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June 5, 2007 at 11:36 PM

Ichiro feels the wins

Just got done talking to Ichiro, whose double was the difference in a 5-4 comeback win by the Mariners over the Baltimore Orioles. In the past, when we’ve spoken, he’s been reluctant to say he feels anything different about this year’s team. Not so tonight. Now, let’s be clear. He didn’t exactly leap from his locker stool and rush out to reserve World Series tickets. But even he had to admit, this type of comeback, two nights in a row, wasn’t something seen around these parts the past few years.
“There is some kind of atmosphere that this team has,” Ichiro said through an interpreter. “I’m not exactly able to put a finger on it. But we definitely have something going on.”
He wasn’tr as confident about his team’s chances for a comeback as he had been on Monday. The M’s hit the ball hard all night in the opener. Not so much in this game.
“Today was a situation where our opponent gave us a chance to win,” Ichiro said. “So, when something like that happens, with the team that we have this year, I felt like, ‘We can capture this.’ ”
Another pat on the back for his team. What’s going on? Any more of this and optimistic fans will start talking about Ichiro in 2008, and 2009, 2010 and beyond. Anyway, let’s not get carried away. There was plenty of optimism throughout the clubhouse.
To loyal reader “Anna” the very minimal number for a win streak was six games, I believe. But true contenders often do that multiple times. The Mariners will take that just once at this point. They’ve got four, so two to go. With Jarrod Washburn on the hill tomorrow afternoon, another of those very important sweeps looks possible.
No, the M’s are not gaining any ground on the Angels. It really is all about the pitching, folks. But Seattle does have tremendous pitching from its late-inning relievers. Sometimes, when it’s this good, it can make up for starters not quite at the elite level. Seattle is 28-0 when leading after seven innings. If this keeps up, the M’s could hang with the big boys for quite some time. Keeping this bullpen healthy, in my view, has to be this team’s No. 1 priority. It’s the only way it can make a difference and outlast anybody in a playoff race.
Right now, they are one game behind the Tigers. Yes, it’s too early for wild-card updates, but fans in Seattle haven’t had this much fun in a while, so why not?
No idea why Yuniesky Betancourt keeps throwing balls away. I can tell you, he was quite relieved to again be an offensive contributor after that throwing gaffe gave Baltimore what seemed like an insurmountable 4-1 lead in the sixth.
“It was definitely a relief,” Betancourt said through an interpreter. “Especially since the team was only down by a run at the end. It definitely made me feel better.”
This win will make the team feel better too. Better than being 6 1/2 or 7 1/2 games behind an Angels squad that just keeps on winning. Right now, winning is all the Mariners can afford to do.

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