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September 20, 2008 at 3:11 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 09/20 game thread

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Don’t know what to say anymore, but the M’s have blown another lead and we’re now tied 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Seattle had taken a 7-4 lead in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Kenji Johjima, but then Cesar Jimenez hit the first batter he faced in the bottom of the inning, allowed an ensuing single, then watched as Roy Corcoran came on to pitch and yielded an RBI single to pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez and a two-run double by Rob Bowen. The latter took third on a terrible throw home by Yuniesky Betancourt. Sorry to state the obvious, folks. The throw was terrible. Raul Ibanez had done a good job chasing the ball down in the corner and getting it to relay man Betancourt in time.
For Katal in the comments thread, no I wasn’t “cheerleading” for anyone to pitch through an injury. Please read this part of the post again: There is a fine line in baseball between pitching with soreness and pitching through an injury
First off, neither Silva, nor Miguel Batista, was dealing with arm trouble, which is the prime area of concern for pitchers. They were both battling through an assortment of soreness and another lingering hurts that tend to pile up over time. The team was aware of Batista’s issues all season. They were aware of Silva’s back pain the moment it became problematic and he stopped pitching when it became detrimental to his game. There is a difference between that and not telling anyone that you’ve got an arm injury in which the pain was so particular, you can remember the exact pitch and inning in which it occured. Oh, and by the way, I wasn’t covering the series at Shea Stadium in June when Batista made his veiled comments about Bedard. That was Larry Stone’s first trip of the year. Hope that saves you and your buddies some time.
For Kentroyals5, if by taking a “shot” you mean I was questioning why a pitcher who had five players traded for him was throwing only five innings per start, then you are right. That’s what you do in this business. You ask the obvious questions. You ask whether a pitcher is hurt and, if the team keeps playing him as if healthy, why his performance is below expectations. If you’re OK with that kind of performance, then I suppose you’re also happy with the way all of Bill Bavasi’s trades worked out as well. So, you’re probably the happiest sports fan in Seattle right about now.
For ScottM, yes, you’re right, it’s very poor journalism to try to provide context to a quotation. From now on, I’ll just throw a bunch of quotes out there and let you folks figure them out. Stick to song lyrics next time, Scott. Or maybe you’re right. Maybe Riggleman just threw this quote out there because none of Bedard’s teammates had been having ill thoughts about him. Maybe Riggleman just said it because he was bored and couldn’t think of anything else to say. I suppose you could be right. So, I stand corrected.
Hey, at least ScottM’s a regular on this site. I tend to take what he says with a little more seriousness.
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2:30 p.m.: Lots to tell you about. Seattle starter Carlos Silva just left the game with an injury, most likely his back again, after slipping while trying to make a throw on an attempted bunt single by Bobby Crosby. The resulting error was Silva’s first since May 27, 2004 after he’d converted 162 consecutive chances. It was the longest errorless streak by any pitcher in the majors. Now, it’s over. For the second time today, Silva also walked the leadoff batter after his team had scored in the previous half inning. Once again, it came back to haunt him.
After notching a strikeout with two on, Silva yielded a single to center by Jack Hannahan that loaded the bases. Jeff Baisley then ripped a single to left field to score a pair of runs and cut Seattle’s lead to 5-4. It was then that manager Jim Riggleman and trainer Rick Griffin, pictured above, paid a visit to Silva on the mound. He was then removed from the game after 3 1/3 innings and 52 pitches. He won’t qualify for the win today despite the fact Cesar Jimenez got Seattle out of the inning with a lead. You need to go five innings to be eligible for a victory.
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2:04 p.m.: Seattle knocked softie Oakland spot-starter Kirk Saarloos from the game in the fourth inning, scoring two more runs to take a 5-2 lead. Saarloos has had an up-and-down career punctuated by these types of 52-pitch outings in which he brings little to the table. To their credit, the M’s pounded him when they had the chance. The inning’s big blow was a two-run “single” off the wall in left by Kenji Johjima. He had to stop at first base because the guy ahead of him on the basepaths, Bryan LaHair, seemed to be caught up in no-man’s land not knowing what to do with the ball nearly caught by left fielder Aaron Cunningham. Some poor baserunning there. It likely wound up costing the M’s another run.
Seattle had taken a one-run lead in the third inning when Luis Valbuena led off with a double, then Ichiro notched an infield single to put runners at the corners. Valbuena scored when Yuniesky Betancourt grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play.
