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

September 12, 2007 at 3:21 PM

Mariners vs. A’s. series finale

There you go, Adam Jones fans. A leadoff home run here in the eighth to tie the game 5-5. I was just mentioning seconds ago to colleague Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that it seems like A’s reliever Alan Embree has blown about every game I’ve seen him pitch live over the past three years. Moments later, he blows it again. Nice to see Jones deliver the big hit. Maybe that earns him a start tomorrow, though at whose expense?
Raul Ibanez has a double and a single tonight. Jose Vidro has two doubles and a single. Thing is, if you’re going to bring Jon Huber into a high leverage situation, why not just play the kids all around? It’s taking the M’s this much trouble to win a single game from the A’s. Not like they’re about to run-the-table and do anything to make the post-season.
George Sherrill gives up another big hit in the seventh, the two-run single by Mike Piazza that put Oakland up 5-4. Sherrill then strikes out the side in the eighth. Will we see J.J. Putz in the ninth? Yes, we will…
BULLPEN IN TROUBLE
For the record, I disagree with bringing Jon Huber in here with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. I mean, the M’s have a 4-3 lead, Miguel Batista just toughed out a solid six innings and you bring in a guy who hasn’t pitched in three months? Not sure I get it.
Eric O’Flaherty had another tough time to get things to this stage. But hey, look at what just happened. Huber strikes out Nick Swisher with some nasty pitches in the dirt. Shows you what I know. John McLaren wins that one. But I still don’t get it. He’ll bring Huber in there, but won’t give Ryan Feierabend another start? Anyway, the M’s need George Sherrill to get the final out right here against pinch-hitter Mike Piazza.
BATISTA UP 2-1
Miguel Batista has put the leadoff batter on in three straight innings, but has a 2-1 lead on the Oakland A’s after three. Batista has also thrown a wild-pitch, committed a throwing error and had a Willie Bloomquist error made behind him. He’s pitched out of jams in the second and third and was rather fortunate to only be down 1-0 after the third — the run being an unearned marker courtesy of Bloomquist. Big pitch of the game so far was a double-play grounder by Donnie Murphy to end the second.
Seattle had gone six up, six down against Dan Haren, but two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the third and Raul Ibanez swatted a two-run double to right to put Seattle ahead.
In other games, Kelivm Escobar improved to 17-7 as the Angels destroyed the Orioles. But a five-spot yielded by Escobar in that game ran his ERA up to 3.25 and might severely impact his Cy Young Award chances. His ERA is now closing in on the same range as that of C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett, who have similar win totals and more innings worked. Johan Santana is also in-the-mix, though his 15-11 record works against him. Yes, it’s not always fair, but Cy Young pitchers rarely lose 11 games in one season. Makes them appear all-too-ordinary. You have to win those 4-3 games sometimes.
Heck, if you want a run support argument, Escobar in late July took three consecutive losses in which he allowed three, two, and one earned runs in quality starts of seven or more innings (two of them eight innings). Had his team scored any runs in those games, he’d be 20-4 right now and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. So, no sympathy vote for Santana. He’ll have to raise his win total substantially and get his ERA well under 3.00 to have a legit Cy Young shot.
A’s starter Haren used to be a Cy Young candidate until he tailed off in the second half. Yes, his ERA is right at the top of the league, but it’s at 4.46 in the second half with only four wins and a .298 batting average against since the All-Star Break. Not Cy Young numbers. Too ordinary for too long.
Yes, the Yankees keep on winning, outscoring Toronto 13-3 at the Rogers Center the last two nights. This is what the Yankees do every September. They win and get to the playoffs. Could get swept by the Angels in the opening round, but they’ll make the playoffs.
FAB FOUR’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
So, the Mariners try to salvage a game tonight, hoping that Miguel Batista does a better job than he’s done in three of his past four outings.
Batista sure wasn’t as busy this time around as he’d been over the 24 hours prior to his most recent outing last Friday night in Detroit. Think you know much about travel? Or that you can relate to the lives of millionaire baseball players? Remember those college road trips you took with the buddies or the gals? Your own little “excellent adventures?” Nothing compared to what I’m about to share.
