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September 12, 2007 at 11:55 PM

Mariners win in ninth

The more I talk to Adam Jones, the more impressed I am by his poise and work habits at such a young age. This guy has star written all over him and I can’t wait to see how he’ll do in spring training next year. We caught a glimpse of that tonight with that tying homer off Alan Embree on a 1-2 pitch in the eighth.
I know how the M’s jumped up and down at home plate an inning later, acting like they’d won a playoff game instead of only their third in 18 contests this rollercoaster regular season. For me, that celebrating was all too little, too late. Felt meaningless to me. Not to the players, mind you. They’ve battled their own inner demons throughout a stretch that’s knocked them to the point of irrelevance. Down 6 1/2 games with 18 to play and two teams in front of them (in the wild-card race) will be too much to recover from 99 1/2 times out of 100. Probably worse than those odds. But hey, they won. They’re relieved. Manager John McLaren said they were “playing like a playoff game” those final two innings. Who am I to argue?
But they could have used this a lot more often the past 2 1/2 weeks.
Hear McLaren’s audio here.
Back to Jones. I asked him after the game about how he’s managed to stay fresh enough to do what he did tonight coming off the bench late. He also talked a bit about the scouting reports he’d read on Embree. It was no fluke that Jones was able to foul off those two-strike pitches.
Here’s what he said.
“Personally, I don’t really read reports,” Jones said. “Because the whole AL West, I played coming up, so I know most of the pitchers,” he said. “But the older guys, I don’t know them. Because they got to the big leagues before I started playing baseball. I’ve got to read the reports on them and see how they might be throwing. One day they might be pitching away, the next day in.
“Just like the other day when I faced Embree, he came in on me twice.”
As I said, I really like Jones. Would he have helped the team win more down the stretch? I doubt it, for reasons already stated ad nauseum the past few weeks. Seattle needed more outings like it got from Miguel Batista tonight. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Batista, our deadlines colliding with a late-game finish, but he pitched better tonight than in those other outings he felt he’d pitched well in. I disagreed with his prior assessments, as you know. Tonight, he made the pitched he had to make when all of those runners got on. He wasn’t doing that in his other outings. He also limited his walks to that game-opening four pitch free pass to Shannon Stewart. None after that, unlike his three in Detroit. Batista did have a wild-pitch tonight. He was far from perfect, but good enough for a win had Eric O’Flaherty and George Sherrill held the lead.
Yuniesky Betancourt threw a compliment out to the embattled Carlos Garcia after his game-winning hit. It was the 14th game-winning RBI by Betancourt this season. He said Garcia approached him before the at-bat and reminded him to wait for a pitch in the strike zone. It’s funny that Garcia was the one translating this compliment for us, but I speak a bit of Spanish and know that’s what Betancourt did say.
So, Garcia, taking heat for his third base coaching decisions and waving runners into outs this season, gets a positive check in his corner for tonight.
Listen to the translated interview with Betancourt right here.
By the way, I asked Betancourt about his trip to the Dominican Republic last week and he told me his brother, now in Miami, has a daughter living in Santo Domingo who he visited while there on that one-day trip with three teammates. Interesting stuff. What a life he’s led.
Jose Guillen got that ninth inning rally going with the one-out single. Guillen has become increasingly frustrated with the team during this stretch. I thought he’d be close to blowing his stack a few times. He told me he was. Tonight, he merely repeated what he’s been telling me for weeks.
“It’s like I told you, man, we need to believe in ourselves,” he said. “Everybody. Not one, two, three guys. Everybody.
“You can’t have two, three four guys going in there and busting their ass.”
Listen to this audio from Guillen.
Some of you asked me what’s happening with Guillen’s contract extension and I really don’t know what to tell you. Part of me wonders whether the recent skid by the team has changed attitudes on one side or the other. I think this team needs more of the kind of attitude Guillen brings. We’ll see.

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