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

July 5, 2007 at 6:01 PM

Mariners vs A’s; Game 1

Both pitchers have settled down since the first inning and it’s now 3-2 for the A’s in the top of the seventh after Nick Swisher led off the sixth with a solo homer and Bobby Crosby hit a go-ahead blast to center. I was about to write that Miguel Batista, at only 65 pitches through five innings (42 through the last four) was entering a very important frame with some big sluggers due up. Batista has yielded a lot of deep fly balls tonight and the one by Swisher was a bit too far to land in an outfielder’s glove. Same with Crosby’s.
But for those of you who have complimented Batista, I’m tending to agree with you. What has impressed me most about him this year is the number of times he’s allowed two earned runs or less. I count 11 of the last 14 games. No joke. Those are some impressive numbers. But he’s down by a run.
A big thanks to Dave over at USS Mariner, who emailed to tell me thatr Kevin Cash is now hitting .180 for Class AAA Pawtucket in the Red Sox system. See what I mean? A good guy, but no hit.
What a game Jose Guillen is having. Forget about the bobbled ball in right. Shannon Stewart is quicker than he looked rounding third and likely would have scored. But Guillen has two singles and a double, has driven in a run, scored another and made a superb catch in right in that sixth to rob Dan Johnson of a double. This game isn’t over yet.
WALKS GALORE
Not exactly a pitcher’s duel to start this one off, though the Mariners do have a 1-0 lead. Both teams left the bases loaded in the first inning as Kenji Johjima hit into a double-play and Bobby Crosby stared at the third strike in a pathetic-looking at-bat. Maybe the umpire expanded his strike zone a little on that first pitch. The third one looked good to me.
Four walks so far already, two by each pitcher. Miguel Batista threw 23 pitches that inning, Chad Gaudin 20. The balls were hit harder off Batista than Gaudin and the Seattle starter will have to find his command quickly. Gaudin and Batista were teammates in Toronto in 2005, believe it or not. The Blue Jays actually acquired Gaudin from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for a catcher named Kevin Cash. Remember him? Didn’t think so. His claim to fame was being able to hit these tape measure home runs in batting practice. And Cash was just a little guy. Made folks drool thinking of the possibilities. And he was a Cape Cod League discovery. How could so many guys miss? Well, the trouble is, Cash never could take his batting practice prowess into game situations. Not sure what he’s doing now. I’ll look it up when I’m not too busy. And you all wonder why the D-Rays are terrible? Could have had Gaudin, Then again, the Jays could have had him too. Traded him to Oakland for a player-to-be-named. Some guy named Dustin Majewski. Why does Billy Beane always seem to come out ahead in these deals? Yeah, I know, he got stuck with Jason Kendall, but nobody’s perfect.
As I write this, Batista just breezed through a seven-pitch second inning. Still has a 1-0 lead. In much better shape now.
ICHIRO INCENTIVE?
Some of you were wondering whether Ichiro would stick around the Mariners now that John McLaren is the manager. McLaren was asked at today’s pre-0game media scrum whether he’d be inclined to make a pitch to Ichiro on behalf of the team.
“I’m not saying that I wouldn’t,” he said. “I’m hoping I don’t have to. I’m hoping that we can just get on some kind of hot streak. I know that he enjoys Seattle. We’ve talked about this. He likes the stadium, he likes the organization. I know he wants to win. We all want to win. That’s why we’re here.”
Ichiro and McLaren go back a long way. Yes, I do think the change in managers will have an impact on Ichiro’s final decision. I do think he’s leaning towards staying here. If the team keeps winning, all that other stuff may be a moot point. As for the money Ichiro demands, seeing him carry this lineup for nearly two months, I’d have to say he’s justifying a higher pricetag than he was in April.
It will be the regular Mariners lineup going tonight as Richie Sexson is back in at first base, Kenji Johjima is catching and Raul Ibanez is in left field. Johjima is the biggest surprise, having worked his way back remarkably fast after taking that pitch off the hand a couple of nights ago.
Hear what McLaren had to say about it in his pre-game media scrum.
McLaren wanted me to clarify something: it was, in fact, champagne his players doused him with after last night’s win, not beer. I guess he doesn’t want anyone thinking they’re a bunch of cheapskates. Though it’s very doubtful that was Dom Perginon he was showering under. Anyone ever had Andre’s Baby Duck, or is that just a Canadian thing? We used to celebrate our hockey championships with it when I was 13 or 14. Probably what was used on McLaren. Better to save the real stuff for October.
New first base coach Gary Thurman joined the team here today. I asked him to sum up his baserunning philosophy in a couple of words. He told me: “Aggressive and not foolish.”
Sounds a lot like what Mike Hargrove and company were preaching since spring training. Not surprising, since Thurman was the guy brought in to instruct the fine art of running the bases. He hasn’t been in a major league clubhouse since his final season in 1997, so there were some memories flowing through his head as he prepared for today’s pre-game workouts.
Listen to what longtime friend and associate Mike Goff, now the M’s bench coach, had to say about Thurman and being promoted to bench coach in midstream for a second straight year.
Some quick news: Chris Reitsma, as expected, will likely get activated tomorrow night. McLaren just wants one more day to make sure he plays catch without his arm falling off. Listen to what McLaren had to say about Reitsma in this audio clip.
Spoke to Jon Huber as well. He was clutching a plane ticket, heading out on a 7:30 p.m. flight to Portland. Will pitch there tomorrow and again on Sunday for Class AAA Tacoma. Then, after the break, he’ll learn whether he’ll rejoin the M’s or get optioned back to Tacoma.
Still waiting on lineup sheets here in the pressbox. I’ll post them and the umpires when they come.
OAKLAND (43-41)
LF Shannon Stewart
2B Mark Ellis
CF Nick Swisher
RF Jack Cust
1B Dan Johnson
SS Bobby Crosby
3B Marco Scutaro
C Jason Kendall
DH Kurt Suzuki (two of them in this game)
RHP Chad Gaudin
SEATTLE (46-35)
CF Ichiro (the other Suzuki)
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Jose Guillen
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
RHP Miguel Batista
UMPIRES
HP Greg Gibson
1B Ted Barrett
2B Tony Randazzo
3B Charlie Reliford (crew chief)

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