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May 12, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Mariners look for silver linings after Hector Noesi gives up a bunch early

Hardly a surprise to hear the silver linings coming out of Mariners HQ after Hector Noesi buried his team by five runs early, then pitched OK. Noesi did retire 10 of the final 11 batters and finished off his two-strike pitches.
But all of that, of course, came after the early deficit four innings into a 6-2 defeat.
For those who follow baseball often, you know it’s tough for offenses to help win games when down 5-0 four innings into contests against good teams.
But with the Mariners, it is about evaluating the “kids” now and so seeing Noesi go seven innings will be chalked up as a good day for him, even though he left his teammates no chance to win the actual game. In a place like New York, that stuff doesnt get tolerated for very long
With the Mariners, well, they don’t expect to win many games in places like this, so anything they do get out of it is a bonus.
“He was pitching good all day long, he just made some mistakes with two strikes there in the second inning and they made him pay for it,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But really, even before that and after that, and even in getting to the point where he had two strikes, he was really good today.
“He got a lot of good hitters out today. He got them out making his pitch and making them hit his pitch.”
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until after he’d yielded an 0-2 double to Mark Teixeira, an 0-2 double to Raul Ibanez, an 0-2 double to .197-hitting Russell Martin and then a 1-1 homer to a guy who hadn’t clubbed one since last June.
There was also the solo homer to Ibanez in the fourth that was simply mashed over the center field wall.
But down 5-0 in the fifth, Noesi became pretty good. He allowed just one more hit the rest of the way and didn’t walk anyone.
“I think he learned a lot there in that second inning,” Wedge said. “Against that lineup, the way he pitched and to go deep in the ballgame, he was really efficient as well.”
And really, no matter what is said for public consumption, it really is more about learning than winning every game for these Mariners. As to how much Noesi really learned, we won’t know for sure until he has some more outings against clubs not named the Twins or Athletics.

Noesi said afterwards that he was trying too hard initially and kept throwing from a three-quarters slot instead of over-the-top. That hurt him as he tried to finish off his pitches.
Later, he calmed down a bit, focused on maintaining his mechanics and finished his pitches off.
The problem is, the Yankees could afford to hit the cruise control button by then. Phil Hughes came in with a 6.67 ERA, but it’s much easier to pitch with a huge lead than in a tight game and he made the most of it.
For Noesi, it’s also a bit easier to pitch when a game is no longer in doubt and all you have to do is rack up innings. We’ve seen that before from some Seattle starters this year, when they give up a bunch early, then settle in and retire opposing hitters when there isn’t much else on the line anymore other than stats.
As for this one, I doubt anyone in the ballpark thought the M’s had a chance after the fourth.
Mike Carp had the solo homer in the seventh, then the near one in the ninth that became a double off the top of the fence.
Carp told me he’s been seeing the ball well ever since he came back from rehabbing that shoulder sprain and isn’t surprised to see the power come.
“It just takes time,” he said.
And it will take time for Noesi too. He showed signs today of being able to become a more complete pitcher.
But for that to happen, he’ll have to do it when the game is actually still on-the-line.
This one was done four innings in. And that won’t cut it when this franchise starts to care about winning every game, every night, as much as it does about rebuilding and player development. Right now, silver linings are enough to generate smiles. And in places like Yankee Stadium, it’s often about all that teams like the Mariners can hope for.



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