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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't insist on selling Russell Wilson short - The Seattle Times (blog)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shouldn't be judged by his lack of height
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times

short QB

That was the subject line of the e-mail that arrived Tuesday. You can guess what followed: A complaint against the performance of Seattle's offense -- specifically in the red zone -- under the direction of Russell Wilson so far this season.

Never mind that Wilson completed 15 of 20 passes on Sunday, setting a franchise record for completion percentage by a rookie. Forget the fact he led the team on scoring drives of 90 and 88 yards in the second half of a 20-point victory.

While there are plenty of fans that believe we're past the point of discussing the height of Seattle's rookie quarterback, there's a whole other chunk of people who just can't get over the fact that he's 5 feet 10 5/8 inches.

It's impossible to debate or even discuss Wilson with those people for whom his height is a dealbreaker. They wouldn't have drafted him, certainly wouldn't have started him the first game of his rookie season and ascribe any less-than-perfect pass to the man's stature.

It makes for a frustrating situation because there's no way to bridge the gap, and it got me to thinking of other circumstances in which one inalterable physical characteristic was reason to dismiss a player's capability of playing the position outright.

That got me thinking about the role race has played in the assessment of quarterbacks over the years. There are some people who aren't going to be interested in this topic or angered by it. I don't think that's a reason not to write about it. I also think that in broaching an issue like race, I should fully explain my rationale.

And let me start out what I'm not saying:
• I'm not saying that scrutinizing or even criticizing Wilson's height is tantamount to racism. They are two very different issues. Race is a social construct that I think most of us can agree has nothing more to do with someone's ability to play quarterback than his eye color while height is a valid strategic consideration in football. There are obvious logistic difficulties for a sub-6-foot a quarterback whose job entails standing behind a wall of five offensive linemen, all of whom are 6 feet 3 or taller with a bunch of snarling, carnivorous defenders trying to get to him.

Only a bigot would say that a player's race affects his ability to play quarterback, and only an idiot would assert that a quarterback's height is irrelevant in a game where size is so very important.

Where I saw the correlation between race and height was the fact that the conclusions and assumptions about that one physical trait obscured all the rest of the attributes that player may have possessed.

That one characteristic overshadowed everything else, making people blind to the potential and possibility that player may have had.

You may believe that Wilson's height will impede his career, that he won't ever be able to lead a team consistently into the playoffs simply because of the logistical challenges. And that might turn out to be true.

It also might turn out to be wrong. Maybe height isn't as important in today's NFL as it was. Maybe it was never that important. Or perhaps it is that important, but Wilson turns out to be so gifted in other areas that he's still able to succeed.

And if the preoccupation with his height makes you blind to the other assets Wilson has or the mounting list of evidence that he might not only succeed in this league, but do it quicker than anyone could have imagined, well, that's almost as close-minded as thinking that race somehow affected a quarterback's play.

Thompson hits milestone in Storm's win - The Seattle Times

SEATTLE â€"

Tina Thompson scored 10 points to become the first WNBA player to reach the 7,000 for her career and help the Seattle Storm beat the Chicago Sky 75-60 on Tuesday night.

Ann Wauters scored 16 points, Katie Smith added 13 and Ewelina Kobryn had 12 for Seattle (14-18).

The Storm, who already have clinched a ninth consecutive playoff berth, snapped a four-game losing streak.

"I didn't know about it until today," Thompson said about the chance to break 7,000 points. "Winning is first and foremost for me. These things are great and it's something I'll probably relish in and enjoy after my career. But for me winning is always first so getting a win definitely makes it sweeter."

Epiphanny Prince had 21 points and Shay Murphy 12 to lead Chicago (13-19). The Sky remained one game behind New York for the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The Sky have yet to make the playoffs since joining the league in 2006.

Thompson hit a 13-foot jumper off an assist from Tanisha Wright to break the milestone with 9:02 left in the first half. The 15-year veteran entered the game seven shy of the mark. She had all her points in the first half.

Seattle coach Brian Agler enjoyed the chance to see Thompson set the milestone.

