Three’s enough for Mariners, but oh that “O”

It’s one week before the regular season opener in Oakland and if you’re wondering when and where the Mariners offense will come to life, get in line.

“Obviously, we are concerned, but you don’t really know until the lights go on,” manager Don Wakamatsu said this afternoon after solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings by Josh Bard and Franklin Gutierrez gave Seattle a 3-2 Cactus League victory over the Athletics. “There is a lot of talent there (on offense) and once we get them together we’ll see. If it continues, yeah you are concerned about it, but right now I don’t give a lot of stock to it.”

Standing out in today’s game was having a bases-loaded, no-out jam dissipate with nothing to show for it. Ken Griffey Jr., popped out and Jose Lopez bounced into a double play. That’s two consecutive games the Mariners have loaded the bases with none out, and not scored.

After 27 Cactus League games, the Mariners are batting .254 as a team and have scored 116 runs. That’s more than the Yankees ((95 in 23 games) and Orioles (93 in 24 games).

Only Baltimore has a lower batting average, .249.

Hmmmmmmm.

Bard, who probably will not be on the 25-man Opening Day roster, hit a massive solo home run over the left field fence and halfway up a small hill beyond the fence for his first home run of the spring. An inning later, Gutierrez, batting third, hit his third — a ball that just made it over the extended glove of center fielder Eric Patterson.

“Bard got player of the game for me,” Wakamatsu said. “The home run and then he blocked a ball (in the ninth) and threw the guy out.”

Right-handed reliever Kanekoa Texeira continued to impress, tossing two scoreless innings to pick up the win and reduce his spring ERA to 0.64.

Can you say “keeper”? The Rule 5 Draft pick from the Yankees has done everything he can to stick in Seattle.

Left-handed starter Jason Vargas worked the first five innings, yielding four hits, two runs and four walks.

“Vargas did OK,” Wak said. “I didn’t think he was as sharp as the last one, but we got him up to 83 pitches. The concern was the four walks with two outs, but still giving up two runs and four hits, he was on the way to a quality start if we had left him in there.”

Relievers Brandon League and Sean White each pitched one scoreless inning.

League did, however, mishandle a throw from first baseman Casey Kotchman — a play that is practiced day after day during PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice).

The Mariners are off tomorrow and then begin a stretch of playing 15 games on 15 days in five cities.

— Jim Street

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