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February 28, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Closer candidates shine in win

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The Mariners used a three-run rally in their final at-bats of the game in the eighth to pull off a 6-4 comeback win today over the San Francisco Giants. Chris Woodward, pictured below, got the comeback started with a solo homer off Alex Hinshaw to start the inning off. Matt Tuiasosopo, continuing to demonstrate extra-base power, promptly doubled and scored on a single by Adam Moore.
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Prentice Redman added an RBI single that inning to cap the three-run rally.
But the more meaningful stuff, from a long-term perspective, may have been the work turned in by closer candidates Miguel Batista and Roy Corcoran.
Both helped keep the M’s in the game after Carlos Silva yielded a couple of early runs to fall behind 2-0 by the second inning.
Batista tossed a couple of scoreless frames, retiring all six batters he faced. He had a little help from left fielder Endy Chavez, who ran down a leadoff shot to left center by Fred Lewis to start the third inning. It had been Lewis who tagged Silva for a huge home run back in the opening frame.
“He’s a really good defensive player,” Batista said of Chavez.
Corcoran also mowed down the side 1-2-3 in his lone inning of work in the fifth.
We’ve all heard the starters talk about how they’re going about things slowly, working merely on locating their fastballs to both sides of the plate. Silva was no exception in that regard today.
I asked manager Don Wakamatsu afterwards whether he expected his closers to be a bit more up-to-speed and he agreed with that take.
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“I think the things we’re talking about with our relievers is the tempo and I thought Batista’s tempo was better than I’ve seen in the past,” Wakamatsu said. “But really, it’s about being aggressive, down in the zone and not nibbling as much as maybe the starters.”
Click here for Wakamatsu’s audio, starting with comments on Silva, then the relievers.
“With the starters, where they’re trying to command more pitches, we’re talking about trying to get behind the baseball first,” he said. “With the relievers, we want to see if they’re coming out there and throwing sliders in 2-1 counts, or do they trust their stuff that they can get ground balls like Corcoran did today?”
Corcoran displayed some emotion on the mound in this game. He’s clearly taking his best shot at a job that, for the moment, appears to be between him, Batista and Mark Lowe.
One more word on Adrian Beltre and the team’s decision to keep him out of the WBC. I’ve read some blogosphere comments today that suggest the team is somehow providing “cover” for Beltre to pull out of the WBC and that he didn’t really feel up to playing.
Uh, the fact that he gave up his apartment should be the first clue that Beltre was all set and ready to go. Not sure what the difficulty is in understanding this. He’s told anyone within earshot these past two weeks that he wants to play more than anything. After getting those two hits yesterday, his mind was made up. That’s why he gave up the apartment, meaning that he now has to scramble for new living accomodations. Conspiracy buffs on the web will just have to come up with some new lines of fishing. Because on this, there are two basic facts they will have to accept:
1. Beltre badly wants to go
2. The team reversed its stance at the last-minute and took the decision out of his hands
Which brings us to the third very likely fact: that Beltre is not happy with the turn of events. He’s being a pro about it. He’s saying all the right things because that’s what pros do. But he’s human. You don’t simply shrug something like this off when you were this passionate about it in the first place. It can’t be easy for him to see all of his teammates packing up and preparing to head out for the WBC.
Will this impact his pending decision on free-agency? No idea.
I doubt it will help the M’s if they want to seek an extension. But I have no evidence it will hurt their chances if they truly do want to extend him. Not sold that this is even their intention at this stage, but that’s beside the point.
Perhaps none of this will matter in the big picture of whether he stays or goes. But to deny that these emotions exist, and that he’s likely going through a difficult day today, smacks a little of burying one’s head in the sand. These things are real, they are human, and they do exist, no matter how much money a guy earns.

Comments | Topics: Chris Woodward


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