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

August 17, 2007 at 4:51 PM

Mariners vs. White Sox, Game 1

My things have changed in a hurry. Where on Earth did those three straight walks come from? Same place they happened for Batista in Toronto last month. Remember that one, when he walked the bases loaded with none out before managing to escape? Not this time, since his pitch count was too high to let him finish what he started. I liked George Sherrill’s chances against pop-gun hitting Danny Richar — until I saw that grand slam sail over the right field wall.
So, it’s now a 5-4 game, the M’s still ahead, as we enter the eighth. I’ll say one thing about Jose Contreras. He just gave his team seven innings in a game that looked hopeless for his squad not too long ago. Something to consider.
M’S CRUISING
This hasn’t been much of a contest for the Mariners, up 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Jose Contreras has given up nine hits in five innings — five of them for extra bases. His defense hasn’t looked all that good behind him at times. White Sox GM Kenny Williams was sitting just behind us in the back row of the pressbox and slammed his fist down on the table in front of him after one of several soft groundouts by his team against Miguel Batista. Williams didn’t seem to be doing much talking on his cellphone. Maybe folks are taking a pass on Contreras. Then again, Williams left a couple of innings ago, so maybe he’s holed up somewhere with Bill Bavasi? Who knows?
Batista’s been his usual stickler self with men on base. Chicago is 0-for-9 with a walk once a runner gets on.
CONTRERAS FIZZLING EARLY
Well, I’ll say this for Jose Conteras. He looks like a perfect replacement for Horacio Ramirez. It would be such a seamless transition, you’d never realize Ho-Ram was even gone. Anyway, quick, somebody pull Raul Ibanez out of there before he regresses to the mean. It’s 2-0 for the M’s over the Chicago White Sox, courtesy of Ibanez’s two-run homer. I dunno about that Contreras dude. A homer and two doubles allowed in one inning so far. Maybe we should forget about him and push the Mariners to get that Eric Gagne guy for the eighth. Whaddya all think? Hey, he could come cheap…
JONES OUT; AUMONT SPEAKS
Back to playing baseball again. Guess who isn’t in tonight’s lineup? I’ll give you a hint. We’ve been discussing him the past two days. To answer a question below about Jose Contreras, I’m told the Dodgers have a scout here tonight to see him as well. My contacts in Chicago tell me the White Sox are prepared to budge on eating some salary (he’s owed $20 million over the next two years) more than they had been before the July 31 trade deadline. I talked to Horacio Ramirez today and he’s trying to ignore all the talk about Contreras. Ramirez said he knows he’s been lousy, but figures a couple of bad breaks have made him look worse than he is. He’s convinced he can do a whole lot more. We’ll see if the team can swallow that. If Contreras pitches well tonight, it might be hard for the Mariners to lay off unless the Chisox get very greedy about money.
CHICAGO (54-66)
CF Jerry Owens
3B Josh Fields
DH Jim Thome
RF Jermaine Dye
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Darrin Erstad
LF Scott Podsednik
SS Juan Uribe
2B Danny Richer
RHP Jose Contreras
SEATTLE (66-52)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Miguel Batista
UMPIRES
HP Ron Kulpa
1B Paul Emmel
2B Dan Iassonga
3B Dale Scott (crew chief)
A real lefty-stacked lineup (everyone but Fields, Dye and Uribe) put out by the Chisox against Batista, going for his 13th victory tonight. Lefties are hitting .297 off Batista, compared to .254 by righties.
Here’s a little audio sampling from today’s press conference with No. 1 draft pick Phillippe Aumont at Safeco Field. The first voice you’ll hear is scouting director Bob Fontaine, who was seated next to signing scout Wayne Norton at the head table. Fontaine is very excited about the upside for Aumont, a 6-foot-7, 18-year-old from Quebec who looks at least 25.
Aumont throws a 94 mph sinker and the M’s are drooling over the possibilities once he develops further.
“In some ways, he hasn’t had as much time to pitch as other kids in the States,” Fontaine said. “But the competition that he’s gone up against has been better than most kids based in the United States.”
That was during Aumont’s stint with the Canadian National Team, which we all know is a baseball powerhouse — beating the U.S. at the World Baseball Classic last year and at the 1999 Pan-Am Games. OK, maybe not a powerhouse. More like a powerboat. But you get the point. Aumont has faced some pro players. Fontaine told me later that the level of competition was equivalent to Rookie League ball and Aumont already has a year under his belt.
That’s a big leg up. He’ll pitch in some tournaments for the Canadian team in coming weeks, then head off to the Arizona Instructional League.
I asked Aumont to describe the difference in talent when he made the jump to the national team, compared to the senior league squads he’d been playing for because high school ball in Quebec is all but non-existent.
“The senior team, they’re old guys,” he said, speaking without a translator despite only learning English the past 18 months. “They just want to hit bombs. They just want to hit the ball as far as they can.
“Pro players, they work the count,” he added. “They know what’s going on.”
Nobody wanted to give a timeframe on Aumont arriving here. The best high school prospects can sometimes make it up in a couple of years. At this point, I’d put the M’s most optimistic hopes at an in-season call-up in 2009 and maybe a shot at the team by 2010. That would still leave Aumont only 21. You can see why the Mariners are excited.
Listen to some of John McLaren’s pre-game audio here. No, I didn’t ask him about sitting Adam Jones. What’s to ask? We covered the topic inside and out on this blog the past two days. Good job folks.
Ervin Santana and the Angels up 2-0 in the sixth on Josh Beckett and the Red Sox. Boston routed John Lackey and the Halos in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader. Sometimes, baseball makes no sense. But that’s why they play the games, right?

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