Game notes: Oakland A’s 2 Mariners 1 (10 in)

Last year, the Mariners were master denizens the one run ballgame. Winning 35 such affairs en route to what many think, was a lucky 85 wins.

Tonight, the Mariners got the short end of the stick in their first such affair of 2010, losing in extras to Oakland.

It’s foolish to hit the panic button after just two games, but the doom and gloom forecast of the Mariner’s offense, really wasn’t over exaggerated. Granted, Oakland’s Dallas Braden was sick nasty all night locating his fastball and keeping Mariner hitters off balance all night with a change up(and occasional breaking ball) mix up that differentiated from his fastball by as much as 15 MPH.

The Mariners still hardly ever so much as put the ball in the air, and their only run was courtesy of a balk and wild pitch, after Guti had doubled into the corner.

Milton Bradley was vastly disappointing. Striking out twice by fishing for off speed and breaking pitches down and away. Still hitless as a Mariner, but at least had the two walks last night. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the entertainment value of a shattered bat afterwards. (I sure hope Wak didn’t pull him aside and tell him that’s not the Mariner way).

What is encouraging about the offense, however, is that it is very noticeable the fact that Mariner pitchers are taking pitches, and that pitch counts are increasing for opposing pitchers. As subtle as it may be, I’m not used to seeing so many Mariner hitters get into full counts, and especially not used to our guys battling back from 0-2 holes to drawing walks or at least making the pitcher earn the out. What remains to be seen is if we can turn that into production. We did last night, however, it still may be a work in progress to do consistently.

Ichiggins (Ichiro and Figgins) as my colleague likes to put it, wasn’t quite the spark plug they were last night, but still accounted for 3 of the Mariners 7 base runners. Ichiro was picked off in the first by a very good move from Braden.

Now, on the biggest storylines of the night.

–          The big storyline tonight was obviously, Ian Snell in the two spot in the rotation, in the absence of Cliff Lee, and the team waiting until at least June for Bedard. All in all, Snell did very well. He was locating both his two and four seam fastballs very well, while mixing in the breaking pitches when he needed to. Location was on point for the most part. But, today’s game was also proof that Snell is a work in progress. Only two walks is encouraging, but only 61 percent strikes isn’t. 6 of his 14 outs were flyball outs, which needs to be cut down. His one big mistake, was a breaking pitch that ended up in Kurt Suzuki’s sweet spot, middle down, which he deposited in the left center field seats. Other than that, the Mariners can’t complain with what Snell gave them tonight.

–          We got our first taste at what the line-up will probably be for left handed pitchers. Kotchman, who will be in the line-up everday regardless, was moved down to the six hole, while Gutierrez was elevated to the three hole. Eric Byrnes made his first appearance as a Mariner, in left field. Bradley DHed for Griffey, and Adam Moore got the call behind the plate. Not sure if Moore is the lefties Catcher or if this has to do with Wak’s desire to split the duties up between him and Rob Johnson consistently. This still begs to question, what’s Mike Sweeney’s role going to be?

–          We might be in for a long first couple of months with Jose Lopez at third. We as Mariner fans, were so ridiculously spoiled with Adrian Beltre at third base, it’s not even funny. Lopez doesn’t look completely comfortable over there yet, and an error early in the game on a soft liner seemed to prove it.