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May 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM

M’s-Rays pre-game notes, May 14

Funny thing. The sun did come up Wednesday, big and bright in the Seattle area despite Tuesday night’s downer, when Fernando Rodney blew his second save of the season and the M’s lost to David Price and the Rays, 2-1.

Manager Lloyd McClendon was taking it in stride before the series-ending game, saying, “When you have a good closer, you don’t worry about how they respond. That’s why they’re good closers; they have short memories.

“Listen, it happens. When it happens to you, you take it personally. (But) it happens all over baseball. Nobody has a perfect season. No closer has a perfect season. This guy is good. He’s closing for a reason. You move on.

“I looked out today, and the sun came up. The sky’s not falling in. We play again today.”

More bullpens

James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, each coming back from April injuries, threw bullpens before the game. This is Paxton’s third and Walker’s second, and both will make the road trip to Minnesota and Texas, with simulated games and then rehab starts in the immediate future.

Paxton’s lasted 52 pitches. Walker, meanwhile, said he threw fastballs, changeups, curveballs and two cutters in a 40-pitch session.

“Everything was pretty much locked in,” said Walker. “My fastball command on both sides (of the plate) was really good.

Beaver Believer

M’s rightfielder Stefen Romero will no doubt get updates on a key college series this weekend. His Oregon State alma mater, ranked No. 1 in one poll and No. 2 in the other, hosts No. 5 Washington  .

Romero lives in Portland and says he makes a weekly-or-so trip to Corvallis in the off-season, “to show face, and let them know I’m supporting them.”

OSU’s attack is led by former Redmond High standout Michael Conforto, a 2013 All-American and last year’s Pac-12 player of the year.

(Dustin) Ackley and Brad Miller and I, we always joke about, we’re going to take Conforto in the first round (of the June draft),” Romero said. “He’s a great player.”

Romero went 0 for 4 against Price Tuesday night, but had a career-high three hits and a homer Monday night, and has seemed to respond to more regular playing time, partly because Michael Saunders has lately been down with a hyperextended knee.

“The more playing time you get, the more you’re going to feel comfortable,” said Romero. “Some days if you’re not playing, you might have a different routine. You might have a recovery routine. When you’re playing every day, you have the same consistent routine, and it helps you prepare for the game.”

More Mac

McClendon worked with shortstop Brad Miller, who entered the game with just one hit in 21 at-bats on the homestand and carrying a 6-for-64 streak over 20 games.

McClendon hinted that the physical challenge for Miller is not to chase balls out of the strike zone.

“Hitting is hard enough,” McClendon said. “To try to get hits on balls out of the strike zone is going to make it even more difficult.

“Everybody’s got suggestions. He’s got to clear his mind, get focused and do what he does best.”

M’s minutiae

  • Robinson Cano is hitting .380 in 12 day games this year. His 14 multi-hit games leads the club, even as he has but one homer, which came on the road.
  • Seventeen of the last 20 M’s games have been decided by three runs or less.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma is the first Mariner to record back-to-back starts of at least eight innings without allowing a walk. Only three players in major-league history have done it, the last Randy Jones of San Diego in 1980.
  • Twenty times the M’s have been hit by pitches, tied for the American League lead with Boston.
  • M’s pitchers have recorded 65 three-pitch strikeouts, tied with Oakland for the AL lead.
  • When David DeJesus homered off Rodney to tie the Tuesday night game at 1-1, it was only his third career game-tying or go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later. The last one? A walk-off job against the M’s Brandon Morrow on July 12, 2008 as a member of the Royals.
  • Joe Maddon of the Rays isn’t your conventional major-league manager, and when Tampa Bay was to leave Seattle Wednesday for Anaheim, the travel party was to dress with a “Woodstock” theme — you know, peace, love and brotherhood. That was also the motif for the flight from Florida to Seattle.



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