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

September 7, 2007 at 3:04 PM

Mariners vs. Tigers, Game 1

(6:32 p.m.) To “Nick”, I’ll assume that John McLaren was going for a lefty hitter against a righty pitcher in Justin Verlander. But I’m with you, there. Jeff Clement wouldn’t be my first choice either. Heck, I’d just pinch-hit Adam Jones right there if you’re going to do it. He’s the only one of these guys who’s seen more than a few major league pitches in the past month.
(6:13 p.m.) — And Jeremy Reed goes down swinging on three pitches. When I said I agreed with pinch-hitting for Jose Lopez, Reed wasn’t the first guy who came to mind. Jeff Clement might have been more interesting, though I suppose they wanted a guy with major league experience out there facing Justin Verlander in a tight situation. Bottom line? When you’re using guys called up from Class AAA just days ago to pinch-hit for your regular second baseman in a pennant race, something’s wrong. Believe me, this isn’t part of the master plan. John McLaren told us two days ago that the call-ups were here as a “reward” for their Class AAA seasons, not to be playing pivotal roles. With some guys, it’s a little different than others. I’m all for being flexible, but using Reed in that situation seems a little desperate.
We talked yesterday of ways to get Adam Jones in the lineup without sacrificing the bat of Raul Ibanez (1-for-2 with a single and sacrifice fly tonight) or Jose Vidro (2-for-3 with a double and run scored tonight) and taking Lopez out and letting Vidro play at second is one way.
Yes, I know there is defense sacrificed, but what kind of defense has Jose Lopez provided during this recent stretch? This offense has scored only six runs in the last three games, including tonight’s. I’d sacrifice the “D” to get Jones in there with the other bats. You could play Ibanez or Vidro at first base and bump Ben Broussard to the bench, but why? He’s hitting. I know it’s not palatable defensively, but even the slickest defense in the world isn’t going to win many games when the offense scores two or less.
By the way, Curtis Granderson led off the bottom of the inning with a solo homer off Miguel Batista. Now a 5-1 game, with the M’s about to lose their 12th game in 13 tries. This is becoming a streak of historic proportions.
(6:08 p.m.) — Wow. That’s all I can say. John McLaren is pinch-hitting for Jose Lopez with the bases loaded and one out here in the seventh. Using lefty bat Jeremy Reed instead. That speaks volumes. Can’t say I disagree, but if you feel that strongly about your everyday second baseman’s abilities, why is he still playing every day? Reed, by the way, just swung at the first pitch. Fouled it off.
(5:45 p.m.) — It’s now an official game as we’re through the fifth. Miguel Batista seems to have settled down after the rough start and has kepot his team in it. But this offense will have to get it going. We’ve seen throughout the road trip that the Mariners tend to come to life in about the seventh inning. If Batista can keep this game at 3-1, the M’s might have a shot. On to the sixth. Only two hits by Seattle so far. This lineup looks like it could use a boost. Some new blood. At least for a night.
The tarp is coming off, though I’m not sure whether that’s good news for Mariners fans. It’s good news for reporters though, since I’ve been through enough of these delays for one season. Still lots of thunder and lightning around. I’d say they start within another 10 minutes.
They didn’t need Mike Hargrove this time as the skies opened up with the game two outs away from becoming official. We could be waiting a while. At least an hour from the looks of things. Raul Ibanez drove in Jose Vidro with the only Seattle run after the latter had doubled in the fourth. The rain has actually stopped, even as they spread the tarp on the field. Crowd is going nuts, wanting them to play the final two outs of the inning. But this could be a deal where it starts raining again in 30 seconds…
Ugly clouds are hanging overhead, promising a deluge of biblical proportions. OK, maybe not biblical. But it’s going to rain real hard, real soon, from everything we’ve been told. The M’s are down 3-1 with three outs to go until it’s official…can they prolong this thing? Where’s Mike Hargrove when you need him?
