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July 18, 2007 at 5:42 PM

Mariners vs. Orioles, Game 3

Spoke too soon about Jarrod Washburn and that big lead? He’s been hit solidly a couple of times here in the seventh inning. This isn’t quite what happened back in June, when Washburn gave up a pile of runs in the fifth inning and blew a big lead, but it’s now a 5-4 game. There’s only one out, the tying run is on first and the top of the order is due up. No messing around here. George Sherrill has come on, with a switch-hitter and two lefties due up. I would have taken Washburn out with No. 9 hitting Chris Gomez — who singled in a run — due up. He was only at 100 pitches, but you knew he wasn’t going to face leadoff man Brian Roberts. Anyway, that’s in the past. This game has suddenly come to life.
WASHBURN CRUISING, CABRERA BRUISING
Mariners leading 5-2 here in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jarrod Washburn has been in control pretty much all night, getting the Orioles to mishit into harmless ground outs for the most part. On the occasions when they have hit some balls hard and in the air, Ichiro has been there to save the day — chasing down at least two drives that could have gone for extra bases in other parks with other fielders.
Daniel Cabrera has been out of control for a good part of this game. His own worst enemy so to speak. Three walks in the first two innings forced him to throw an abundance of pitches and turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit. And then, after he appeared en rout to escaping a serious jam in the third inning, getting a Richie Sexson groundout that left a runner at third with two down, he wild-pitched the run home.
Cabrera is now out of the game after five. A reader emailed to ask me an interesting question about whether the Orioles might be “showcasing” Cabrera for a possible trade with Seattle. The M’s certainly have the bats that Baltimore would want. And Cabrera is the only starting pitcher the Orioles would consider giving up.
But the M’s know all about Cabrera as does the rest of the AL. It’s what we saw tonight. Great stuff and absolutely no idea how to harness it. Not sure he’d be an upgrade over what Seattle already has. Not for the cost. That’s why I seriously doubt he was being showcased here.
Oh and besides, a little birdie in the visitors’ clubhouse before the game told me he watched Erik Bedard when somebody called out his name. Apparently, Bedard had to turn his head very slowly to see who it was. Sounds like a simple stiff neck to me. That’s why Cabrera was pitching instead of him.
SHOOTING DOWN RUMORS
Thanks to “John” for that little note down below. But I wouldn’t even classify that as a good rumor. It’s a fantasy baseball guy speculating. Very much doubt Griffey will be in Seattle before next year or beyond.
As for Mark Teixeira, that’s another speculative-sounding “rumor” floated by a Dallas newspaper. Where would Tex play? At first base? What happens to Richie Sexson? Is there a trade out there? Doubt it. The team isn’t going to swallow all those remaining millions whole by releasing him.
By the way, Dontrelle Willis got lit-up again tonight. Three innings, six runs, 11 hits in a 6-0 loss. Not sure there’s any upside left in that tank. Starting to wonder if the M’s will just stand pat and take their chances with what they’ve got. Sure feels and looks that way.
BEDARD, IBANEZ OUT
As many of you have already noted, the Orioles have made a pitching change for tonight, replacing EriK Bedard with Daniel Cabrera for what has been cited as “neck stiffness”. That could be good news, except that Cabrera already beat the Mariners and Jarrod Washburn back in June — allowing four runs over eight innings after a sluggish start. So, we’ll see.
The Indians have already lost and the Angels are trailing, 7-1 in the sixth at Tampa Bay.
Some of you have mentioned this story on Ichiro’s recent contract extension. This helps explain the disparity of where the early $100 million (total value) figures were coming from and the $90 million stated value of the contract. My initial reaction is the M’s deserve credit for creatively financing this deal, as it opens up budget room to add more players in the short term. As has been mentioned on radio today and to me by a team official I spoke with, the ballclub considers this a substantial savings because it can put away money now, let it gather interest, and pay Ichiro what he’s owed later. It beats shovelling all the money at him up front. Almost like a car lease, except you can’t just dump Ichiro at the end without paying the residual.
I don’t see any problem with this contract. The only thing that could go wrong is if the financial market for baseball and players changes dramatically over the next 10 years or so. Let’s say folks stop going to Safeco Field and the TV market dries up. In the end, you always run a risk paying later for what you have now. I saw the Blue Jays paying plenty of players deferred money after the 1990s were over and the bottom had fallen out on the SkyDome and the money it was raking in when those contracts were initially signed.
That said, there doesn’t appear to be anything that would put the team in any serious trouble having to make these future payments to Ichiro. I’d say it’s pretty safe as a venture and both sides win out. So do the fans, since the team now had more money to play with in the near term.
Some quick news for you from Safeco Field. Upon further review, manager John McLaren has decided that Felix Hernandez really didn’t throw all that many more breaking pitches than usual last night. McLaren is going to leave Hernandez alone on that topic for now.
Hear what McLaren had to say in some new and improved audio. Hope you like the sound quality. We’ve spent enough time trying to boost it. You too, “Shimon”, thanks for continuing to read and contribute. McLaren also trotted out the reminder that Hernandez is still only 21. . Pitching coach Rafael Chaves has used that reminder before, but not McLaren. Maybe he needed to remind himself. Anyway, good to see the coaching staff staying on top of things.
Raul Ibanez takes a seat tonight, despite the fact the O’s have switched from southpaw Bedard to right handed Cabrera. Ibanez, as many of you have noted, has struggled of late — hitting 11-for-56 (.196) in July. Ibanez was told last night that he’d get today and tomorrow’s off-day as a rest and McLaren didn’t want to mess with that.
Ibanez knows he hasn’t been himself at the plate. He’s been looking at video footage and working in the cage, trying to figure out what’s missing.
“I got good advice a long time ago,” he said. “You’re never as close as you think, or as far as you think. So, with that being said, I don’t feel that close right now. But it’s not as far as you think, either.”
Sounds like he’s got the locker next to Ichiro’s doesn’t it? Hear more of what Ibanez had to say.
Ben Broussard starts in left field tonight. It was going to be Jason Ellison until the Orioles switched pitchers. Tough break for Ellison. I spoke briefly to Eric O’Flaherty about his tough outing last night. Very rare for him, considering he’d been 5-0 with an 0.66 ERA since June 4. He blamed his troubles on a stubborn insistence on continuing to use a two-seam fastball that wasn’t working for him.
Here are the lineups:
BALTIMORE (42-51)
2B Brian Roberts
CF Corey Patterson
RF Nick Markakis
1B Kevin Millar
C Ramon Hernandez
3B Aubrey Huff
LF Jay Payton
DH Jon Knott
SS Chris Gomez
RHP Daniel Cabrera
SEATTLE (52-39)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Ben Broussard
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LHP Jarrod Washburn
UMPIRES
HP Andy Fletcher
1B Mike Reilly (crew chief)
2B Jeff Kellogg
3B Eric Cooper

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