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March 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Brewers shoot the Messenger

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Sorry, I had to do the headline at least once this spring. Truth is, Randy Messenger had pitched too well for me to do much with his name. He’s had a bit of a hard time of late, culminating with a two-run homer off him by Casey McGahee moments ago that gave the Brew Crew a 9-7 win in the bottom of the ninth. That’s Messenger, above, trudging off after the blast.
Looking for closer ideas? None were put forth today. Mark Lowe got into some fielding trouble, then yielded three runs. Jesus Delgado gave up two runs before him. Delgado is out of options and would have to be outrighted to Class AAA — meaning clear waivers — if the M’s don’t keep him on their 25-man roster. So, they’ve got some decisions to make on him.
Seattle had a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning, but the roof caved in on the pitching staff from there.
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The good news, of course, was Ryan Rowland-Smith, who threw six solid innings and was one out away from shutting the Brewers out until Prince Fielder tagged him for a full-count, two-run homer with two out in the sixth. Thing is, Fielder might never have gotten to the plate had the M’s not misplayed a flyball in the sun.
“He helped himself today, that’s for sure,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of RRS nailing down that fifth starter’s job.
Mike Wilson hit two more home runs, giving him a team-leading seven this spring. Wakamatsu praised Wilson for having “reinvented himself” after being taken off the 40-man roster to make room for Ken Griffey Jr. But no, he won’t make the team. You’ve got to do more than hit homers in the Cactus League to do that and Wilson will have chances to improve his game at Class AAA. He’s on a minor league deal, so he won’t have to clear waivers. Wladimir Balentien is a better defender and his bat has looked good down here.
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By the way, Ichiro left the game after two at-bats in the first three innings out of the No. 3 spot. He’d been feeling a little lightheaded before the game — probably fatigued from the WBC — and was given the rest of the day off. On his way out of the ballpark, he stopped to chat with Brewers manager Ken Macha, his favorite player growing up when Macha played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. Had a poster of him on his bedroom wall.
Something Ichiro and I have in common. Back in 1979, when I was a young Montreal Expos fan, Macha was one of the fun players on that team’s “Bus” (Broken Underrated Superstars) squad of reservists. Others like Jerry White, Tommy Hutton and later, Terry Francona himself, became charter members.
That ’79 team chased the eventual World Series champion Pirates right down to the final day of the regular season. No wild-cards handed out in those days, so the team quickly faded from most fans’ memories outside of my hometown.
No Macha posters in my bedroom, either.



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