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Live Blogging: Mariners @ A’s Game 2

April 2, 2011

9:08PM PDT: Game over. Mariners win 5-2. Another poor performance from the bullpen. Another poor performance at working counts. Another loss. Simple formula. We’ll do it again.

8:57PM PDT: Fuentes wild pitch allows insurance run to score. 4-2 M’s.

8:55PM PDT: Bad throw home. Lead is lost, 3-2 M’s, everyone is safe. Good effort by Barton, even better one from Suzuki to keep it from going to the backstop. Ichiro is now the M’s all-time hits leader – scorers give him the hit.

8:53PM PDT: Fuentes has gotten himself into some trouble already. Ichiro is up, men on the corners. It’ll be tough to keep this run from scoring.

8:47PM PDT: So Brian Fuentes is in. To face a right-handed hitter, Michael Saunders, another right-handed hitter and Ichiro who hits better off lefties anyhow. Terrible.

8:41PM PDT: Great work as Willingham pokes it between the first and second basemen game is tied again at 2. This why we went out and got a guy like Willingham. It is nice to see the new offense generating runs. Would be great for Matsui to get his first hit in the green and gold now and get the A’s the lead.

8:40PM PDT: Good work with Coco stealing third. Good to have great baserunning like that. Need Willingham to tie it up now.

8:37PM PDT: What the heck was that play? Strange play. Seems the way everything has ended up is fine.

8:33PM PDT: Lovely to see that Barton is not sacrificing. He gets a single up the middle off of new M’s hurler Chris Ray.

8:32PM PDT: Great bunt by Coco Crisp to get on. Takes advantage of Justin Smoak being so far back. Great job.

8:19PM PDT: Conor Jackson is 2-for-5 with a walk against the new M’s pitcher Jamey Wright, not sure still why Wedge opted to remove Vargas but it is a moot point as Jackson flies out anyhow to end the inning. A’s still trail by one.

8:15PM PDT: So Kouz strikes out. At least he did not swing at the first pitch nor hit into a double play. But it seems like Geren does not like Cliff Pennington hitting late in games. He is pinch-hitting with Conor Jackson. Eric Wedge is countering by removing Vargas (not sure why – it isn’t like CoJax has owned him or anything 0-for-2 with a K).

8:13PM PDT: Kouz can’t a) swing first pitch and b) hit into a double play.

8:10PM PDT: Root Sports just showed a graphic showing the distribution of pitches per inning for Vargas. His high water mark was an 18 pitch 3rd inning. Suzuki is at 0-2 and is only not swinging at pitches at his eye level. Need to be more selective. Aggressiveness has its place but when you have a pitcher like this firing on all four cylinders you need to make him work. Vargas hasn’t even broken a sweat.

8:07PM PDT: Balfour gets the A’s out of trouble. I really like this guy, he just exudes confidence out on the mound. Love that in a reliever. He has the stuff to close.

8:00PM PDT: Saunders with a sac fly to center. Lead lost, M’s 2-1. Geren is pulling Breslow to put in Balfour. Seems Balfour should’ve been the man in all along. This bullpen usage seems very haphazard.

7:57PM PDT: Breslow is again in trouble. Grant Balfour is throwing in the pen. Seems that Breslow is not yet at 100% so not sure why Geren is going to him so early when he has a plethora of options out there in left field.

7:54PM PDT: I wonder if the decision to try and have Wilson bunt reflects either 1) Eric Wedge‘s lack of knowledge regarding the lack of utility in the sacrifice bunt, or 2) Eric Wedge‘s lack of faith in his offense to score at all that he’ll scrimp for that one run?

7:52PM PDT: Perhaps Bob Geren read this afternoon’s piece as he is using a non-OOGY pitcher having brought in Craig Breslow. Still that said, I’d rather have someone other than Breslow in. Despite the lack of a huge discrepancy in his splits why not use a righty to face the Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson. Let Michael Saunders beat you.

7:49PM PDT: Vargas is thru six on 80 pitches, Anderson meanwhile is at 108. Game is tied, it’ll be interesting to see how Geren goes about using the pen, a decision Eric Wedge doesn’t need to make for a few innings at the rate Vargas is going. This guy really is an underrated pitcher. Anderson has been pitching very well too of his 108 pitches 67 are strikes (62.0%) basically the same ratio as Vargas (62.5%) the difference is the M’s hitters pushing counts.

