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

September 1, 2007 at 8:58 AM

Mariners vs. Blue Jays, Game 2

Eight in a row now with a 2-1 loss here today. Anyone want to guess on how long this will go? Lots to talk about later on. I’m off to the clubhouse right now but will be back shortly. The series finale here tomorrow will be huge if this team wants to remain in contention.
That was just ridiculous. Jose Guillen leads off the ninth by getting hit by a pitch. The M’s burn him by bringing in Willie Bloomquist to pinch run. Smart move if you want to stay out of the double play. Especially with Gregg Zaun catching — not exactly a rocket arm. But Bloomquist never gets a chance to break a sweat as Raul Ibanez swings into a first-pitch double-play. This is what a losing team does. Forget the manager for a minute. These players have to step it up.
Game now over. M’s lose 2-1. Eight in a row. Now two behind the Yankees. Drop another game tomorrow and we’re looking at the season being done in a day or two after that.
And Sean Green gives the run right back on a walk and two singles. I didn’t like the body language I saw from Green after the first single. He did not appear to be very confident out there. He’s still very inexperienced, like most of this bullpen. I guess this team lived by the bullpen early on and now…now it’s going to die by it unless some bats come through big again next inning. This is why a mid-season upgrade might have helped this crew. It has simply given up too many late runs in key situations when it’s mattered of late. To go to the playoffs, you need more.
Jose Lopez just messed up a double play with a poor throw. Is this team not quite ready for prime-time? I’m starting to wonder. Time for Jose Guillen to get it done next inning. He’s 1-for-11 on the trip. The team needs him to come through and then for Adrian Beltre to do the same. These are your big money guys (Guillen will be shortly) and they are due for some hits today.
We’re on to the ninth, with Seattle down 2-1.
The M’s team MVP just tied the game with a bouncing single up the middle through a drawn-in infield. I was chatting with PI colleague John Hickey prior to the at-bat and told him Ichiro was the guy who would get the runner home in that situation. His ability to come up with hits when needed this year, or simply pile them up in games when his team is otherwise struggling, has me convinced he is the MVP of the squad. No offense to J.J. Putz. It might have been season-over if Ichiro didn’t get the run home there. Yes, the drawn-in infield helped, but the run would have scored with the infield back anyway. A little dramatic pinning the season on that rally perhaps. Though perhaps not. I mentioned the importance of these games just moments ago. Not the games in New York, these games. And this one might have been lost if Ichiro didn’t come through. He came through in Cleveland as well, though the M’s lost that game.
They can’t lose this one as well.
The inning ended on another double-play ball, Jose Vidro grounding into this one. I’d have liked to see a steal attempt or a hit-and-run call right there, though these two players have messed up some hit-and-runs this year.
Miguel Batista is done and Sean Green in. Seattle needs a better effort from Green than he’s given at times lately. This has to be a shutdown inning for the M’s to have a hope of winning. Give it up here and the game is likely over.
This Toronto team is playing better defense than I ever saw in nine seasons covering them. The reason? John McDonald at shortstop. Can’t hit — unless he’s facing the M’s — but is a Gold Glove caliber defender.
Gregg Zaun just opened the scoring in the seventh inning with a leadoff home run over the right field wall on a 2-2 pitch. Remember how we talked last night about the importance of these two games ahead of the Yankee series? Well, the M’s have got to wake up. Yes, the Blue Jays have played great defense today. But the M’s have only four hits off Dustin McGowan and have left three men in scoring position. Batista has pitched a great game today. It’s time for the Mariners to step up. They usually manage to get stuff done in these late innings, at least on the first two games of this trip. Today would be a great time to continue that trend because this is a very winnable contest. You can’t let these games slip away the way Seattle did in Texas last weekend.
Go into New York two or three down and the season could be over by Thursday. Just as quickly as the AL West race ended. The M’s can’t head into Yankee Stadium facing that kind of pressure. Going in a game back or tied is far preferable and might enable the team to relax, play its game and get something done. But it has to start here. This Toronto team is going nowhere fast this season and the M’s are supposed to be contending.
Let’s see if they can get it done. We’re on to the eighth. It’s a 1-0 game. I’d get Jose Lopez out of there if he has another chance to hit. Otherwise, the big names have to step up and make themselves counted. Adrian Beltre has been invisible in this game, save for his throwing error. Ichiro has four hits in the series already, but they really need a fifth this inning.
A big break caught by the Mariners here in the second inning. Aaron Hill notches a one out “double” that drops between left fielder Raul Ibanez and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. John McLaren runs out from the dugout to complain, a long conference is held and Hill is called out. Hill apparently was batting out of order. So, he gets called out and charged with an at-bat. Put-out goes to the catcher, for those scoring at home. Now, that’s a break. Will this be an omen that turns the streak around? Shades of Mike Hargrove getting that snow game called off in Cleveland.
By the way, if you want to catch the game on TV and have Comcast, flip to channel 99 and watch the CBC feed from Canada. We’re still scoreless heading into the third.
And a correction on the Mark Lowe thing. He did indeed pitch in Tacoma last night, as one of you noted down below. I asked John McLaren about it this morning at the news scrum and he was the one who offered up the whole Peoria thing. Guess McLaren has a lot on his mind these days.
So, if the team doesn’t know when its own players are going to be coming up, I guess I’ll leave it to you the fans. You’re a lot less secretive and seem to have a better grasp on these things. Keep up the good work.
Ah, September morn. I can hear the strains of Neil Diamond already. Time for this Mariners team to get down to business if it’s serious about anything. I’ve got to say, I’ve rarely been around a team that’s still so optimistic about its chances even in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Mom’s observations aside, the M’s are playing hard and keeping themselves in games their pitchers have tried to take them out of early. That has to change.
I see that Jose Lopez is back in the lineup. Must have sent him that “message” via instant text. Anyways, he’s in. Richie Sexson likely won’t play at Yankee Stadium.
“That might be pushing it,” manager John McLaren said moments ago, saying it’s “more than day to day” with him.
An update on Mark Lowe: he experienced some discomfort in his throwing elbow while down in the minors and is now in Peoria on a throwing regimen. The team is monitoring his progress closely. If he improves, he could still be called up. But that’s still a ways away. Cha Seung Baek just never adequately recovered from his injury.
This lineup, for the most part, is what the M’s will go with the rest of the way. McLaren said the “sprint” mode begins now. He might have moved that timetable up a tad given the struggles of late. Sexson’s return is the only real change he envisions from here on in. Get used to this lineup. It’s what you’ll be seeing most of the way.
“This has been our most productive lineup,” McLaren said. “And this is basically what we’ll go with.”
TORONTO (68-66)
CF Vernon Wells
LF Reed Johnson
RF Alex Rios
DH Frank Thomas
3B Troy Glaus
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Aaron Hill
C Gregg Zaun
SS John McDoanld
RHP Dustin McGowan
SEATTLE (73-60)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Ben Broussard
2B Jose Lopez
C Jamie Burke
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Miguel Batista
HP Marty Foster
1B Tim McClelland (crew chief)
2B Paul Schreiber
3B Feildin Culbreth



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