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September 9, 2007 at 3:39 PM

Rough win caps rough trip

Nice way for the Mariners to kick off the NFL season, notching a 14-7 win over the Detroit Lions…er, Tigers. There wasn’t much good to come out of this one other than an actual win itself. Richie Sexson is hurt again, his hamstring still acting up. I wouldn’t be surprised if his season is done. He’s not swinging the way he was in early August. The team is going to have trainers examine him back in Seattle.
Felix Hernandez tied his career high with his 12th win. He can thank Yuniesky Betancourt for that. In fact, he did afterwards.
“Every outing, Yuni has to do something special for me,” said Hernandez, lifted after five-plus innings, having allowed six earned runs. “He’s unbelievable. He told me ‘When you sign (a contract) you give me the bonus because I have to work too hard when you pitch.”
Betancourt saved Hernandez two runs in the fourth by snaring a Magglio Ordonez shot that was headed up the middle for a two-run single. The way that game was going, 13-6 at the time, two more Detroit runs might have turned this thing completely around. The crowd gasped at Betancourt’s acrobatics there, and later when he turned a double play by grabbing a high chopper, stepping on second and throwing to first all in one motion.
“I’d say that I’d hurt myself if I tried to make some of the plays that he does,” said Willie Bloomquist, who started at second base Sunday and watched in awe as Betancourt turned the double-play without him. “He’s very special.”
Eric O’Flaherty helped put out the fire with 2 1/3 shutout innings after Sean Green had allowed a run to score. O’Flaherty needed that. He’s had a great year, but it’s been tough going of late.
Yes, this was an ugly win. It was an ugly trip. The M’s are five behind the New York Yankees in the wild-card race and the season is pretty much over. Making up five games in less than three weeks is tough enough. But with two teams ahead of you like the Tigers and Yanks, it’s next to impossible. I don’t like Detroit’s chances. Was not impressed by the team I saw today. Right now, I’d put the Angels as the odds-on World Series favorite. Better starters than the Red Sox, better bullpen as well despite recent struggles.
Here’s what John McLaren thought of the trip after the game.
“This was a tough road trip for us,” Mariners manager John McLaren said afterwards. “We’re looking forward to going back home.”
Better than what he had to say before the game:
“It’s been a road trip from hell. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. The road trip seems like three weeks to be honest with you. We knew it was going to be a rough trip. We didn’t know it was going to be this rough.”
What does he plan going forward?
“I just want to play consistent baseball every single night,” McLaren said. “That’s all I care about. I know the effort’s there. I want us to play consistent baseball. I don’t want us making mental mistakes. I want us throwing strikes. I want us to play ever game like it’s a playoff game and we’ll take our chances.”
Actually, the M’s took their chances throughout the trip and lost. The next three weeks are about pride and jobs, if you ask me. Both are on the line.
Kenji Johjima showed off his sense of humor in the clubhouse afterwards, wearing an ace bandage wrapped his entire head — scalp to jaw, like one of those cartoon characters with a toothache. That’s what his teammates saw when they came off the field. He’d raced in ahead of them to do it, having been drilled off the top of the helmet by that third inning pitch.
That’s it from me. I’m at the airport, about to board my plane for the flight to Seattle. It’s been a tough 11 days. Never seen anything quite like this. I’m disappointed, just like a lit of you are. I’d wanted to be covering a playoff team. The next three weeks might not be pleasant unless this team gets better pitching than it did throughout this four-city rollercoaster.



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