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

June 29, 2007 at 5:30 PM

Mariners vs. Blue Jays, Game 1

Big developments in the eighth as Mike Hargrove goes to J.J. Putz for another multi-inning save. Putz needed five outs as the Blue Jays had loaded the bases with one out and Seattle ahead 5-2. The move looked good to start as Putz got Howie Clark to pop out for the second out. When you have Clark batting in the eighth, you know the bench is weak. But then John McDonald hit an infield single off Yuni Betancourt’s glove to make it a 5-3 game. That forced Putz to face slugger Alex Rios with the bases still juiced. Not at all what you want, but Putz fanned him with a high fastball. On to the ninth.
Brandon Morrow again had control issues early in the inning, walking a pair. Control stuff has plagued Morrow all season.
To “Ronny” — I said McGowan was a good pitcher because he’d compiled four “quality starts” of seven innings or more in his last six outings. He’s actually allowed three earned runs or less in six of his last seven outings. So, those are all traditional “quality starts” as well. The ERA doesn’t tell the full story.
We’re through 5 1/2 innings here and the Mariners keep on rolling, up 5-2 on the Toronto Blue Jays and really making it look easy. I have no idea what’s up with these first innings, as one of you asked me. Maybe the M’s should just skip it and play the second through the 10th. A joke. Anyway, Jarrod Washburn has looked sharp so far, throwing only 68 pitches through his first five innings. Got up to 86 after the sixth. Contrast that with the 100 pitches thrown by Dustin McGowan in his first five and you’ll know why Seattle is ahead by four. The M’s drew yet another bases loaded walk — make that five in the last four games, this one by Richie Sexson. What’s going on? Is the Earth’s axis alligned properly?
To “Ronny” and “Vogel” and the rest of you, I know you don’t expect the M’s to go 84-0 the rest of the way. It’s OK for you to be fans. I also wrote this morning that the Mariners stand a good chance of winning this series if they take out McGowan tonight. Which they have done. He was the least consistent of the three very good starters Seattle faces this weekend. Despite his one-hitter the last time out. And yes, if the M’s lose this game — and get beat by Roy Halladay tomorrow, a very good possiblity as he’s 9-2 — then there was a good chance of getting swept. No one wrote “they will get swept” but yes, the possibility existed because it’s been a while since the M’s have faced three consecutive pitchers who have all been on a decent roll. Maybe not since the Angels came here back in mid-May and took two of three.
So feel free to disagree. But if you’re going to challenge me and call me ridiculous, explain that part please. How is it ridiculous when we’re talking about a team that got swept by the Houston Astros two weeks ago. That lost six in a row to the Cubs, Astros and Pirates over one stretch? Yes, the M’s are on quite a roll. And do you know what? It will be a very big deal if they take two of three from this Toronto club. Not because I used to cover them. I spent the last five years telling folks in Toronto that this Blue Jays team, under its current management, would never amount to anything more than a .500 club with a handful of wins or losses in either direction. I’m not sitting up here rooting for them to prove me wrong, that much I can tell you. I truthfully don’t care what they do as I’m no longer paid to cover them.
I like some of their players and root for them to do individually well. But that’s it. Halladay is a great pitcher and I’m giving him his due. If he gets lit-up by the M’s tomorrow, I’ll give the Mariners their props. That’s how it works. OK “Mule” dude? LOL, what kind of screename is that?
Truth is, the Blue Jays look no different from the team I covered from 1998-2006. Not quite ready for prime time. But those three pitchers have been on a roll. The M’s just knocked one of them out after only five innings. That’s something to be happy about if you’re an M’s fan. Enjoy it, please. Especially since the Angels won again. “Amy” must have jinxed the O’s. Just like I jinxed Escobar.
Sean Green now on the mound. If the M’s get past this inning, they should win the game pretty easily. Toronto showed little offensively until that last inning, scoring another off Washburn. Doubt they’d do much against George Sherrill and J.J. Putz if it came to that.