1:36 p.m.: Can the Mariners make it 10 losses in a row? Can Carlos Silva, pictured above, warming up the bullpen this afternoon, win for the second time since April? Can the M’s snap a 26-inning scoreless streak? Will they ever score again? The team record for scoreless innings is 29, set in 2004.
We’ve got the answer to our first question. Bryan LaHair just tagged Kirk Saarloos for a two-run homer to right field in the second inning to give the M’s a 2-0 lead. No, that’s not a misprint. The M’s scored. And it was indeed on a LaHair homer. Seattle’s coaching staff has been trying to get LaHair to pull the ball more. They’ve told him, in no uncertain terms, that they don’t need a singles hitter at first base. They need some power. Not necessarily home runs. But gap power at a minimum. So, the streak ends at 27, tied for the second longest in team history.
Carlos Silva promptly went out, walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single to Bobby Crosby. Silva did a nice job of bouncing back after a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up. He caught Jack Hannahan looking at a sinker on the outside corner. But then a flare by Jeff Baisley dropped in front of Jeremy Reed to bring both runners home. A frustrated Silva threw his cap in the dugout when the inning was over.
We’re tied 2-2 after two.
12:48 p.m.: By the way, this ballpark is no longer known as the McAfee Coliseum. The sponsorship deal apparently ran out yesterday. So, it’s now the Coliseum. You just can’t make this stuff up.
I asked Mariners manager Jim Riggleman this morning about what he knew and when he knew it in regards to the Erik Bedard injury. Riggleman said the first he’d heard that Bedard knew precisely when his shoulder was first injured — supposedly the final pitch of his second outing of the season against Tampa Bay — was the other day when he read about it in a newspaper interview.
Until that point, Riggleman had always assumed that when Bedard talked in July about his arm being sore previously, that the pitcher was speaking more of regular wear and tear than a precise injury that kept getting worse. There is a fine line in baseball between pitching with soreness and pitching through an injury. Every pitcher’s arm gets sore during a season. Sometimes really sore.
But to “feel something” in April that gets progressively worse? That’s pitching hurt. That’s crossing the line. Pitchers are lectured about this by the team’s training staff at the start of every season. Not all of the pitchers listen. Bedard did not listen. I asked Riggleman whether he’d ever asked Bedard, before July 4, about whether he was pitching hurt.
“I think McLaren did that earlier in the year,” Riggleman said. “He’d be coming out of a game after 100 pitches and I think John and Mel (Stottlemyre) would say ‘Are you done?’ and he’d say ‘Yes’ and they’d go ‘You’re sure?'”
Apparently, media types weren’t the only ones wondering why a pitcher touted by the team as an ace was coming out of games after only five innings or so. But Bedard, apparently, never told them of the pain he’d felt that start way back in April at Tampa Bay. Riggleman became manager on June 19 and in about two weeks, Bedard’s season was done.
Riggleman said that, had Bedard told him at any point that he’d been feeling pain get progressively worse in his shoulder since that April date, he’d likely have shut him down. But the team wasn’t left with that option.
The team didn’t learn that Bedard had a shoulder problem until after that July 4 start. An MRI on July 22 (when it had become clear that trading the pitcher was no longer an option) found that there was a problem with the labrum — how serious it is will be determined when he undergoes surgery next Friday. Riggleman said Bedard “could have explained that (the labrum issue) to his teammates” — many of whom were rolling their eyes for months and questioning the pitcher’s toughness and willingness to play for Seattle.
“To me, the air has been cleared,” Riggleman said. “I think his teammates should have a better respect for him that he tried to pitch with a labrum tear.”
We’ll see whether that happens. Many of those teammates are trying to get through the final eight days of this train wreck of a season and mentally wrote the pitcher off months ago. They probably won’t walk around calling him a wimp under their breaths any more. But as for having better respect, that’s a complicated thing in a clubhouse. And the truth is, these final eight days could be Bedard’s last in a Seattle uniform.
If he’s still around in 2009, the question of increased respect could come into play.
The lineups:
SEATTLE
RF Ichiro
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Jose Lopez
CF Jeremy Reed
3B Miguel Cairo
DH Bryan LaHair
2 Kenji Johjima
2B Luis Valbuena
RHP Carlos Silva
OAKLAND
RF Travis Buck
LF Aaron Cunningham
CF Ryan Sweeney
DH Jack Cust
SS Bobby Crosby
2B Cliff Pennington
3B Jack Hannahan
1B Jeff Baisley
C Rob Bowen
RHP Kirk Saarloos

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