Batista, bats suffer at hands of A's

Batista, bats suffer at hands of A's

SEATTLE -- Miguel Batista was hit hard by the A's on Wednesday night in a 9-0 loss in his mound debut for the Mariners. But he took the loss even harder.

His frustration was as much for subpar performance as it was for letting down his new teammates.

"I was disappointed in the fact that I didn't pitch good tonight because, as you can see, these guys are determined to win here," said Batista, who allowed 10 hits and eight runs in just 4 2/3 innings.

"Taking the first two games against this team was very important to them. We're going to play in the [American League West] division a lot and are very excited about the team we have. We were all expecting to sweep them, but it didn't happen that way."

The 36-year-old right-hander, who signed a free-agent deal in the offseason came apart in the A's five-run second inning. He committed a series of pitching sins that included a balk, a walk, a hit batter and a few too many untimely hits.

With runners on first and third and no outs, he forced in a run with a balk -- his first of two balks. Then after he hit Bobby Crosby and walked Travis Buck, Mark Ellis ripped a three-run double to left-center. Milton Bradley later finished the five-run rally with a two-out RBI single to center.

Ellis matched his career high with five RBIs and also had a two-run double in the fifth on the last of Batista's 94 pitches. The last time he allowed eight runs was Aug. 8, 2004, against the Yankees. It's the first time he had two balks in a game in his career, although he thought he hadn't thrown a balk in 19 years. But a check of the records showed he balked on July 30.

"There is no excuse to look for," he said. "I missed location a couple of times. I left the ball over the plate a couple times. I walked a couple guys. All that came back to haunt me.

"It's a part of this game that we are supposed to fix. You noticed that the guy on the other side didn't have that problem."

The "guy on the other side" was Mariners killer Rich Harden. The A's right-hander also threw 94 pitches, but he was quite a bit more efficient. He worked seven innings, allowing three singles while striking out seven.

"He looked a lot like Felix [Hernandez] did on the first day, a hard-thrower with a very good splitter he had working today," designated hitter Jose Vidro said of Harden. "I think very few of us had a good idea the way he was pitching out there."

Harden is now 5-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 10 career appearances against Seattle. He is 5-0 with a 0.86 ERA at Safeco Field.

"He threw a lot of high fastballs, 98, 99 [mph]," said second baseman Jose Lopez. "Everyone's swinging at fastballs high."

First-year A's manager Bob Geren, with his first big-league win, added that when Harden is throwing strikes at the top of the zone, "as a hitter, that's difficult to lay off. And when you're throwing 95-plus, it's very difficult to hit."

Manager Mike Hargrove said that, unlike Harden, Batista can't live up in the zone.

"His ball was up a lot," Hargrove said, "which he didn't do a lot in Spring Training. When he was down, he was good. When he got the ball up, he got hit.

"The first night they got to see Felix, and tonight we got to see Harden. He pitched awfully, awfully well."

The Mariners, who won the first two games of the season for the first time since 1996, had hoped for an opening three-game sweep for the first time since 1995.

In the big picture, Hargrove was not disappointed in taking two of three from the A's, last season's AL West champion. A year ago, the A's won 17 of 19 games against Seattle.

"It tells us we can compete in our division, which we thought we could coming in," he added. "We're not trying to make statements. We not trying to do anything other than try to win every game we play. We feel good about our ballclub. The players feel good about themselves. We have a chance to have a fun season for all of us."

The Mariners will be off Thursday before beginning a seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Boston. Batista is scheduled to pitch the first game on Tuesday in Boston. This one, he said, is over and forgotten.

"Greg Maddux told me once, 'What makes a good pitcher a great pitcher is a short memory,'" Batista said.

Bob Sherwin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.