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

August 5, 2007 at 4:38 PM

M’s put up a stinker; hear audio

UPDATE: Monday (9:40 a.m.) I will be posting another blog item later on, but I have off-day stories to write for the newspaper first. Wanted to respond to all of your comments on the Ichiro thing. Upon further review, especially after reading what “Ryan” wrote about Youkilis tagging up, I think I jumped the gun in linking what Ichiro did with the Angels the other night to what happened yesterday. It was indeed ruled defensive indifference (though I initially thought he’d been credited with a steal. Either I was hearing things when the pressbox announcement was made, or it was changed later. Given how distracted I can get writing in the ninth, trying to post the “game over” blog, it’s entirely possible I imagined the “steal” ruling). There is a difference. If Ichiro is risking the final out of the game — or any out — in a situation where baserunners are more key than where they are positioned, then it’s a problem. In a 9-1 game, you obviously want baserunners and risking an out is foolish.
So, I’ll take being wrong on this one. As for the me being “anti-Ichiro” comments, that’s just foolish and I’m done responding to them. Normally, I’d take the time to explain a bunch of stuff, but on this issue, let’s just say there is a certain segment of Seattle fan that believes Ichiro can do no wrong. It’s actually pretty funny when you compare it to what marquee players go through in other cities (think Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Vernon Wells). I’ve continuously written about the good things Ichiro does, but he is not a perfect player. Believe it or not, he did just go 1-for-14 with only a chopped infield hit in a huge series. If we can criticize Raul Ibanez, Jose Guillen, Felix Hernandez and other Mariners who have done more good than bad the past year or two, then we can question Ichiro from time to time. Especially when he steals a base and gets a ball thrown at his batter’s head as he did against the Angels. As for yesterday, as I’ve mentioned, I no longer believe it to be the same thing. That doesn’t make Ichiro immune from comments on what he does, in the past or in the future. Ichiro gets plenty of praise from me and other writers for the positive things he does. And we don’t go out of our way to point out his negatives any more than we do with Adam Jones, Jose Vidro, Ibanez or anyone else who does something questionable in the field, on the basepaths or at the plate. Though as the franchise player, he should be held to a higher standard than Jones.
We won’t always be right and when we’re wrong, hopefully we admit it. But that doesn’t halt the process of questioning it. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of Ichiro fan sites you can go read to get your fix.
On to the post…
So, which bad news do you want first? The fact the Mariners got pounded 9-2 by Boston, thanks to plenty of defensive and offensive miscues? Or that the New York Yankees have finally caught up to Seattle in the wild-card race? Not sure which rates as worse news. The M’s fell back to 3 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the wild-card hunt. At this point, the fact they are a half-game back of the Detroit Tigers in the wild-card standings would seem like the better bet. But really? With the Yankees so close?
Let’s not forget, the Yankees have made the playoffs every single year since before any of the current Mariners were in the major leagues. I’m serious. They know what it takes to get there. Do the Mariners? Not if they play the way they did today. It’s only one game and they had played really well on this homestand considering the quality of the opposition. But this type of game cannot happen very often from here on in.
“It was just a sloppy game,” said Mariners manager John McLaren, whose team finished 6-4 on the 10-game homestand. “We haven’t had many of those, thank goodness. We just need to forget about it and put it behind us.
“It was just one of those games that just fell apart.”
Hear what McLaren said right here in his post-game media session. Not much else to say, really. I asked him — though I already knew what he’d say — whether he feels the need to talk to his players about the poor play and he said no. It hasn’t been a recurring theme.
It was ugly from start to finish and that 3-1 score in the seventh inning was very flattering to the home side, though an avalanche of defensive miscues the final three innings took care of any respectability left on the scoreboard.
I don’t know about Ichiro stealing that base in the ninth (actually, it was ruled defensive indifference, as noted above), down by eight. Yes, he wound up scoring on the Jose Vidro single but, well, I’ll let the phony cheers from the Boston faithful in the crowd say the rest. Ichiro pulled the same stunt on John Lackey the other night and batter Jose Guillen nearly got his head taken off by an ensuing pitch up at his head.
Kyle Snyder threw one up and in at Guillen today, right after the Vidro single. Not sure if it was intentional or not, but the timing was there. I’m an Ichiro fan, but I just don’t grasp the importance of that second run in a 9-1 game. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know.
Anyway, of greater importance, the Red Sox kept Ichiro to 1-for-14 with a chopped infield single for the series. He is only 5-for-36 against them this season. My Boston contacts tell me the Red Sox definitely have a plan for how to negate Seattle’s MVP candidate. That could be huge, especially come the post-season. This was a playoff caliber team the M’s faced this weekend and Seattle showed it still has a bit of work to go before reaching that level. The M’s were outplayed the final two games here.
“We value so much keeping him off base,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That doesn’t mean you can do it. But our guys made good pitches. I think the success you have against them has a direct correlation of getting him out, keeping him off base. Because he can do so many things.”
Adam Jones can too. Just not today. He fessed up to simply dropping the ball in that first inning. No sun, no anything else.
“I just dropped it, nothing to it,” Jones said. “I just dropped it, hitting off my glove. This is the first time it’s happened all year.”
Hear the rest of what he said right here.
As always, there’s the ever entertaining Miguel Batista audio to make us laugh. Here’s a tidbit on Jose Vidro.
“We had Vidro there at second base for probably the second time during the season. When I was there, he was catching the ball. You just have to make sure they hit it right at him.”
Like I said, the M’s have to raise their level of play. From here on in. Can’t have many more of these games. We’re headed into the final seven weeks. Lots of good teams on the horizon. Some teams playing without any pressure as well. It won’t be easy, starting in Baltimore.

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