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July 25, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Mariners are 2-0 since “The Incident”

Is that a coincidence? Perhaps. But Michael Saunders and Milton Bradley, both of whom had key hits in the four-run rally in the eighth inning that won the game for Seattle, had interesting comments.
Saunders: “I think we’ve come together as a team a lot more. I’m not saying we weren’t in the first place. But obviously, with the whole situation that happened, I think it brought us closer together and I think we are better for it.
“We’ve all said that it’s a new season from here on out. What’s happened in the past, we can’t control. We’re just trying to play good baseball from here on out the rest of the year.”
Bradley: “It’s funny when stuff happens that are distractions. It makes us that much tighter. We have a good group already, so you aren’t going to break that up. When there’s a little bit of tension, it makes us focus that much more.
“There’s a lot of fundamental stuff that we been capable of doing all along, but we’ve just been underachieving and not getting it done. It’s nice to see us get it done.”

Figgins — who politely declined comment after the game — had perhaps his most dynamic game of the season. He was on base four times (two walks, a single and double), stole a base, scored the M’s first run, and had several strong plays in the field. If Friday’s incident lights a fire under him (and the team), the M’s will have come away with a positive benefit from the season’s ugliest moment.
Of course, it’s far too late to salvage anything but pride in a season that has the Mariners still sitting 21 games under .500. And we all have a right to be skeptical that the Mariners will have any sort of long-term bounce. They’ve teased us a few other times this season with short spurts of solid play, followed by the usual sloppiness and slumps.
Here’s what Don Wakamatsu said about Figgins’s performance over the past two days.
“He’s played great baseball. Even in the ninth with Aardsma out there, that’s not an easy play. That sun, as you saw with Youkilis (failing to come up with a foul popup), you battle that sun all day long. He went a long ways because Guti was playing deeper there. If he doesn’t get that ball, it lands. He’s playing great baseball.”
The reference was to a popup to shallow center by Adrian Beltre leading off the ninth. When Wakamatsu was asked if Figgins seems “refocused” since the incident, he clearly didn’t want to go there.
“He’s playing good baseball right now,” was his response.
Ichiro, however, is struggling. He went 0-for-5 and his average dropped to .308. He went 5-for-29 (.172) on the homestand. Wakamatsu was asked if Ichiro needed a day off.
“We’ll look at that. But it’s tough. Right when you think he needs one, he gets hot. He’s that type of player. We’ll definitely dialogue and make sure his legs are in shape. If not, we’ll give him a DH day or maybe a day off.”
Finally, a word about left-hander Chris Seddon, who retired all eight batters he faced, the final three by strikeouts. Seddon got a first-pitch strike on all of them. Since coming up from Tacoma, Seddon has given up just one earned run in 8 1/3 innings for a 1.08 ERA. Opponents are hitting .111 (3-for-27) off him.
The 26-year-old Seddon, who had a brief stint with the Marlins in 2007 (seven games, including four starts, producing an 0-2 record and 8.83 ERA), is definitely earning growing confidence from Wakamatsu. He passed another test Sunday by working in back-to-back games.
“My arm felt really good today,” he said. “It was just a new experience. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I just rolled with it. I had no clue. I was playing catch this morning and the thought entered my head that it’d be kind of cool to see what it’s like.”
When he first arrived from the minors in Anaheim, Seddon said he felt more mentally ready for the big leagues than during his first stint with Florida. It has turned out that way.
“I’m a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident too,” he said. “That’s one of the bigger parts of my game. Just challenging guys and believing that my stuff can get hitters out and I can be competitive.”



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