A chilly night here at Safeco Field as I renew acquaintances in the visitors clubhouse, where the Toronto Blue Jays have just left to go take batting practice.
Had a brief chat with Frank Thomas, newest member of baseball’s 500-homer club. Listen here
for the audio clip. A little muffled at the beginning, but it goes away in a few seconds.
“It’s good to be here, but I’m not done,” he told me.
Ben Broussard gets the start in left tonight as Raul Ibanez is still out with that sore hamstring. Another day or two until Ibanez starts. For now, he’s available to pinch-hit. Broussard has gotten a lot of regular playing time in Ibanez’s absence and tells me here in this clip
what that’s been like.
“It takes a lot of time to really get rhythm up there,” he tells me. “Maybe three, or four, or five days in a row.”
Broussard has also spent time learning to master left field after his early struggles at the position. “Just every day in BP, I try to get fly balls at both sides,” he tells me here.
Been reading a lot of your comments in the previous thread.
You’re right, “Ronny” and “Kyle” and “Vogel” — let’s just concede every game to the Mariners from here on in. Forget even bringing up the fact that they could face pitching superior to what they saw the last series — when the Red Sox trotted out a pair of guys who walked in four Mariners with the bases loaded in two games. Yes, they were allowing the M’s to walk! OK, I’ll get serious with you. But don’t expect me to just write down that Seattle should go 84-0 the rest of the way and then, if they lose a few, act surprised and pretend I didn’t see any potential problems ahead. This Blue Jays team has some pretty hot pitchers taking the mound and this series will not be the cakewalk saome of you seem to expect. Doesn’t make me partial to Toronto. In fact, it shows you that — if the Mariners do manage to win this series — they maybe deserve a little more credit than some of you are willing to give them. So there. I’m actually paying the M’s a compliment.
But anyway, we’ll see how it pans out. To answer “scrapiron” yes, it is an old baseball addage that you are in the wild-card race if single-digits behind at the break. And like so many baseball addages, it’s an incorrect one. Go back and see how many teams in the wild-card era have made up a nine-game gap like that at the break and made the playoffs.
If there’s less than 10 teams, then you’ve got a problem because that would mean less than 10 percent have overcome that gap. And nine games is “single digits” by any definition. Find me teams that have overcome a six-game gap at the break to make the playoffs. Same rules apply. If you think a 10 percent chance, or even a 15 percent chance, is a good one, well, then we’re never going to agree on this and we’ll just leave the discussion at that. To say that it’s too early to track a “race” is technically true. The M’s are not in a playoff race and won’t be until they prove — there’s that word again — that they can do this in late August and early September when it counts.
What I’m tracking now is the team’s “race” or “effort” to avoid dumping a bunch of players at the trade deadline. The next nine days are not about winning a playoff chase. They are about keeping the “buyer” label and not the “seller” label. By the way, the Angels are winning with you-know-who on the mound (or not — looks like I put the old Baker jinx on Kelvim Escobar. Thank me later.). So, those of you who still consider the M’s in the division race, this game here tonight just took on greater meaning.
Enjoy this series. It could be just as tough as the Boston one just passed.
Here’s some news:
Horacio Ramirez goes out on a rehab assignment with Tacoma tomorrow. He’ll make three starts and then be re-evaluated in mid-July to see where he fits in the rotation. In other words, Ryan Feierabend has that much time to establish himself as a rotation fixture.
Chris Reitsma goes out to Tacoma on Sunday, then will appear in another one-inning stint and after that could be recalled and join the team in Oakland.
The lineups:
RF Alex Rios
CF Vernon Wells
3B Troy Glaus
DH Frank Thomas
2B Aaron Hill
C Gregg Zaun
1B Curtis Thigpen
LF Adam Lind
SS John McDonald
RHP Dustin McGowan
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
1B Richie Sexson
LF Ben Broussard
C Kenji Johjima
3B Adrian Beltre
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LHP Jarrod Washburn
HP Randy Marsh
1B Bob Davidson
2B Sam Holbrook
3B Hunter Wendelstedt



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