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September 8, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Mariners still have a chance to be spoilers

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As you can see, it was a beautiful night at Safeco Field (at least until it started drizzling in the fifth inning or so and they closed the roof). But it was a pretty dreary night for the Mariners, who lost to Oakland by the same 6-1 score they did on Friday.
In fact, this was a carbon-copy game. Once again, a reliable pitcher got hit hard. Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. Once again, the main culprit was unheralded backup catcher George Kottaras, who had a three-run homer off Felix Hernandez on Friday, and a two-run homer off Iwakuma tonight. And once again, the Mariners didn’t do much at the plate, managing just one unearned run. Oakland starter Brett Anderson appears to be all the way back after Tommy John surgery. He is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four starts and should give the A’s a huge boost down the stretch. They need it with Bartolo Colon suspended and Brandon McCarthy suffering a serious head injury.
“I felt we swung the bats OK,” manager Eric Wedge said. “They’re up there competing, but we’re just not getting the production we need. We’re just not finishing things off. That’s been one of our biggest issues this year offensively, finishing innings off and taking advantage of opportunities.”


Not surprisingly, Wedge wasn’t very happy after the game. Counting these two games with Oakland, the Mariners play 21 of their final 24 games against teams with playoff aspirations (the exception being the first three games of the upcoming road trip in Toronto). After that, they play three at Texas, three at home against Baltimore, three at home against Texas, three at Anaheim, three at Oakland, then close with three at home against the Angels.
“This is what September is all about,” Wedge said. “Everybody’s at the top of their game, especially the ones that are in the hunt. We’re going to have to do much better to win a game tomorrow.
“It happened quickly – tonight’s game was similar to last night’s, Disappointing, to say the least. Oakland’s a good ballclub. They’ve been the best ballclub in the second half. We’re going to have to come out better to beat them. It’s as simple as that.”
The A’s are 17-5 in their last 22 games and continue to be the most surprising team in the American League, with apologies to the Baltimore Orioles.
“I mean no disrespect when I say it, but on paper it’s not the most intimidating team,” Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “But you see what Cespedes and Reddick have been able to do in the middle of the lineup. You have to like Smith in the two hole, and Pennington is sparking them from the nine hole.
“They’ve got some things working, and it’s an even bigger tip of the hat they’re getting it done without – no disrespect again – without marquee names and all that stuff. That’s just good baseball, and they’re finding ways to get it done.”
Ryan said the Mariners are energized by the prospect of playing contenders.
“I think it’s great. It’s great. We’re playing pretty good ball, too. We’ve slowed down a little bit. It would have been nice to pick up Kuma and Felix, the way they’ve been pitching. …For a young team, I think looking back at April, May, how far we’ve come, with some new faces getting opportunities; it should be a real good challenge for us, and something a lot of us can learn from and take into next season and be better for it. None of us are saying spoiler or any of that stuff, but it’s going to be some good competition and a good experience for all of us.”
Why not use the S word? “I don’t like that word. Not til it’s over,” Ryan said. “Crazy things happen. I’m not trying to get ridiculous or anything like that, but it’s not over ’til it’s over. Our competition level should still be high, and everyone should still be hungry and trying to win games. Nothing should change from that aspecdt. We should all be trying to have our best at-bats and play our best defense and all that.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Hisashi Iwakuma

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