The only good news for the Mariners here is that there is a massive storm front moving in to the Detroit area, replete with tornado warnings and stuff. Detroit leads 3-0 but if the skies open up within the hour, it could wash away the game before it’s official. The bad news? The folks here in Detroit are apparently so hard up for gate revenues that they could wait all night to get this one in — especially if the Tigers have the lead. Which they now do at 3-0. The free-swinging M’s have hit a couple of balls hard, but you don’t get the feeling they’re going to win tonight.
The sky is really getting dark now. Rain will be here shortly. And still two full innings to go until it’s official.
Miguel Batista just got a much-needed double-play grounder off Carlos Guillen or else John McLaren might have needed to get a reliever up here in the first inning. Hey, he’s got Jorge Campillo in the bullpen. Think he’s good for six tonight? Batista already trails 2-0, having yielded two singles, a double, a walk and uncorking a wild-pitch in the process. Another couple of runs and this game might be over, with Justin Verlander on the hill for Detroit.
Here’s the lineup. And a one, and a two, and a three, and…well, and nothing. Same lineup, different day. Seems the Mariners are prepared to sink or swim with what they’ve got.
Jorge Campillo has been called up and will serve as the bullpen’s long man from the right side. Remember, Jeff Weaver pitches tomorrow and has been knocked out early his last two starts — not to mention his last start here at Comerica Park back in May. Campillo finished his season last week, leading the Pacific Coast League in ERA. He’d been told to report to Arizona, where he threw a bullpen session in order to stay fresh just in case he got the call.
After Rick White’s latest struggles in New York on Wednesday night, Campillo got the call. Mariners manager John McLaren said White’s velocity was fine and that he felt he pitched well that first time out in Texas. But after a so-so outing the next time out, the manager gave him one more try in a high leverage situation against the Indians and…well…you all know what happened.
“He just couldn’t throw strikes,” McLaren summed up.
The manager met with his bullpen a short while ago in the clubhouse. He wanted to remind the younger guys, especially, that they were the ones who helped the team get this far.
“I just wanted them to feel good about themselves,” he said.
I spoke to George Sherrill about it and he agreed that the entire bullpen is going through a rough time.
“I think that kind of a thing feeds off one another,” Sherrill said. “You’re always going to go through a stretch.”
As for his own stretch of hard luck, Sherrill says he feels physically fine, that the elbow problems of last year haven’t been an issue. Not that he’d tell me if they were, you understand. Sherrill says he got squeezed the other night in New York and was unable to make the pitches he wanted to.
There is a kind of malaise hanging over the team right now. A pall, I guess you’d call it. Everyone seems a little weary, hardly a surprise considering the extent of the travel on this trip, even with the off-day. Until this team wins two in a row, I don’t expect to see it life. It’s tough to go to work every night during a miserable streak like this. It isn’t about wanting to play the game enough. They all want to play. It’s that it simply becomes a real downer having to endure a negative experience night after night.
There is a lot of anxiety going around and frankly, no pep-talk is going to completely ease it. That part involves winning. The good news? The state of the Tigers right now is niot a whole lot better. One of these teams will likely see their season all-but-ended this weekend. By the way, the M’s lost every coin flip possible in the tiebreaker scenarios held today. That means, if they have to play a tiebreaker, it will be on the road.
“Don’t tell me we’ll have to go to Cleveland again!” McLaren quipped.
Judging by the Indians’ six-game lead atop the AL Central, not bloody likely.
DETROIT (75-65)
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Placido Polanco
DH Gary Sheffield
RF Magglio Ordonez
SS Carlos Guillen
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Timo Perez
1B Sean Casey
3B Brandon Inge
RHP Justin Verlander
SEATTLE (74-64)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Ben Broussard
C Kenji Johjima
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Miguel Batista
HP Rob Drake
1B Gerry Davis
2B Brian Gorman
3B Paul Nauert



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