"She's just a true professional," Agler said. "She comes to work every day and takes care of herself. She's got one of the nicest touches on the basketball that I've ever been around. She knows how to score. She's a good teammate and a proven winner.

"You watch her play and she makes winning basketball plays. She'll go down as one of the all-time greats."

Sue Bird, who had eight assists for Seattle after missing three games with a hip flexor, put some perspective on Thompson's achievement.

"It's very impressive and definitely speaks to her ability to score, her longevity and her consistency," Bird said. "You can't overlook those things. There's going to be a lot of players that come and go in this league and only a few are going to have those qualities and she's one of them."

Seattle, which led by as many as 21 points in the first half, scored the first eight points of the third quarter to lead 54-28 and were up 60-32 midway through the period.

"We never quite recovered from the first swing that Seattle threw," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "I think they shot 57 percent in the first half and we never quite recovered from that. I felt we had good looks, but they didn't go down."

Thompson scored 10 points and Smith had nine to help the Storm to a 46-28 halftime lead. The Storm shot 57 percent (16 of 28, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range, in the first half while Chicago shot 31.6 percent (12 of 38).

Storm center Lauren Jackson (strained hamstring) missed her third consecutive game. Jackson said after the game she will return on Friday against San Antonio.

Seattle, fourth in the Western Conference, will open the playoffs the latter part of next week against Minnesota.

Chicago center Syliva Fowles missed her fifth straight game with a lower leg injury.

Swin Cash had six points and seven rebounds in her first return to Seattle since being traded with Le'coe Willingham in the offseason to Chicago for the No. 2 draft pick, which the Storm used to select Shekinna Stricklen.

Mariners lose in 18 innings, 4-2, to Baltimore - The Seattle Times

SEATTLE â€"

With each inning that rolled by Tuesday night, the Seattle Mariners' odds of winning kept falling.

That's because they were playing the Baltimore Orioles: a team deep in playoff intensity, a team that had beaten the Mariners six straight times, a team that had won 13 straight extra-inning games - including going 8-0 on the road.

Both of those streaks were extended.

Taylor Teagarden stroked a pinch-hit RBI single to right in the 18th inning to help give the Orioles a 4-2 comeback victory over the Mariners. The Orioles' 14-game extra-inning winning streak is the longest since the 1949 Cleveland Indians won 19 straight.

The win allowed the Orioles (84-64) to pull within a percentage point of the Yankees (83-63) for the lead in the AL East. The Yankees were rained out Tuesday and will play a split double-header with Toronto on Wednesday.

Baltimore maintained a three-game lead in the wild-card race over the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Texas 11-3 in Anaheim.

"It's tough," said Nate McLouth, who had three hits. "When you start going that long, there's a part of you that has to fight the feeling, `Oh, let's just get this game over with.' Especially in the position we're in. It's a really important game. It's hard to stay locked in that long."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said to essentially play a continuous double-header "is a challenge. It's a scenario you don't get into too much, but every now and then it happens. It's tough on both sides offensively. Everyone wants it so bad. We had so many opportunities. One more hit and the game's over.

"It wasn't that we weren't creating opportunities. A couple bunts we didn't get down hurt us. But we still had opportunities on top of that, just nobody stepped up offensively."

McLouth opened the 18th with a walk off Lucas Luetge (2-2). With McLouth breaking toward second, J.J. Hardy sent a single through the right-side hole. McLouth continued onto third.

McLouth said it wasn't a hit-and-run.

"I felt like I could get the bag. He had a strike on him so he swung," he said. "It happened to go in a good spot."

Teagarden then lifted his game-winner down the right-field line. Hardy later scored on Mark Reynolds' fielder's choice.

Tommy Hunter (5-8) picked up the victory. And he did it with a little extra measure of "good luck." Just before taking the mound in the 16th, one of the hovering seagulls unloaded on his hat.

"Here I was minding my own business," Hunter said. "Guys were dying laughing. Then everyone said it was good luck. Then we won the game."

Jim Johnson worked the 18th to pick up his 44th save - most in the majors - in 47 opportunities.

