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Mariners blog

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

August 30, 2007 at 3:02 PM

Mariners vs. Indians, series opener and finale

And Rick White gets an out, but walks consecutive batters — including Kenny Lofton on a 3-2 pitch — to force home the winning run in a 6-5 loss for the Mariners. No, I guess White won’t be doing this late-game stuff much longer. Awful defeat here, making it six in a row. On the the clubhouse, commence your second-guessing…
WHITE IN
Eric O’Flaherty hits Ryan Garko with an 0-2 pitch, putting two on for…Rick White. Start your moaning engines please! Thing is, I know John McLaren’s logic here. He’s saving J.J. Putz for a save situation. Rick White is what he’s got otherwise. If this blows up, it’s going to look really bad. I’ll tell you what, if White blows it here, I think we’ll have seen the last of him in these types of late-inning situations. I’ll stick to what I said earlier, White hasn’t pitched all that poorly in high-leverage outings. This is what he’s here for and they’re using him. Let’s see what happens.
M’S TIE IT
That had to be one of the worst at-bats I’ve ever seen with a positive outcome, as Yuniesky Betancourt hacks and slashes at every pitch, even balls 3 and 4 over his head, before somehow getting a ground ball to the right side that ties the game in the ninth. Adam Jones had sacrificed earlier on to get the runners to second and third. Although the count was 3-1 with no out, you can sacrifice in a situation like that because it gets the tying run to third with less than two out. That means, you don’t need a hit to tie the game — as we just saw.
Yet another blown save by Cleveland closer Joe Borowski, the weakest link to the Indians’ playoff chances. Crowd here can’t stand him. They were groaning from the first pitch onwards.
Jose Vidro is having a terrible 0-for-5 night at the plate and just struck out with runners at the corners by taking a third strike. That was a 34-pitch outing by Borowski. Eric O’Flaherty now on. I guess they’re saving Rick White for a really high leverage situation. (smiles). No, probably just for extras (or maybe not, since he pitched in multiple innings yesterday). Or maybe yes, since he’s now warming up with J.J. Putz. Whoo boy, the blogosphere is heating up already. Miguel Batista is available. I can see him in the dugout with a broom in his hands, helping the clubhouse kids sweep up sunflower seeds. I told you, this guy’s cut from a different cloth.
Tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth.
BULLPEN BLOWS IT
The bullpen just blew the lead in the bottom of the seventh, with George Sherrill giving up the tying run on a Victor Martinez single that dropped into center. Brandon Morrow then entered with two on and served up a line drive double to left by Ryan Garko that scored the go-ahead run for a 5-4 Cleveland lead. Ouch, that hurts this team.
Raul Ibanez had a shot at the ball and it nicked off his glove. Would Adam Jones have caught the ball? Quite possibly. It was hit very hard, but Ibanez nearly got there. And if he nearly gets there, Jones probably does too. Does Jones catch it? Maybe. But Jones is in right field tonight and even he can’t catch liners to left from there. So, will the M’s lose because of Ibanez’s defense in left tonight? They might. His defense and a performance by the bullpen that has not been up to snuff thus far.
SEATTLE AHEAD 4-3
Is this the night Adam Jones arrives? Just tied the game with a single to left in the seventh and Yuniesky Betancourt has put Seattle ahead with his own base-hit to the same spot. Now 4-3 for the M’s. What a comeback this has been, at a time when the team desperately needed one. The kind of turnaround contenders make. Let’s see what happens from here.
To “Resin” I agree that Esteban Loaiza might have helped the M’s. They don’t comment on player decisions like that, but my guess is they didn’t like his $8 million in remaining pricetag and feel they’ve got Horacio Ramirez turned around enough that Loaiza wouldn’t help at this stage, for that cost, for just one month of this year and then 2008. I don’t know. I like Loaiza’s relatively low cost for another year. And I’m not sure Ramirez is fully “turned around”, but he looked OK tonight. Survived almost six innings, allowing just the three runs. That’s a fifth starter. Tough call, but I think Loaiza would have helped the club this year and beyond. Obviously, the M’s disagree and feel Ramirez can give them enough, at least until some September call-ups arrive (no, I don’t have the names yet).
In case you hadn’t heard, former manager Mike Hargrove, who lives 20 miles from Cleveland, is taking in tonight’s game from a suite just to the left of our pressbox. His wife came in to chat a while ago and we all spoke with Hargrove down in the clubhouse before the game. He’s grown back the goatee, put on a few pounds, but looks and sounds more relaxed than ever.
Hear some of what he said right here. The first voice you’ll hear is Jose Guillen interrupting as he walks into the players’ food lounge, where we were, to greet Hargrove. A very warm exchange. Later on, you’ll hear Miguel Batista also walk in and say hello. Batista jokes that he thought we were all interviewing the chefs.
More Hargrove right here on why he left and the questions that linger about his departure.
“It’s been fewer and fewer, but I got asked twice this week so far,” Hargrove said. “I thought that baseball was America’s past-time. It’s not. It’s conspiracy theories. John Kerry’s probably the one that started it and Hillary’s bringing it on through.”
M’S CUT LEAD TO 3-2
Adam Jones just got the team on the board with his second career homer — first of this season — a 399-foot no-doubt shot to right center in the sixth. Signs of life for the M’s. Yuniesky Betancourt just doubled and Jose Guillen drove him home with a single to right. Give Horacio Ramirez some credit so far. He’s bent, but hasn’t quite broken yet and the Mariners are in the game, down 3-2. Glad to see Jones contribute something. He has a great bat. Only trouble is finding the room to get him in there. By the way, Richie Sexson is out with a tight left hamstring. Maybe he can play first base? Just kidding.
