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July 17, 2007 at 9:51 PM

Mariners lose 8-3; hear audio

No, it wasn’t a great night for the Mariners, losing 8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles in a game they led 2-0 with two out in the sixth. Not trying to make the night any worse for some of you, but, well, the thing is that Felix Hernandez was actually trying to walk Jay Gibbons when he threw that 2-0 slider that got belted into the cheap seats in right field for a three-run homer.
Yes, you heard me right. Wanted him to chase something or else was going to put him on and face right handed hitting Chris Gomez. No dice there. Gibbons doesn’t hit many long balls any more, but he’s had multiple seasons of 20 or more and can still go deep when offered the chance.
“I wasn’t thinking about whether he was struggling or not,” Hernandez said. “Anybody can hit. Like I said, I was trying to walk him. It just didn’t happen.”
Hernandez threw a lot of breaking balls in this game. The Orioles were hacking away early at his first-pitch offerings, so he decided to mix in more breaking balls to keep them off-balance. It worked and it didn’t. Hernandez allowed plenty of base runners on eight hits and three walks. He was fortunate to still be ahead 2-0 by that sixth and wound up taking his first loss since June 15.
Listen to how he desbribed it. Not the greatest audio. Hernandez has a heavy accent and you have to listen carefully. The John McLaren stuff below is easier to understand. As I said, we’re trying to improve the audio but had troubles tonight. Hopefully, by tomorrow.
This wasn’t a total disaster for Hernandez. Far from it. But manager McLaren and the coaching staff are going to look over footage of his pitch selection and pitch location in this game and see whether they can tweak Hernandez’s appraoch a little more. Don’t forget, Hernandez started mixing in more breaking stuff early after being told to by piching coach Rafael Chaves (reinforced by Hernandez being shown a charting of his pitches done by the U.S.S. Mariner fan website).
Hernandez may be overdoing things just a little.
“I think the difference for Felix between the first part of the season and now is the location of his fastball,” McLaren said. “He dominated the first part with the location of his fastball and could throw his breaking ball when he was behind in the count.
“We’re going to study a couple of things as far as how many pitches he’s throwing and how many breaking balls he’s throwing. We’re going to check him out. I thought he threw a lot of breaking balls tonight. I don’t expect him to throw every pitch (as a) fastball. But the fastball sets up the other stuff.”
Hear what McLaren said in this audio clip.
McLaren knows that vEric O’Flaherty and the bullpen didn’t get the job done tonight. He pulled Hernandez at only 99 pitches because the latter was extremely upset at himself in the dugout for giving up the Gibbons homer. Kept O’Flaherty out there so long because he didn’t want to be using any late-inning specialists with his team behind. Plan didn’t work out.
Hear what McLaren said about the rest of the game.
The Indians beat the White Sox, so the Mariners are back to a pair of games behind the Tribe in the wild-card standings. But the Twins lost as well, so you don’t have to worry about a creeping Minnesota team for another 24 hours or so. The Yankees beat the Blue Jays, but we’ve all agreed not to worry about them until they actually do something worth worrying about. Right?
These nights haven’t happened often for the M’s. By that, I mean nights where they turn victory into defeat. There will be more of these, guaranteed. Happens to all teams, just not to this one for quite some time.
To the reader who wrote that I somehow jinxed the team by going on Baltimore television during that seventh inning, hey, Hernandez had already given up the Gibbons home run. I didn’t hear what Palmer said, but any day a Hall of Famer wants to compliment my work, he can go right ahead. George Brett once said something very nice about a story of mine on the air back in 2003. Other than that, most Hall of Famers keep ripping me. Only kidding, though Jim Fregosi (an Angels Hall of Famer) didn’t think I knew anything about baseball at all and made a point of telling me that to my face until I arrived in Seattle. Now, he just lets me know it with a raise of an eyebrow when I pawn some theory off on him.
That’s the great thing about covering this game. There are so many people around you who know the game better than you do that it always keeps you honest.
To “Shimon” and others who mentioned the audio clips, I hear you. I’ve tried to keep the commentary up and not just make this blog all about bells and whistles. I’ve avoided doing video because I don’t want this to become a television broadcast. But plenty of readers have written in to say they love the audio clips, our numbers are higher than ever and I think we can find a way to appease both groups. I’m trying to, anyway. I like including the clips because they give you raw audio, not some cropped sound bite.
That way, you can hear everything that was said in its full context.
As for the commentary on tonight’s game. Everything that could go wrong for Hernandez and Eric O’Flaherty in the sixth and seventh innings pretty much did. The offense didn’t do enough to win this game. Another rookie pitcher stymied the M’s and by the time they got a good enough look at him, he was through six and had a six-run lead. Seattle has to win the series tomorrow night and hope for better things on the road.
So far, this seven-game homestand is at 3-3. What a difference that one “W” will make as far as the outlook going forward.



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