8:32 p.m.: Arthur Rhodes did his job tonight, bailing the Mariners out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning. A nice start by Erik Bedard, who threw 6 2/3 shutout frames, leaving with two on, two out and a 3-0 lead. Sean Green came in and walked Jack Cust to load the bases — not what his team needed in that situation. But Rhodes comes through with the strikeout on pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney, flailing badly at a 1-2 pitch low and away. Mike Sweeney finally put Oakland on the scoreboard, tagging Brandon Morrow deep to left with two out in the eighth. So, it’s now 3-1. If you’re going to give up a homer, doing it with a three-run lead, no one on and one out to go until J.J. Putz isn’t the worst time.
Mariners manager John McLaren (pictured below), as we mentioned earlier, is growing tired of waiting for his hitters to produce. The season is now almost four weeks old. I told you I thought mid-May might be the cutoff point for some guys, but McLaren is already trying to send a message of sorts. I asked him why Jose Vidro wasn’t playing tonight and Greg Norton was.
“I want to keep Norton in the mix,” he said. “I’ve talked to Jose Vidro about it. We need to get some guys going. Like I said, we’re a month into the season now and if we’ve got to pinch-hit for people we’re going to pinch-hit for people. We’ve gone far enough. We’ve given everyone an opportunity. This game is about winning. It’s not about me being everybody’s best friend. It’s me doing best for the Seattle Mariners and for the ballclub.”
7:53 p.m.: Greg Norton is quickly becoming a fan favorite here after just notching his second single of the night to drive home Adrian Beltre in the sixth. Seattle has a 3-0 lead and Norton is now 5-for-11 on the season. He won’t keep that up every day, but for tonight, he’s getting the job done. This team has parts it can move around. If players don’t hit, they could find themselves sitting more and more. Sitting Jose Vidro for Norton was a small move made by John McLaren, but it’s paid immediate dividends.
Another guy on the “Hot Seat”? Brad Wilkerson, who’s hit three weak-looking grounders tonight. One of them became a run-scoring infield hit, but it was a bit of a fluke more than anything.
Erik Bedard has thrown 81 pitches through six shutout innings. Looking like the ace this team traded for. Not a bad comeback start off the DL. This should be his thoughest hitting with the middle of the order due up. Sean Green and Arthur Rhodes warming up in the bullpen.
7:31 p.m.: It’s now a 2-0 game, M’s still leading, after the fifth inning. Seattle added a run in the bottom of the fourth as Brad Wilkerson nubbed one off the bat handle towards shortstop for an infield hit to score Greg Norton from third. Norton opened the inning with a single, followed by a Richie Sexson double to left. Wilkerson then got the ball in play just slowly enough that shortstop Bobby Crosby couldn’t barehand it. A double-play grounder by Jamie Burke ended the inning and yet another chance to score with a runner on third and less than two out.
Erik Bedard made a big pitch in the fifth after a leadoff double by Crosby and a walk to Donnie Murphy put two on with one out. Bedard broke the bat of No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis and got him to hit a double play grounder to Yuniesky Betancourt.
7:13 p.m.: The Mariners lead 1-0 after scoring a run in the bottom of the third on a Yuniesky Betancourt double and an Ichiro single up the middle. Erik Bedard had a 1-2-3 fourth inning with three ground ball outs. He’s yet to allow a hit (only two walks) in the four innings. So far, other than some control issues (more due to rust than anything else I’d suspect) he seems to be throwing the ball well with no obvious pain. Truth is, this A’s team can’t hit. Score some runs and Seattle should take two of three with Felix Hernandez going tomorrow. It’s time for the M’s to end this Oakland charade. A team with a lineup as popgun as the A’s have should not be 15-9. There’s just no way. The pitching is OK in Oakland, but it’s hardly Cy Young Award stuff.
6:47 p.m.: Three innings in the books for Erik Bedard, who has thrown 46 pitches so far — 22 of them in the third inning. A couple of control issues, leading to a pair of walks, but seems to be handling the A’s hitters quite well. We’ve seen this Oakland squad before. Challenge their hitters and chances are, they won’t respond very competitively.
6:16 p.m.: Sorry about the late post. The internet feed from Safeco Field is terrible tonight. They are trying to figure out the problem. Until then, I can tell you both teams went 1-2-3 in their half of the first inning. A good showing by Erik Bedard, who needed only seven pitches to get through the first on a popout to center and two ground balls.