A handful of Mariners had quite the ambitious “road trip” of their own last Thursday after the series loss in New York. The team had an off-day before opening the Detroit series on Friday night, so Jose Guillen chartered a Gulfstream IV and took a flight from New York to the Dominican Republic along with Batista, Adrian Beltre, and Yuniesky Betancourt. The plane took off about 12:30 a.m. after the game and landed roughly three hours later in Santo Domingo early Thursday morning.
Beltre and Batista drove off to see their families, Betancourt played tourist — having never been to the Dominican — while Guillen spent Thursday hanging out with his 7-year-old son, Jose Jr. All four players hopped back on the jet Friday morning and were back in Detroit by 12:30 p.m. ahead of the Friday night game, which all were in the starting lineup for.
Guillen told me it wasn’t as complicated as you might think. “It’s not a long flight,” he said. “Only about 2 1/2, maybe three hours.”
The right fielder had purchased a block of flight hours with the jet company in advance of the season and invited his fellow players to share in the trip. “It’s a real comfortable plane,” he said. “It has a nice bed in the back so I can get a nice sleep.”
Staffers also come around, supplying food and beverages.
The four weren’t the only players not to go straight to Detroit on the team charter. A handful of Mariners stayed behind to visit family in New York. Guillen and the other three all had the club’s permission to make the trip.
Helping matters immensely was that none of the four had to wait in airport customs lines.
“It’s a private jet, so they come on board and you do it there,” Guillen said.
Amazing what you can do in a day. As I said, not the usual way most of us do it.
I read your repsonses to the last post with interest. Yes, it’s obvious that all fans of this team would prefer Option C — a winner. I was just curious about whether you saw all 85-win teams the same. That is, does the final win total matter as much to you all as how that win total was achieved?
Some ownerships base their entire strategy upon reaching a certain comfortable win total in, say, the mid-80s, so they can put out claims of being competitive even if they never really competed for anything. The same can’t be said about this Mariners team, which actually was competing for the wild card right up until the night of Sept. 5 when it lost the finale of that series in New York. After that, the season fell out of Seattle’s hands. The M’s also competed for the division title right up until Aug. 29, when they allowed the Angels to sweep them.
But to hear some of you tell it, none of that matters. It’s all about the win totals. Not saying it’s right or wrong. Just interested in how you felt. I prefer my teams to compete for something. If they flame out, they flame out. I don’t much care. Every season comes down to a handful of do-or-die games and you either win the mand move on or lose them and go home. The rest of it, winning 88 or 82 or 78, isn’t much of a concern to me.
Am I excusing what’s happened to the M’s? Absolutely not. They are throwing away a magnificent season. But at least you got some fun out of it. The folks in Toronto? They stopped paying attention — putting the team up high in sports telecasts or newspaper pages — over a month ago. And yes, the Blue Jays did win two World Series. But the second of those came 13 years ago, when some of you were barely old enough to stay up past 8 p.m.
Do you think that even counts? After all, Seattle has been to the post-season four times since Toronto last made the playoffs. Anyhow, it’s been an interesting discussion.
The lineups:
OAKLAND (71-75)
LF Shannoin Stewart
1B Daric Barton
CF Nick Swisher
RF Jack Cust
2B Mark Ellis
DH Dan Johnson
C Kurt Suzuki
3B Jack Hannahan
SS Donnie Murphy
RHP Dan Haren
SEATTLE (75-68)
CF Ichiro
3B Adrian Beltre
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Jose Guillen
1B Ben Broussard
DH Jose Vidro
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Jamie Burke
2B Willie Bloomquist
RHP Miguel Batista
UMPIRES
HP Phil Cuzzi
1B Tom Hallion (crew chief)
2B Bruce Dreckman
3B Chris Guccione
One observation here. If you’re worried about umpires getting into it with the M’s pitchers and coaches tonight, Cuzzi is an excellent candidate. Once saw him throw Roy Halladay out of a game — without warning — in the first inning for a high and inside pitch on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the same September that Halladay was going toe-to-toe with Esteban Loaiza for the Cy Young Award. So, not the kind of guy with a high tolerance level for debate.
Talked to Johjima and he assured me that he could have played tonight. But the M’s want him to rest that bruised wrist at least a day. Jon Huber just got activated moments ago. He’s here and can pitch tonight.
By the way, Richie Sexson might be done for the year. He’s been shut down at least through next week. Could he return for the final homestand? Sure, but at this stage I’m not sure why that would be a priority for anyone — him or the team. It’s not like you’re going to pad his stats much in a week.

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