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March 10, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Wrapping up the day

The unmistakable star of this one was third baseman Alex Liddi (seen to the right celebrating a win earlier this week in an AP photo) who hit a grand slam for the second straight day.
That capped a seven-run fifth inning that lifted Seattle to a 10-5 win over the Angels, the M’s fourth in a row, improving their record to 7-4-1.
Liddi’s blast came with two outs in the fifth off Ryan Chaffee.
Liddi said he was just trying to make good contact.
“The pitch was just right on the middle in a little bit and I turn a little bit on it,” he said. “But I was trying to do something over the second baseman to get two runs in with the bases loaded.”
He’s now hitting .364 with two homers and eight RBI and looms as the breakout star of the first two weeks. He’s on the 40-man roster, but seems destined to land in Tacoma after playing last year at AA.
But he’s unquestionably made an impression, and for an organization starved for optimism, the thought of a 6-4, 220-pounder who could play third base is appetizing.
“It’s nice to see him swinging the bat the way he’s swinging it,” said mananger Eric Wedge. “He’s learned a lot here in camp, moving around here defensively. He’s a good-looking young player.”
The other story of the day is obviously starting pitcher Eric Bedard, who went 2.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits, with 55 pitches, 32 strikes. He wasn’t as dominating as his first two starts, but he has allowed just one run in 5.2 innings, and most importantly has continued to stay healthy. With each start he makes it more realistic that he could team with Felix Hernandez to form a formidable 1-2 at the top of the Seattle rotation.
“He threw the ball well again today,” said Wedge. “It’s the same story, very consistent, delivery was clean. He’s making the baseball do what he wants it do and you love to see that”
“He’s a guy who has had quite a bit of success in the big league level. The only thing that has gotten in his way is the injuries the last couple years. He feels good and we are hoping he can stay there.”
On the other end of the scale of happiness is first baseman Justin Smoak, who struck out in his only official at-bat and is now hitting .111 (2-18, both singles). He also was hit in the thigh later in the game, adding some injury to insult. It’s obviously too early to worry much, though Wedge admitted they are working on some things with Smoak.
“He’s a big, strong young man that obviously has a great deal of ability and power,” Wedge said. “What we don’t want to have him do is go out there and try to generate that power because when you do that you get a little bit spread out and don’t quite have the same discipline you need in regard to pitch selection. When he does a good job of standing up there and staying within his approach and staying in his swing then he sees the ball better, gets better pitches to hit and can do some damage.”
— The team confirmed that Felix Hernandez will not pitch against the A’s on Saturday — his regular day to throw — but will instead pitch an intersquad game against Mariner minor leaguers. The Mariners will face Oakland and the team doesn’t want to expose Hernandez again to the A’s, a team Seattle will face often this season, including in the season opener April 1, a game Hernandez is expected to pitch. Blake Beavan will start in the regular game Saturday.
— Josh Lueke was the one Mariner pitcher to struggle, giving up two runs on a hit and a walk in 1.1 innings, though that came on the heels of some other solid outings earlier. “He was up a little bit, rushing a little bit,” Wedge said. “But he still worked thorugh it and I think it’s still good, it’s unrealistic to think you are just going to run right through everything, so anytime you have to work a little bit harder it’s better for it to happen earlier than late and see how he works through it and he did work through it.”
— Wedge said it’s too early for anything to have settled itself in the bullpen. “It’s still open,” he said. “(Denny) Bautista was better today (a hit and two strikeouts in a scoreless inning) after a couple of tough outings, and we’ve had a couple of guys throwing the ball well but we’ve got to give it time, we’ve got so many spots available got to give it time and be patient and watch these guys go out and pitch.”
Ryan Langerhans also continued his recent solid play with a double among two hits and a run scored in three at-bats. “He’s versatile in the outfield, a good base runner, good baseball player knows the game and swinging the bat well here,” said Wedge, adding it appears Langerhans is recovered from an elbow issue that required off-season surgery. “I think he is,” Wedge said. “We progressed him back slowly but he is feeling better and we held him out just a little bit and allowed him to have some reps at first base which will only help us and him from a versatility standpoint, but he is feeling good and throwing the ball fine now so hopefully he will stay there.”
Michael Pineda will start on Friday, with Nate Robertson following, when the Mariners play the Indians in Goodyear.



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