"That dugout was alive the whole time, the whole extra innings," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles rallied in the ninth off starter Erasmo Ramirez, who had allowed just two hits and was sitting on a 2-0 lead. Pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty and McLouth opened with singles to bring in closer Tom Wilhelmsen.

Hardy dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Chris Davis followed with a two-run single to right.

"It tried to be aggressive with the hitters in the ninth," Ramirez said, "just tried to get ahead in the count."

Wedge said Ramirez "was fantastic. He threw a great ballgame. You look back to the previous two starts before he got hurt and the last two. That is what you want to see, that is what you love to see."

Wei-Yin Chen went 5 1-3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out two.

It was the longest extra-inning game for the Mariners this season. They are 5-8 in extra innings.

Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley each had three hits for the Mariners.

It appeared that Chen would breeze through the fourth after the first two batters bounced out to the infield. Casper Wells then drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Miguel Olivo followed with his 11th home run on a 1-2 curve from Chen, who had started him with four straight fastballs.

Ramirez retired the first nine batters before McLouth's leadoff single in the fourth, just tipping off the glove of second baseman Ackley. He then retired the next eight straight before McLouth's double to center in the sixth. Center-fielder Franklin Gutierrez caught the ball on a dive but it popped out of his glove on contact with the ground.

Ramirez, recalled from the minors on Sept. 1, matched his career high with eight innings. He allowed four hits and both runs were charged to him. He struck out six and walked no one.

Olivo caught the entire 18 innings.

"This is the first game I catch two games in one," he said.

Wedge said of Olivo, "Miguel is as tough as they come and his drive, his heart and his intensity are second to none. ... you feel for all your guys, but your guy is back there catching 18 innings and fighting through it all."

NOTES: DH Jim Thome (neck) and LHP Troy Patton (ankle) are finishing rehab assignments at the Orioles' Sarasota facility and could rejoin the club this weekend in Boston. "They're both close," manager Buck Showalter said. "We'll make the call (Thursday)." ... RH Miguel Gonzalez and RH Chris Tillman will start in Boston with the third starter to be decided. ... Chen is just the fourth Orioles rookie pitcher since 1954 to make at least 30 starts. He joins Bob Milacki (36 in 1989), Tom Phoebus (33 in 1967) and Brian Matusz (32 in 2010). ... Felix Hernandez was recognized before the game as the Mariners' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. "That's a great honor," manager Eric Wedge said. "Felix is the total package. To see what he does off the field, how he carries himself, how generous he is with his time, with people, it's well-deserved." ... RHP Hector Noesi, shelled for six runs and eight hits in 1 1-3 innings Monday, is back in the bullpen for the rest of the season. RH Blake Beavan will fill his spot in the rotation, starting Saturday. ... Michael Saunders was ejected in the 10th inning for disputing a called third strike.

Mariners catcher John Jaso turned 29 during Tuesday's 18-inning game - Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog)

When Tuesday night’s game started, Mariners catcher John Jaso was 28 years old. By the time the game ended, 18 innings and 5:44 later, he had turned 29.

John Jaso

Happy birthday, John Jaso. (Getty Images)

The Mariners ended up losing 4-2 to the Orioles, in a hard-fought and exhausting battle. And the few-hundred or so fans who stuck around at Safeco Field, as the day turned from Sept. 18 to Sept. 19, got an exciting but ultimately disappointing spectacle.

It really was more like two games. And at 18 innings, it basically was two games. The first half was dominated by young M’s pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, who took a two-hit shutout into the top of the ninth inning. He faced two batters in the ninth but gave up two hits, earning two runs, before being relieved. Tied at 2-2 since the top of the ninth, the second half was a battle of the bullpens â€" neither Seattle’s nor Baltimore’s offense could muster a run, despite several rallies, for nine more innings.

Finally, the Orioles scored off reliever Lucas Luetge â€" the Mariners’ eighth pitcher of the night â€" for two in the top of the 18th. And Seattle couldn’t answer in the bottom frame.

