Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mariners notes from April 12 (Seattle 1, Oakland 0)

- Three years ago at Safeco Field, I watched Rich Harden take a no-no into the 6th frame, where Adrian Beltre broke it up with a lined single to left. Granted, Joel PiƱiero got shelled and the M's were way behind once Beltre singled.

Today, a new kid on the block named Trevor Cahill took a no hitter into the 6th before having it broken up with a lined single to center by... Adrian Beltre.

This time, of course, Erik Bedard matched Cahill nearly out for out, having only allowed two hits before Cahill's no no went away. True to form, Cahill eventually cracked and the Mariners got a much needed run, while Bedard held serve and blanked the A's through 8.

- Surprising was the decision to pull Erik Bedard with one out in the 9th and a man on 2nd, even though Bedard clearly didn't look tired after 100 pitches. Perhaps Don Wakamatsu worried that Bedard would walk Giambi and he'd have to go to the pen anyway with the winning run on base, or worried that a tiring Bedard would hang a breaking ball and Giambi would kill the M's dead.

It's a bit hairy either way he goes: David Aardsma has his control issues despite leaning heavily on a four seam fastball, and there's no guarantee he doesn't meet the same fate, especially with two of the next three hitters (Giambi and Cust) having the lefthanded platoon advantage plus the patience to wait him out until ball four.

- After getting Giambi, Matt Holliday got on and Aardsma delivered a lot of pitches up in the zone to Jack Cust. Cust, the king of the Three True Outcomes (HR, strikeout, walk) was willing to foul off everything once he got to 3-2 and either wait for his pitch or wait for Aardsma to throw ball four. Cust did eventually get good wood on an opposite field liner, but fortunately the Mariners' new left fielder, Endy Chavez, has great wheels and ran down the shallow liner for the final out.

- The defense's vast improvement showed in this game, as it never seemed like the M's were in big trouble during a 0-0 game. The infield got to everything easily, and the outfield seemed to get to everything easily, even with the snailish Ken Griffey Jr in RF (who ran down a couple of iffy flyballs himself). Once Ichiro comes back, this will probably be the best defense in MLB.

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