two games of the series.
Just to put a stop to all the hate-mail flooding my inbox regarding Ichiro, it was in fact, a hit-and-run that was on in that seventh inning. The only reason Jose Vidro didn’t swing is that the pitch from Bartolo Colon was so bad that it’s doubtful Vidro’s bat would have broken the sight line of catcher Jose Molina as he stood up to catch it.
Unfortunately for the M’s, the widely off-target pitch was about as close to a pitchout as you can get without actually calling for one. Ichiro was a dead duck at second base and told us afterwards he had a real uneasy feeling about the hit-and-run the moment it was called.
“It was a situation where we wanted to get runners on base because we were down by three,” Ichiro said through an interpreter. “But when we got the sign, I kind of had a bad feeling about it.”
Ichiro wouldn’t elaborate on why he felt so uneasy, saying only that: “In the game of baseball, feelings like that are very key. Because baseball is not a game of just what you see. There are a lot of things you can’t see going on in the game of baseball. So, that I was able to see something like that, that was going to happen, made me very happy.”
Not sure why Ichiro would be happy about predicting the failure of his team to succeed at a basic baseball strategy with its top baserunner and best contact hitter at the plate. I know he’s trying to say he’s pleased to still have some gut instincts. But it just doesn’t translate well or look very good to be saying it right now. In the end, that play came down to luck and the fact Bartolo Colon couldn’t make a pitch. Ichiro, by the way, did tell us he would never directly disobey a hit-and-run signal from the bench. Nor should he have in this situation, regardless of what he “felt”. If he’s that good at predictions, maybe he should have told Jarrod Washburn not to throw that inside pitch to Vladimir Guerrero in the first inning.
Nothing wrong with the pitch, or Washburn’s night from where I stood.
“I’m good at throwing inside and I threw inside,” Washburn said. “They just did a good job of getting their bats broken and putting it in a spot where they get to go on base.”
Washburn can’t set the lineup, or catch balls hit to left field. Guerrero hits homers off of everyone on every type of pitch.
Richie Sexson had another hitless night and I wonder how much longer he’ll stay in the clean-up spot. The Mariners get to do some interleague stuff on the weekend with San Diego, then head off for a makeup game in Cleveland and over to Tampa Bay after that. My guess is that Sexson gets until next week to show what he can do against the Devil Rays and their woeful arms — aside from a couple of guys — before any major move is made. As I said, the Mariners are waiting for him to catch fire. It was unlikely he was ever going to do it against an Angels team with arguably the best starting staff in the majors.
Just like the M’s wouldn’t let Felix Hernandez make his comeback in Detroit or New York, picking a nice, soft-hitting Angels club to break him back in, they weren’t expecting this series to be Sexson’s breakout. But it will have to come soon. My guess is, the team hopes it begins right about now, as folks like Colon and John Lackey jet back off to Los Angeles.
The Mariners? Back down to 18-18. Right down the middle again.



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