“It is a challenge,” M’s Manager Eric Wedge said after the game. “It’s a scenario they don’t get into too much. But every now and again up here it does happen. And it’s tough on both sides offensively. And everyone wants it so bad. We had so many opportunities. I mean we had so many opportunities â€" one more hit and the game’s over.”

The game tied for the fourth-longest in Mariners franchise history by innings. On June 24, 2004, the Mariners and Rangers took one into the 18th innings in Arlington. Texas ended up winning that one 9-7. By game time, Tuesday’s was the fourth-longest game at 5 hours, 44 minutes.

The longest two games in Mariners history were each suspended after 20 innings. The first spanned Sept. 3 and 4 during the 1981 season; the Mariners beat the Red Sox 8-7 in Boston. The second was played over April 13 and 14, 1982, versus the California Angels; the Mariners lost 4-3. The third-longest by innings was a 5-4 win in 19 frames over Boston at home on Aug. 1, 2000.

Visit seattlepi.com for more Seattle news. Contact Nick Eaton at nickeaton@seattlepi.com or on Twitter as @njeaton.

Orioles rally to tie it in ninth, then outlast Mariners in 18 innings, 4-2 - The Seattle Times

Originally published September 19, 2012 at 1:10 AM | Page modified September 19, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Erasmo Ramirez provided the final start to his season he'd been looking for, just not exactly the perfect ending to this game.

The Mariners discovered firsthand Tuesday night just why the pesky Baltimore Orioles are in a first-place battle in the American League East with two weeks to go.

Down to their final three outs, the Orioles rallied for two runs to tie it off Ramirez in the ninth, then finally scored two more in the 18th inning to hand the Mariners a 4-2 loss Tuesday night at Safeco Field in one of the longest games in their history.

Taylor Teagarten blooped a one-out single to right field off Lucas Luetge in the 18th to score Nate McLouth from second base with the go-ahead run. Another run scored when third baseman Chone Figgins bobbled a ground ball and had to settle for his team getting an out at third rather than throwing home.

Jim Johnson then closed it out for the Orioles, who extended their franchise record with a 14th consecutive extra-innings win. Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter tossed two scoreless frames for the victory.

The five-hour, 44-minute game was the fifth longest by time in Mariners history and tied for their fourth-longest by innings. Luetge was the seventh Seattle relief pitcher to work the game after Ramirez was charged with the two tying runs in the ninth.

The Mariners went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position, a big reason why things were even in extras after Ramirez dominated the Orioles while allowing only two hits through the first eight innings.

Seattle squandered a leadoff double by Kyle Seager in the 17th and a leadoff walk in the 16th by Miguel Olivo â€" his career-high third of the night â€" and failed to score over the game's final 14 frames.

Mariners rookie Ramirez was treated to warm applause by the 12,608 fans as he headed out for the ninth with his pitch count at 95. But leadoff singles by Robert Andino and McLouth put the tying run on base and brought closer Tom Wilhelmsen in to replace Ramirez.

After a bunt moved the runners up, Chris Davis tied it 2-2 with a single under the glove of diving second baseman Dustin Ackley.

Olivo had provided the Mariners with all of their offense back in the fourth inning. After a two-out walk drawn by Casper Wells, Olivo deposited a pitch from Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.

Ramirez is making the most of the limited starting opportunities given him by the Mariners since being called back up from Class AAA this month. Unlike his teammate, Hector Noesi, who was pulled out of the rotation Tuesday after making just one abbreviated start out of a planned two, Ramirez has gone at least seven innings in both his efforts while allowing just two runs each time.

The Mariners do not have any more starts scheduled for Ramirez at this time, though he is expected to see some relief work. If this was his final start, it was an exclamation point on a so-so first big-league season dampened somewhat by an elbow injury mid-summer.

Last week in Toronto, he held the Blue Jays to two runs over seven innings to pick up his first career victory. But he turned things up a notch in this effort, retiring the first nine batters he faced before a leadoff single in the fourth by McLouth.

