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September 18, 2007 at 9:41 PM

M’s hang on minus Putz; hear audio

A little too close for comfort at the end, but Seattle pulls out an 8-7 win over the Oakland A’s. Relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Sean Green gave up four runs between them in the eighth. Turns out J.J. Putz had tightness in his right triceps muscle. The team initially told us it happened while playing catch today, but manager John McLaren confirmed for a couple of us afterwards — myself and John Hickey of the PI — that the incident took place yesterday. This was after he was asked whether Putz had been unavailable yesterday and why. To his credit, McLaren didn’t lie.
So, this is a two-day old problem. Putz has never had it before.
“It didn’t loosen up, so we didn’t take any chances,” McLaren said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious with J.J. but again, his triceps was tight so we weren’t taking any chances.”
Putz says he’s never had a triceps problem before.
“I just got here, my triceps was tight,” Putz said, adding he’s not overly concerned.
George Sherrill did a great job striking out the side for his second save this season and third of his career. He had seven saves for Class AAA Tacoma just two years ago and 25 total as a minor leaguer.
“Outs in the ninth are never easy but sometimes outs in the seventh and eighth are tougher than ones in the ninth,” Sherrill says right here. “It’s just a matter of remembering what I did in Tacoma.”
Raul Ibanez was the big story of the night, driving in five runs, hitting that grand slam and reaching the 100-RBI mark for the third time in his career. Considering how bad he was for six weeks in June and July, driving in that 100 is quite an achievement.
“I am proud of that part of it because it was tough there for a while,” Ibanez said of overcoming the shoulder problem. “It made it really difficult to extend through balls. There was a lot of cutting off of swings and not staying through balls.
“I knew it was going to be kind of a grind but I just focused at driving in runs when I had the opportunity.”
Hear the audio right here.
I’m too drained to get into a whole Ibanez-Adam Jones thing again, but let’s just say we all know that one of his biggest supporters was McLaren. The latter met privately with Ibanez earlier this summer and told him to avoid trying to make up for all of his missing home runs in a few weeks’ time.
“I believe in Raul,” McLaren said. “I could see it in his face that he was pressing and he was frustrated.
“Now we know his shoulder’s strong again,” he added. “It makes a difference when you have a strong shoulder.”
Only 12 games to go. At 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card hunt, the M’s are indeed toast. This fifth Seattle victory in seven games comes far too late. At this point, savor the success by folks like Ibanez, Ichiro and — for a night — Jeff Weaver. It’s as good as it’s going to get. There will obviously be pressure to “play the kids” more and I have no argument with it.



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