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

July 7, 2007 at 1:45 AM

Mariners win another big game

Sorry about the late post. Little I could do. We have to travel from Oakland back to San Francisco on the rapid train system here and because of all my obligations to the print edition, I had to catch the late train back to town before I could update the blog. I try to at least post some kind of update shortly after the game, but I had too much other work going on tonight and wanted to catch that train. Sorry. Thanks for bearing with me. You folks have had some great discussions on this trip.
People ask me all the time why I like this Mariners team and I tell them it’s because of nights like this one just past. It seems like every time Seattle looks like a team that’s about to get pushed in a corner it can’t crawl out of, it comes up big. This time, it’s knocking off Dan Haren and the Oakland A’s by a 7-1 score right at the McAfee Coliseum. The Mariners again stayed in a pitcher’s duel, just as they did against Toronto last weekend, before pulling away in the end.
Adrian Beltre came up huge, tying a career high with five hits. Beltre had gotten on a roll right before suffering that thumb injury last month. This night was his biggest since and he says he’s working his way back to top health.
“I’m seeing the ball and I’m swinging,” Beltre said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, like I did today and things turned out well for me.”
His counterpart in the field, A’s third baseman Marco Scutaro, tied the AL record for his position by committing four errors. One of them really hurt, in the seventh inning when the Mariners took the lead.
“It’s tough for any position player, especially for an infielder,” Beltre said of Scutaro’s errors, the most by any AL third baseman since Edgar Martinez did it for the Mariners 17 years ago. “You have a game like that, you want to dig a hole and get in. It’s horrible.”
Hear that clip from Beltre and others in this post-game audio.
Mariners manager John McLaren said of Beltre’s night: “It’s great to see, for him, to feel good about himself. He works hard, he’s a good guy and I think he carries too much of a load on himself.”
Hear some McLaren post-game media conference audio here.
Jose Vidro came through in a big way for the team, lining the tiebreaking double off Haren in that seventh right after Scutaro’s second error. It was only the 10th double and 13th extra-base hit of the year for Vidro, who needs to step things up quickly in the second half. Will the one double silence Vidro’s critics? No. If he keeps hitting the ball on a line like that to the gaps, which the M’s expected when they signed him, it will. But I think the critics have been justified. We are already past the halfway point of the season. Vidro has to do more of what we saw tonight.
“I’m not going to change my approach,” Vidro said. “I’m going to be the same hitter today that I was last year or the year before. It’s just the way that I am. In the past I had a lot more doubles last year than this year, but I know they’re going to come. The most important thing is to get them when they count. I was glad that I was able to get a hit today and give us that ‘W’.”
Hear the full version of Vidro’s interview right here.
Jeff Weaver had another strong outing, despite only lasting five innings. If you’re only going to go five on the road, allowing just one run is the right way to do it. Weaver had some issues with the win inside the stadium, which was rather tricky tonight — especially on his off-speed pitches. His manager, John McClaren, said that Weaver wasn’t feeling right towards the end. He suggested some arm stiffness might have been involved, but Weaver kept insisting he was fine. He did that with the media afterwards, too.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t feel right,” Weaver said. “It was just a situation where it was a battle. You’ve got Haren on the other side, a guy who can easily shut down a lineup. I just couldn’t get into a situation where I wanted to give in to those guys. Especially the middle of the lineup. The you allow the game to get out of reach. So, I was just working hard to get outs. A lot of 3-2 counts, a lot of 2-0 counts. I had to work to make pitches to get out of those situations.”
Hear Weaver’s extended comments on this audio clip.
Here’s a second clip with Weaver, in which, a little later on, he discusses how the wind was affecting his pitches.
So, the Mariners just knocked off the hottest pitcher in baseball. Have now given him two of his three losses. Also beat Roy Halladay last weekend. This is the kind of stuff that gets folks excited about a team. The A’s are trying to stay in this thing, even more so than the M’s because they are so far back. Oakland needs to gain some ground here. Just because the A’s have staged incredible second-half rallies before doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen.
Yes, the Angels lost a very poorly-pitched game in New York. They are truly scuffling. The Indians and Tigers are now tied for the wild-card. What does it all mean? That the Mariners have to give serious thought to how they’re going to upgrade this team. We now know that Seattle will head to mid-July no worse than 4 1/2 games out of a playoff spot and likely closer than that. That makes them a “buyer” as the July 31 deadline nears. Yes, all of these games this week were very meaningful. This victory tonight was huge.
But the question marks remain. Chris Reitsma looked good in his first outing back. Is he the eighth inning answer? Or do the M’s have to go shopping? Can the starting rotation keep this up? Will Horacio Ramirez bump Ryan Feierabend from the rotation and come back stronger, just as Jeff Weaver has? Do the Mariners have to call up Adam Jones? Or is Jose Vidro about to go on a doubles-tear as the M’s hoped he would back in the spring?
These questions and others will have to be answered.
For those of you who want the team to get stronger without trading a big-name prospect, I will say this. You have to give big to get big. And no, it won’t always work out. Somebody asked me what Brad Lidge would cost? Any one of the prospects we’ve talked about ad nauseum on this blog. Plus another prospect, likely. Lidge is a big name. Very big. He won’t be given away.
Those who would like to keep every prospect, I would add that this is fine as well. But where do they play? Which veterans move on? You likely can’t fit all of Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien, Jeff Clement, Rob Johnson and company all on the same roster. You do that, it will be about 2011 before this team contends. You need to add some components, jettison others for more established players. That’s how I see it. You don’t have to agree. But I just can’t see a nine-man lineup with four rookie position players, with young guys like Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt as the “veteran presence” winning any time soon. There’s a development process. That’s why some prospects are developed just to be traded.
I still would like to see the Mariners call up one of the big Class AAA bats and look to add pitching, either bullpen, rotation, or both. Other contenders will be looking to get better this month. The M’s look to have survived the worst of their first-half calamities and are hanging tough.

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