SEXSON, IBANEZ
To answer some questions on Richie Sexson, he hits well in Cleveland and is facing a lefty tonight. As I wrote last night, I was in favor of starting Richie tonight to see how he does. If he stinks it up, sit him tomorrow in Toronto and see what Ben Broussard does and so on. The upside that Sexson can provide this team if he goes on a September tear is much greater than what Jose lopez can bring if he improves. That’s why Sexson gets the preferential treatment over Lopez. As I’m writing this, Sexson has just grounded out for the second time tonight. If this continues, I’d be shocked to see anyone but Broussard play first tomorrow.
And as I finish writing this, Sexson is out of the game. He may have gotten hurt, because he just finished hitting. Jose Vidro is now plaing first, Willie Bloomquist is in at second.
And no, Raul Ibanez is not “running the team” at all. He told the manager he’d rather have the day off in a place where the turf is going to wear out his legs. We were told before the game that the team is very close to the point where the same lineup is going to be run out there every game the rest of the way. To do that, the team has to stay healthy. Resting Ibanez on turf is part of that equation. I don’t think we were going to see Bloomquist swat three home runs in Ibanez’s spot. To be honest, there’s not much difference between Ibanez versus a lefty and Bloomquist versus anybody in one game.
If a player tells a manager his legs will be better off with a rest day on turf and the manager decides to listen, it’s not a case of the player running the team. This happens every day, all over the major leagues.
TRIBE UP 3-0
Hey, Adam Jones would have made that throw! Oh, wait…he just did. Actually, there was little to be said for either of the poor throws just made by Jones and Raul Ibanez on back-to-back RBI singles that have made this a 3-0 game for the Indians in only the second inning. These aren’t the Twins or Rangers being faced by Horacio Ramirez tonight. Ibanez looked to have hesitated before throwing home (almost looking surprised to see the runner waved around second). The throw went all the way through, arriving well after the runner and allowing Jason Michaels to take second.
Jones then made a much stronger throw home as Michaels rounded third on a Chris Gomez base-hit (when Chris Gomez is beating you, you know you’re in trouble). Much too strong a throw, it turns out, since it went well over catcher Kenji Johjima’s head.
Fells like this game is already over. We’ll see. Yankees have won already, as you know. All of these runs off Ramirez are coming with two out.
LOPEZ OUT AGAIN
Good afternoon to all of you, “rb” and “byebyeIbanez” and “Oregongal” and “Cubby” and “vogel” among many of our other frequent contributors. I noted a comment from “Stephen in Sandpoint Idaho” wanting to know more about the “mental side” of baseball. Well, today seems like as good a time as any to delve into that topic since Jose Lopez is again a healthy scratch tonight and could be for a few more days.
Jose Vidro gets the start at second in order to keep his bat in the lineup. Adam Jones will start in right and Jose Guillen (whose contract is still being negotiated, by the way, and won’t be announced any time soon — not this week, in any case) gets a half-day off as the DH. Lopez is out because of the things that don’t show up on a scoresheet. Mariners manager John McLaren and some others in the front office and the coaching staff are not happy with how Lopez has gone about his daily routine as his numbers have steadily declined for a second straight year. Now, he has to earn his way back into the lineup.
Hear the audio on it all right here with some of the quotes inserted down below.
“I had a very, very good talk with Jose,” McLaren said. “I told him I believe in him, that there’s some things I’d like for him to do so that he doesn’t…he’s always been strong in the first half and starts to struggle in the second half.
“I don’t know how long we’re going to sit him,” McLaren added, “but we’re going to sit him down for a while, let him gather his thoughts.
“I just want to see him do everything like he’s always done. Get in the weight room, take his ground balls, get in the batting cage and prepare totally for every game. I want him to think (through) situations beforehand. With that said, I think it’s going to be very beneficial for him and the team to have him take that approach.”
“A lot of guys think somethimes, because it’s getting late in the season, that they can slack off on this and that and this and that. And it’s part of the mental preparation that they need to do these things, and be in the weight room and all these other things that can help him stay strong.”
McLaren wants Lopez to “get back to being the All-Star second baseman that he’s been.”
Does this mean Vidro plays second every day. No, it doesn’t. McLaren made it clear he doesn’t want this to become a regular thing. I’d expect to see more of Willie Bloomquist in there.
I asked McLaren about the difference between playing meaningful games in September and ordinary ones at other times of the season and whether it actually has an impact on player performance, or whether it’s all a media creation. Here’s what he told us:
“I just think it’s something that…our young players for the first time have to get used to,” he said.
“The games are all significant and there’s little room for error,” he added. “When you do have a breakdown, it shows up and it’s magnified more. That’s the way it is.”
Hear what McLaren said about that later on in this clip, which starts with him discussing the letdown of losing that series to the Angels.
The lineups:
CLEVELAND (75-57)
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
C Victor Martinez
1B Ryan Garko
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Jason Michaels
3B Chris Gomez
LHP Aaron Laffey
SEATTLE (73-58)
CF Ichiro
2B Jose Vidro
DH Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
RF Adam Jones
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Horacio Ramirez
UMPIRES
HP Sam Holbrook
1B Randy Marsh (crew chief)
2B Bob Davidson
3B Hunter Wendelstedt

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