7:46PM PDT: 16 of 22 on first pitch strikes for Vargas. The A’s need to start pushing him more. Willingham is a bit more than the others have. But the pitch count for Vargas is 75 – need to get that up and get into that soft M’s bullpen.

7:39PM PDT: Jack Cust with a basehit to center, scores Bradley now that Bradley was in scoring position. Tied at 1. Don’t like this stupid shift, never a fan of these extreme shifts.

7:38PM PDT: Milton Bradley steals second, as the saying goes “you don’t steal off the catcher, you steal off the pitcher”. He had Brett Anderson read. Kurt Suzuki knew he had no shot and thankfully didn’t go for it.

7:31PM PDT: Vargas froze Barton on that pitch. Need to give credit where credit is due, that was a great pitch. Looked like Daric knew he was fooled too.

7:23PM PDT: So of course Kouz promptly gets out on one pitch.

7:21PM PDT: Great pitch from Anderson to strike out Adam Moore. His fourth K of the night.  Anderson has thrown more strikes (54) than Jason Vargas has thrown pitches thus far (53) – granted that is with an extra inning of work. But, the A’s need to be a little less aggressive at the plate. Last night Felix Hernandez was able to get by with fewer than 100 pitches, while Trevor Cahill was knocked out after four and two thirds at over 100 pitches. The M’s approach is a smart one, whereas ours seems to be unproductive, especially given a relatively weak Mariners bullpen.

7:14PM PDT: I like how the Sleep Country Calendar for the M’s has three colors. One for home games, one for away games and a third color for – and I quote – “this game”. Hate to have to hear the discussion that took place where executives at Root Sports and/or Sleep Country felt that that color coding was necessary.

7:01PM PDT: Hit to the right side, gets a run in. Not terrible.

7:00PM PDT: Daric Barton gets his second double of the contest. Meaning with David DeJesus coming up the A’s have men on second and third. These are the sorts of situations we need to cash in on. Last year the A’s didn’t do a good job at this.

6:50PM PDT: Ichiro Suzuki‘s hit ties him with Edgar Martinez for the all-time hit leader in M’s history with 2,247. What an amazing career Ichiro has had. I think Ichiro is a HOFer which is funny as Dave Sims and Mike Blowers are talking about Edgar Martinez as a HOFer, they both agree on the inclusion of Martinez, I strongly disagree. He is good but falls very short in many categories.

6:48PM PDT: Brett Anderson is looking good so far today getting his third strikeout.

6:37PM PDT: Hideki Matsui hits off Vargas (4-for-12 with three home runs), look at him nipping on the corners. Being very unaggressive. Interesting that he some how batons down and goes after guys once he is seemingly in trouble.

6:35PM PDT: Another good pick off play – following the one last night – getting lots of work on these spring training drills early.

6:29PM PDT: Kevin Kouzmanoff bobbles the ball hit to third. I know it seems inevitable his UZR/150 goes down this season but this sloppy defensive play is really bad. Only two games, so no need to overreact but you just hate to see teams beat themselves.

6:16PM PDT: Jason Vargas takes the mound for the Mariners. Vargas had a decent year last season, his record was 9-12 but like many M’s pitchers that was more a reflection of a lack of run support. He had a 3.78 ERA with a 3.95 FIP and a 4.60 xFIP in 2010. He doesn’t strike out too many (5.4 K/9 in 2010) and has average control (2.5 BB/9 in 2010). I think he nips the corners a lot, because his walk rate really goes down in high leverage situations (3.7 to 1.9 to 1.5) so it seems he stops being cute and bears down when he needs to. So we need to get to him early.

6:10PM PDT: Aggressive baserunning from Chone Figgins testing the arm of Josh Willingham. Last year the M’s offense was historically bad, a large part of that was the career worst year of Figgins. Even a subpar season from him is a major improvement on last year, so I think that this lineup will be better than they were last year regardless. In 2009 they played over their capabilities then last year offset that by playing well beneath them. The M’s as I’ve said all along aren’t to be taken lightly, though I doubt they win more than 75 games either.

6:06PM PDT: The game between the M’s and A’s is about to get under way. The game is being broadcast on Root Sports, formerly FoxSports Northwest. It is sad listening to a Mariners broadcast without Dave Niehaus. He was truly a pleasure to listen to. My favorite Niehaus call was a recent one from late September of 2009, where Niehaus gives credit to Mike Blowers‘ power of prognostication. Listen to it here. He will be missed.

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