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

September 4, 2007 at 11:36 PM

Mariners on the brink

Make no mistake. The season will be played out tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium. Yes, it sounds dramatic. But no, the M’s cannot afford to give away another head-to-head matchup. They’ve been doing it all year, having handed the AL West to the Los Angeles Angels by virtue of a terrible head-to-head record. And now, the M’s face their final stand with the Yankees tomorrow. Win and they’re a game back and buy themselves more time to compete. Lose and they are three back. Three back with three weeks and one series to go. Do the math. They’d be much better off winning tomorrow.
“We’re two (games) out and all we need to do is just get that streak we’re looking for,” McLaren said. “If we get that streak at the right time, well…like I said, this was a good game and it just turned on us.”
Seattle even stayed ahead of the Tigers. Who knows what’s going to happen next? I ran into an old baseball confidant in Manhattan tonight who reminded me that baseball is the one game you can never completely figure out. Remember that the next time someone you talk to thinks they have all the answers. None of us picked the M’s to go this far. There were reasons why. Some of them have been turned on their ear.
But McLaren’s team did get destroyed, 12-3 tonight by a Yankees team with enough hitting to erase their pitching woes on some nights. They had the pitching tonight from Chien Ming-Wang so in a perverse kind of way, M’s fans should be happy at what transpired. This was a needless offensive eruption by the Yanks. Might have helped them more on another day. Once Robinson Cano notched his single in the sixth to make it 3-0, this one was done.
We’ve gone on and on about third base coach Carlos Garcia. He’s a good guy who was never hired to be a third base coach. He was supposed to coach first base, has done a good job as an infield coach turning Yuniesky Betancourt around after those throwing woes he experienced earlier. But he made a key mistake tonight and it cost the team a shot at victory. Not a victory, just a shot. These days, a shot is all you hope for.
“You can’t get him thrown out at home plate with nobody out in the inning,” Garcia said afterwards, taking all the blame. “I shouldn’t have sent the runner. It’s my fault that he was thrown out. I take the blame.”
Yes, he does.
McLaren did his best to defend his coach, which is what a manager does.
“Carlos felt bad about it and it’s something we can’t take back,” McLaren said, adding that the play looked a lot more “wide open” than it was. “If you haven’t been out there at third base, then you don’t know what I’m talking about.
“I was out there for eight years and I know what it’s all about. Believe me, it’s a thankless job.”
Hear McLaren’s audio right here.
Thankless? Yes it is. A very tough place to coach. Garcia made the right call waving Jose Lopez around from first base on Monday when weak-armed Johnny Damon took his time playing a double to left. Hideki Matsui is a different story. Stronger arm.
The rules remain the same: with nobody out, you can’t get the runner thrown out at home. Even a double-play grounder by Lopez after that still gets the run across and the game is tied if Garcia holds Adrian Beltre at third. Any way, it’s done now. The seven-spot by the Yanks in the seventh took care of business.
“Those guys are so aggressive, they’re all just real good hitters,” said Horacio Ramirez, who allowed only three earned runs over his 5 2/3 innings as he fought to keep Seattle in the contest.
Again, the M’s did not lose this game because of Ramirez. They lost it because the offense was unable to do anything off a 17-7 Chien Ming-Wang.
Hear Ramirez speak about his performance.
Those of you who wanted to see the Class AAA call-ups in action got a treat in the eighth, when Seattle tied a major league record by sending six pinch-hitters to the plate. Wladimir Balentien had a first at-bat to remember, stroking a two-run double off Luis Vizcaino.
“It feels great, you know, like something I’ll never forget,” Balentien said. “It feels even more great that I got it done here at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are one of the best teams ever and I got the opportunity to prove myself and let everybody know what I can do.”
Hear Balentien’s entire post-game audio right here.
That’s about it. Forget Garcia, forget the 12-3 final score for a moment. All that matters if you’re an M’s fan is what the team does tomorrow night.



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