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August 17, 2007 at 9:44 PM

M’s win a nerve-tester

That 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox was a lot tougher than it should have been . The Chisox seemed disinterested until Miguel Batista issued those three consecutive walks in the seventh and George Sherrill allowed the grand slam — to recent Class AAA call-up Danny Richar. You can’t blame John McLaren for going to his situational lefty in that situation, since it was clearly going to be the last shot Chicago had at getting back into the game.
Sherrill owns lefty hitters, Richar has been in the big leagues three weeks, was 2-for-his-last-24 at the plate and Batista was at 109 pitches and had just walked three in a row. So naturally, Richar takes Sherrill deep. It wasn’t a cheapie, either. Richar got all of the 2-2 offering.
Mariners manager John McLaren declared the game “a little too close for comfort” and said the five consecutive fastballs Sherrill threw to Ricar was not a sequence he liked.
“I thought we showed him too many fastballs,” he said. “I think we threw five fastballs in a row to him,. I just thought we should throw him something else. Change speeds, change his eye-level for something.”
Hear some McLaren audio right here.
McLaren mentions Jose Guillen in the clip. Guillen made that mad dash home from second base on the infield chopper by Adrian Beltre to score the game’s decisive run in the fifth. But after the top of the eighth, he jogged in from right field and headed for the clubhouse complaining of dizziness. No one knows for sure what caused it. Guillen wasn’t around for questions afterwards, but McLaren saw him and says he’s feeling OK. We’ll see how that goes.
McLaren was asked by reporters whether the bullpen is showing signs of wearing down what with the recent spate of home runs allowed by the previously near-perfect tandem of Sherrill and J.J. Putz. McLaren said he doesn’t think so at all and that both were well-rested heading in.
The decision to replace Brandon Morrow with Putz in with two out in the eighth was based on hitter-pitcher matchups between him and Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik. Erstad was 1-for-5 before notching a single, while Podsednik was 0-for-1. McLaren isn’t all that concerned with using Putz to get an extra out here and there in the eighth.
“I just felt like, the way things were going, we had to slam the door,” McLaren said. “And J.J. did. When he’s well rested I don’t mind using him for an inning and a third. It’s when you use him three days in a row and then use him an inning and a third, and all of a sudden you’ve got to use him an inning and a third the next night.
“We’re staying guarded against that. But when he’s well rested I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using him an inning and a third. In fact, I think he likes it on occasion to stretch him out a little bit.”
Hear all of what McLaren had to say.
A three-hit night for Raul Ibanez, who now has seven homers in 10 games and hitting .583 (7-for-12) off Jose Contreras in his career. Anyone think Ibanez should be benched? Me neither. Homered on his bobblehead night as well.
Ditto for Jose Vidro, tying that obscure team record with five sacrifice flies in the month of August. He talked afterwards about the importance of all the little things the team did right tonight.
“If you look at most of our wins, every run really, really comes into play at the end,” Vidro said. “We’ve been blessed with a great bullpen that most of the time has been picking us up.”
Listen to Vidro right here.
That was a nice sacrifice bunt by Ichiro to get Yuniesky Betancourt over to third base so Vidro could get him in with the sac fly. McLaren confirmed that Ichiro did the bunt on his own — he’d prefer him to try for a hit. Ichiro actually was trying to beat the bunt out for an infield single but did not succeed.
Batista comes away with win No. 13. Did his job, again allowing no more than three earned runs after taking the game into the seventh with a 5-0 lead. Around the fifth, a problem with biceps tightness began to flare up. It’s been a lingering problem he and the team have monitored all season with no real concerns. It bothered him a little and may have led to those three walks we saw.
Hear some Batista audio.
More importantly than all the stats, the M’s gain a half-game on the Angels, drawing to within three of the AL West lead. They are also still a half-game up on New York in the wild-card hunt.
Jose Contreras? If this really was an “audition” he could not have possibly made things any more difficult on M’s management. I mean, how do you judge this outing? Gets clobbered early on, giving up all those extra-base hits, but then keeps his team in it through seven — allowing just four earned runs. What a mixed bag that was. But is there more in the bag than Horacio Ramirez brings? At $20 million for two more years? I wouldn’t want to be the one making this call. Here are some more things to ponder: Last eight starts, Contreras is 0-8 with a 9.59 ERA. Last 12 starts, he is 1-11 with an 8.52 ERA. But he does get the decision, I’ll give him that. Though when the decisions are all losses with an ERA that high, it usually tells you the games are over quick.



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