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June 27, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Mariners sweep! Hear audio clips

That was quite a day at the ballpark, much different from the first two games of this series won by the Mariners. This one had quality pitching, on both sides, and the Mariners outlasted the Boston bullpen for a 2-1 victory in 11 innings. Did it by taking out former M’s pitcher Joel Pineiro, who had rolled his ankle during pre-game workouts yesterday and was about the last guy the Red Sox wanted to use with the game on the line.
But that’s their problem. The M’s took care of business here and went a long way towards rectifying some of the damage done on their most recent road trip.
“Everybody that we asked to do anything today contributed to this win,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said in his post-game press conference. “Our pitching, we were down to the nubs.”
Listen to Hargrove in this clip.
Jose Lopez came through with the game-winning double, off the wall and past the outstretched the glove of left fielder Manny Ramirez. Lopez was greeted by his teammates, who pounded on his helmet in celebration. Listen to Lopez describe it here.
“I’ve got a headache right now,” Lopez said. “My teammates killed me.”
Was this sweep forseeable? No. That’s what makes it so special. Seattle hadn’t exactly manhandled winning teams this season. The three Seattle starters failed to go six innings in each of the three games. Those of you who “predicted” this sweep, raise your hands, then show me the paper you wrote your picks down on and sealed in a vault. Just kidding. But you’re right, stuff like this happens in baseball. There will be rare times when the Angels do get swept and the M’s sweep at the same time. And when that rarity happens, the M’s will make up some ground very quickly. They are five games behind, but by doing the highly unexpected here, the Mariners have positioned themselves on the division radar again. I said on the radar. They are still on the fringes of the AL West race and have quite a bit of ground to make up before any ticker tape parades are held. But they did just go the hard route in reversing some of the ills that six-game losing streak wrought upon them.
Jamie Burke agrees in this audio clip that his team has no business worrying about the Angels or the division standings.
“I don’t even worry about those guys,” he said. “We have to win here before we do anything.”
Burke begins the clip by talking about Daisuke Matsuzaka, who owned Seattle hitters today. “Obviously he’s got an electric fastball and great slider,” Burke starts out saying.
Ryan Feierabend tossed five scoreless innings and got that bases-loaded groundout on David Ortiz on his 99th and final pitch. Feierabend saw his chance for a win vanish in the seventh, but says in this clip that the outing was a confidence-booster after that 16-1 loss to the Reds last Friday.
Lose three straight to the Toronto Blue Jays, of course, and this sweep gets negated pretty fast. But that’s what this two-week stretch is about. Hanging in there. Proving (not just saying it, doing it) that Seattle can hang in there with the better teams and win big clusters of games to stay in playoff races. They started proving it on the last road trip, then erased it all in six days.
Now, they are proving it again. As one of you mentioned, the M’s can go for that elusive six-game win streak starting Friday. As of right now, the M’s are wild-card contenders, sitting only two behind Cleveland once the Tribe finishes getting rocked by Oakland today. If the M’s are still contending once this two-week, pre-All-Star Game stretch, is done, then maybe it will be time to take a different look at this team. Not just because a handful of fans say they “believed” in the team all along. Believing in something that has yet to produce any tangible proof it can live up to that belief is foolish from a logic perspective. Of course, it’s what fandom is all about and I understand it.
In my business, though, it requires something more. It requires proof. If the M’s are still in the wild-card hunt, still only a few games out by a week from this Sunday, this team will have certainly proved something to me. I will say that Seattle has already proved that its bullpen can make up for some poor outings by starters. It’s about as automatic as you can get after the seventh inning these days. I’ll even say that this is looking like a playoff bullpen. Reminds me a lot of the White Sox from two years ago. Or the Angels in 2002.
But the M’s have to make the playoffs first.
What did this sweep do? Let’s sum it up. Had the Angels swept the Royals, as many expected, and the M’s dropped two or even three games here, we’d be writing the club’s obituary today. But the unexpected happened. We were surprised. Seattle needs to keep pulling off a few more surprises as it attempts the leap up to that next level from a merely “good” team to a legitimate playoff contender. It’s been fun to watch so far. Let’s see if they can keep it up against the Blue Jays this weekend. I’ve got to say, though, a season-high nine games over .500 is a pretty good base to build off of.

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