Ramirez didn't allow another hit after that until a sixth-inning double by McLouth that was almost caught in center by a diving Franklin Gutierrez. At first, Gutierrez appeared to be in pain after jamming his hand into the turf while breaking his fall. Mariners trainers began racing on to the field, but Gutierrez waved them off halfway and remained in the game.

The emergence of Ramirez as a possible rotation candidate for next season is good news for the Mariners. They know they have Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas back for next season, but the status of pending free agents Kevin Millwood and Hisashi Iwakuma is still unclear.

There is a good chance Millwood will retire after the season, while Iwakuma's asking price is somewhat of a mystery and will be based off a half-season of performance. With minor league prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker unlikely to break camp with the big club next spring, there will be a need for additional arms to fill in the rotation gaps.

Current starter Blake Beavan is one of those expected to be in the mix for a starting job. And now, based off the last two performances, Ramirez has to be considered as a potential candidate as well.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @gbakermariners. Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners.

Unsolved homicides - The Seattle Times

Originally published September 18, 2012 at 7:50 PM | Page modified September 18, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Valentina Vega cried when she saw her brother's face on a billboard Tuesday morning near the corner of South Graham Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.

"It's very emotional for us," said Vega, the elder sister of Danny Vega, who was fatally beaten during a robbery in South Seattle in November. His killers have not been caught.

Though she said seeing the billboard "just brought back very sad memories," Valentina Vega and relatives of several other victims of unsolved homicides appealed to the community to call or text tips to help Seattle police arrest suspects.

The Seattle Police Department on Tuesday launched a first-of-its-kind campaign, unveiling billboards and bus ads which each feature the photos and names of three or four of the 18 homicide victims in Seattle since the beginning of 2010 whose slayings remain unsolved.

The billboards and bus ads â€" which are being placed in areas and along bus routes near where victims lived, hung out or died â€" ask "Who Killed Me?" and include an appeal for those with information to break their silence.

"We need closure, our families need closure. It's heart-wrenching to go through this," said Marcia Westbrook, who traveled from New Mexico to attend Tuesday's news conference. Her younger sister, 21-year-old Nicole Westbrook, was randomly gunned down in Pioneer Square in April, three weeks after moving here to attend culinary school.

"We're still hoping and praying someone will speak up," she said.

Marlo Williams broke down when she saw a photo of her son, Desmond Jackson, alongside photos of Vega and Westbrook on a temporary billboard unveiled outside the Filipino Community Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Jackson, 22, was fatally shot outside a Sodo nightclub in February.

"I have an 8-year-old son who walks in fear every day because of his brother's death," Williams said, her voice breaking. "If there's anybody â€" and I mean anybody â€" who has any information to help us solve Desmond's case, please, please come forward."

Dwight Guy, of Kent, didn't take the podium to address members of the media, later explaining that he and his wife always had been "publicity-avoidant people." But since the body of his wife, Greggette Guy, 51, was found in the water off Beach Drive Southwest in West Seattle in March, "it's part of my responsibility to do what I can to catch her murderer," he said.

Wednesday is the couple's 31st wedding anniversary, Guy said, his eyes turning misty. He says he frequently drives his wife's car because he finds it comforting.

The homicide detectives working the case have "been very professional and considerate," but have made it clear that "there's not a lot of evidence and they really need to rely on tips," Guy said.

The Rev. Harriett Walden, director of the Silent War Campaign which seeks to address black-on-black crime and one of three community members on a Police Department committee that planned the campaign, called for "a new agenda, a new normal" that encourages people to come forward with information.

"These billboards will remind our community that someone knows something. It's not OK to be at the grocery store or the bus stop" with a killer, Walden said.

To support the campaign, ClearChannel Outdoor is contributing free billboard space worth about $60,000 while Titan Outdoor, the company behind the ads that will run on Metro buses, donated approximately $11,000 worth of work. In addition, the Seattle Police Department spent $6,700 and the U.S. Department of Justice provided $5,600 for the effort.

Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz noted that detectives on Monday arrested a suspect in the nearly four-year-old killing of Quincy Coleman, a 15-year-old who was fatally shot outside Garfield High School on Halloween night 2008. He credited tips from the community for the arrest and said the case proved that no piece of information is too small in a homicide investigation.

