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July 31, 2007 at 9:33 PM

Mariners demolished 8-0; hear audio

Oh my, not a good night. The Mariners lose 8-0 to the Los Angeles Angels and the post-game clubhouse felt like they had been beaten in the seventh game of a World Series. It was a roughed up bunch that was in there tonight, those who bothered to make an appearance before the cameras and reporters left.
Let’s be clear on this. There is nothing that happened tonight that can’t be fixed by a series victory over Jered Weaver and the Angels tomorrow. But let’s also be clear. A five-game deficit will be formidable with two months to go. Remember, the M’s still haven’t caught the Angels since falling behind them in the standings on April 18. Both these teams have had peaks and valleys but the gap between them has remained fairly consistent at three to five games.
It doesn’t matter that the M’s went on a tear and got to within one game a little under two weeks ago. They didn’t catch up. Now, they will fall either five back or move up to three back. Yes, there are more head-to-head matchups between the teams but those are not limitless. And the Angels will be tough to beat. They just saw Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey give this Los Angeles franchise back-to-back complete games for the first time in 14 years. That pitching is tough and chances are, it will not wilt down the stretch.
We are now into the part of the season where the pace begins to pick up. Playing .500 ball is usually not going to cut it. Yes, the M’s have won four of their last five. But they are also 9-11 since the All-Star Break. Keeping this division gap at three games instead of five is paramount. This will be Felix Hernandez’s biggest test as a major leaguer. To “JonJ” down below, this is not hyperbole. It is common sense. For some reason, a few of you have been conditioned to think that the M’s narrowing an eight-game gap down to just one in less than a month — as they did in June and July — was a usual happening. It was not. It was quite unusual and to expect it to happen twice in a span of a few months when chasing a good team is a little too optimistic.
Better to win this game tomorrow night.
“Tomorrow we’re looking to win the series, that’s what its all about,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “We feel good about having Felix out there. Win the game tomorrow and we’ll have done what we want to accomplish, which is to win every series.”
Hear McLaren’s entire post-game audio right here.
No, this was not the performance the team wanted out of Jeff Weaver on the same day it balked at adding any pitching help. McLaren went out to the mound in the second inning when Weaver’s emotions, pitching in front of his parents and a younger brother in the opposing dugout, seemed to be getting the better of him.
Weaver said his emotions were in-check and he put no added pressure on himself, other than to make a perfect pitch once the bases began filling up in the second inning. Being “too fine” with his offerings only componded his troubles that frame.
“I fell behind a lot of guys in that (second) inning and eventually I had to come in to them,” said Weaver, who allowed the two homers, two doubles and three walks in the inning. “And they didn’t miss.”
Hear all of what Weaver said in this clip.
We asked Jose Guillen about that pitch Angels starter John Lackey sent whizzing by his head in the eighth inning. Guillen and Lackey do not like each other, dating back to when both played for the Angels. Some real bad blood.
Hear what Guillen had to say about it.
“I just hope for the best he was not trying,” Guillen said.
“If I find out he was trying,” he added, “that’s a big problem. I’m not afraid of any pitcher. I don’t care if he throws 100 (mph) or whatever.”
No, the M’s were not a happy bunch after this game. Many of you are writing in, asking to reconcile my previous hints that Bill Bavasi would call up Adam Jones within days versus suggestions by McLaren that he’s sticking with his veterans. Well, let me just say that McLaren doesn’t make the roster moves on this team, his GM does. I’m sure he’ll have plenty of input. But until Jones is called up, McLaren will keep sticking with what he’s got. Not much of a mystery there.
Will this team wait forever? I doubt it. And Bavasi saying repeatedly that Jones is now “in play” (whatever that means) seems to indicate he’s on the verge of a call-up. The continued slumps by veterans Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez won’t lessen the need to add offensive power.
I spoke to Ibanez after the game and he told me he hoped his single in the ninth inning is the start of something to build off of.
“I’d like to be able to create some momentum,” he said. “Start putting some consistent at-bats together.”
Ibanez also feels his 61 RBI, second most on the team, will continue to buy him the time he needs. We’ll see. So far, the team keeps trotting him out to left field, hoping he’ll catch fire the way Jose Vidro did in July. Do I think Jones will be up here on Friday? Yes, I do. But I’ve been wrong before. Judging by how little this team did to bolster itself at the trade deadline, though, I cannot comprehend why it wouldn’t at least make the internal moves begging to be made at least in the short term.
No one is campaigning for Jones to be given at-bats he hasn’t earned. But the same can be said for quite a few players on this team right now. As I’ve mentioned, the game tomorrow night will be huge. The outlook can be very different just 24 hours from now. In the M’s case, they’d better hope so, or it could be a long August and September.



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