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Strange baseballs take down the Mariners?

By Shannon Drayer

It was not a good night for the Mariners pitchers, who gave up six runs to Oakland’s hitters in a 6-2 loss Tuesday.

Joe Saunders never looked comfortable, calling Jesus Montero to the mound twice and throwing back multiple baseballs to the umpire. When Charlie Furbush hit Josh Reddick and then threw a ball over the head of Brandon Moss, it seemed clear that he was having trouble getting a good grip.

Joe Saunders allowed four earned runs on seven hits and lasted only four innings in his Mariners debut. (AP)

I asked Eric Wedge about this after the game.

“He was having trouble, a hard time with the baseball, and Joe was, too,” Wedge said. “That was part of the trouble.”

Wedge wasn’t looking to make an excuse for his pitchers, rather just pointing out what the situation was. Minutes later in the clubhouse, Saunders tried to explain what he was encountering with the baseballs.

“I felt like the balls had some funny stuff on them,” he said. “But not to make excuses, you have got to make adjustments. It felt like some of them were taking off. I felt my command was actually there but it was tough to grip the ball.”

He said he had encountered a similar problem once before in Colorado.

When asked to describe what the trouble with the baseballs was, Kameron Loe said that they felt powdery, as if they had too much resin on them. He also said that they had nothing to do with the home runs he gave up.

Obviously both teams had to deal with this and Tommy Milone didn’t appear to have similar troubles. Maybe he figured something out or made the adjustments Saunders was talking about. Hopefully Brandon Maurer will not have to deal with the same thing in his Major League debut.

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