"Somebody knows something," he said. "People are out there who have information, and we're asking you to take that next courageous step ... so justice will prevail."

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Orioles outlast Mariners in 18 innings, 4-2 - The Seattle Times

Originally published September 19, 2012 at 1:10 AM | Page modified September 19, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Erasmo Ramirez provided the final start to his season he'd been looking for, just not exactly the perfect ending to this game.

The Mariners discovered firsthand Tuesday night just why the pesky Baltimore Orioles are in a first-place battle in the American League East with two weeks to go.

Down to their final three outs, the Orioles rallied for two runs to tie it off Ramirez in the ninth, then finally scored two more in the 18th inning to hand the Mariners a 4-2 loss Tuesday night at Safeco Field in one of the longest games in their history.

Taylor Teagarten blooped a one-out single to right field off Lucas Luetge in the 18th to score Nate McLouth from second base with the go-ahead run. Another run scored when third baseman Chone Figgins bobbled a ground ball and had to settle for his team getting an out at third rather than throwing home.

Jim Johnson then closed it out for the Orioles, who extended their franchise record with a 14th consecutive extra-innings win. Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter tossed two scoreless frames for the victory.

The five-hour, 44-minute game was the fifth longest by time in Mariners history and tied for their fourth-longest by innings. Luetge was the seventh Seattle relief pitcher to work the game after Ramirez was charged with the two tying runs in the ninth.

The Mariners went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position, a big reason why things were even in extras after Ramirez dominated the Orioles while allowing only two hits through the first eight innings.

Seattle squandered a leadoff double by Kyle Seager in the 17th and a leadoff walk in the 16th by Miguel Olivo â€" his career-high third of the night â€" and failed to score over the game's final 14 frames.

Mariners rookie Ramirez was treated to warm applause by the 12,608 fans as he headed out for the ninth with his pitch count at 95. But leadoff singles by Robert Andino and McLouth put the tying run on base and brought closer Tom Wilhelmsen in to replace Ramirez.

After a bunt moved the runners up, Chris Davis tied it 2-2 with a single under the glove of diving second baseman Dustin Ackley.

Olivo had provided the Mariners with all of their offense back in the fourth inning. After a two-out walk drawn by Casper Wells, Olivo deposited a pitch from Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.

Ramirez is making the most of the limited starting opportunities given him by the Mariners since being called back up from Class AAA this month. Unlike his teammate, Hector Noesi, who was pulled out of the rotation Tuesday after making just one abbreviated start out of a planned two, Ramirez has gone at least seven innings in both his efforts while allowing just two runs each time.

The Mariners do not have any more starts scheduled for Ramirez at this time, though he is expected to see some relief work. If this was his final start, it was an exclamation point on a so-so first big-league season dampened somewhat by an elbow injury mid-summer.

Last week in Toronto, he held the Blue Jays to two runs over seven innings to pick up his first career victory. But he turned things up a notch in this effort, retiring the first nine batters he faced before a leadoff single in the fourth by McLouth.

Ramirez didn't allow another hit after that until a sixth-inning double by McLouth that was almost caught in center by a diving Franklin Gutierrez. At first, Gutierrez appeared to be in pain after jamming his hand into the turf while breaking his fall. Mariners trainers began racing on to the field, but Gutierrez waved them off halfway and remained in the game.

The emergence of Ramirez as a possible rotation candidate for next season is good news for the Mariners. They know they have Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas back for next season, but the status of pending free agents Kevin Millwood and Hisashi Iwakuma is still unclear.

There is a good chance Millwood will retire after the season, while Iwakuma's asking price is somewhat of a mystery and will be based off a half-season of performance. With minor league prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker unlikely to break camp with the big club next spring, there will be a need for additional arms to fill in the rotation gaps.

Current starter Blake Beavan is one of those expected to be in the mix for a starting job. And now, based off the last two performances, Ramirez has to be considered as a potential candidate as well.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @gbakermariners. Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners.