ANAHEIM -- For the second time in just over a week, the Mariners saw an opposing batter issued a walk Sunday despite only having received three balls, but this time it didn't cost Seattle, and manager Eric Wedge insisted he was aware of the situation in this one.
Angels designated hitter Bobby Abreu drew the 1,400th walk of his career in the third inning of the Angels' 4-2 victory, but got a little help from home-plate umpire Gerry Davis. Replays confirmed Abreu only had a 3-1 count when he was awarded first base.
Eight days earlier, Doug Fister suffered a 1-0 loss when the Padres' Cameron Maybin took first on a three-ball walk from home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi and then proceeded to score the game's only run.
Abreu didn't score as a result of the errant walk, which put runners on first and second before Felix Hernandez got out of the jam with a strikeout of Vernon Wells and a flyout by Howard Kendrick.
Wedge said he conferred quickly with pitching coach Carl Willis and bench coach Robby Thompson and figured it was wise to walk Abreu in that hitter's count anyway and let Hernandez deal with Wells and Kendrick.
"Yeah, I was OK with that," Wedge said. "I figured it worked against us last time, let's let it work for us this time. We talked about it real quick and, again, I couldn't believe nobody reacted to it. I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it.
"I was fine him not being up there 3-1. I felt good about Felix facing those next two guys, so I just kind of played it off, talked to Carl and Robby real quick. ... I feel like Abreu is their best hitter. He and Kendrick. But with that matchup there, I felt better with those next two guys.
"I was hoping for a double play, we got strikeout and popup. I mean, hey, if they're going to make that mistake, I figured, what the hell, it worked against us last time, let's make it work for us this time."
Hernandez wasn't aware of any such strategy and seemed chagrined at the mistake.
"I was like, 'Wasn't that 3-1?'" Hernandez said. "It's happened twice ... only to us."
But he, too, was OK with how things turned out.
"Abreu is a great hitter. He's pretty tough," Hernandez said. "I put up a zero that inning, so it didn't matter."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he knew there were only three balls at the time, but "it happens," while Abreu was relishing the free pass.
"It was funny. We'll take it," said Abreu, who is now third among active players with his 1,400 walks. "It's funny how it happened, and it's weird at the same time, because you have the professional umpire behind you, and they know everything."
Mariners set rotation for after the break
ANAHEIM -- Jason Vargas will pitch the Mariners' first game out of the All-Star break on Thursday against the Rangers at Safeco Field, and rookie Blake Beavan will wrap up that series Sunday against his former team, the club announced Sunday.
Doug Fister will pitch Friday, followed by Felix Hernandez on Saturday and then Beavan with his third start in place of injured Erik Bedard.
Manager Eric Wedge said rookie Michael Pineda will be held out until the following series, giving him a 10-day break before he takes the mound in Toronto on Tuesday, July 19, when the Mariners kick off a three-city, nine-day road trip.
Pineda has thrown 113 innings to this point, and is on pace to throw 203 innings for the season, but the Mariners don't want to push the 22-year-old that far. The All-Star break is one of the things they'll take advantage of as they look to give him more rest in the second half.
"We're going to be able to do that," Wedge said. "We've played it out through August. Obviously, it can change at any point in time with Michael or any of the guys, but we feel like we're going to give him enough extra days in the second half to where it's sustainable for him."
Bedard remains a bit of a wild card. The Mariners initially expected him back right after the All-Star break after he went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee, but he threw off flat ground for the first time on Sunday and will need a bullpen session or two before returning to the rotation.
Wedge said the aim now is to get Bedard back for the Boston series on July 22-24. Logically, he would fit in for Beavan on Saturday, July 23, though Wedge didn't want to get that specific.
Pair of Pacific Northwest kids headed to ASG
ANAHEIM -- Two youngsters from the Pacific Northwest are headed to the All-Star Game festivities in Phoenix this week to represent the Mariners in the national finals of the 2011 Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run baseball skills competition.
Bayly Poor of Union, Ore., will compete in the girls 13-14 year-old division, while Emeka Egbuka from DuPont, Wash., will be in the boys 7-8 year-old finals.
Both qualified based on their scores accumulated during the team championships held at Safeco Field on June 18.
The 24 national finalists were announced last week on MLB Tonight on MLB Network. More than 600,000 youths participated in qualifying events across North America.
For a second year, a girls softball division was part of the program, allowing girls to compete and advance separately from boys.
The national finals will take place Monday starting at 9:15 a.m. PT as part of the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day prior to Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game.
Injured closer David Aardsma is doing better and will likely throw another bullpen session or two coming out of the All-Star break, then throw a simulated game before being sent out on a Minor League rehab stint. "We're on the path," said manager Eric Wedge.
Michael Pineda became the first Mariners pitcher to open a game with five consecutive strikeouts when he mowed down a handful of Angels to start Saturday's contest. The Major League record for strikeouts to start a game is eight by Jim Deshaies of the Astros in a 1986 game against the Dodgers.
Ichiro's two hits on Saturday gave him 101 for the season, the 11th straight year in which he's reached the century mark by the All-Star break. That is the second-longest streak in the Majors since 1954, trailing only the 12 of Pete Rose from 1968-79. After Ichiro's 11, next on the list is Michael Young and Steve Garvey, with six each.
When the Mariners started five rookies on Saturday -- Dustin Ackley, Greg Halman, Carlos Peguero, Michael Pineda and Kyle Seager -- it was the most first-year players used in the same lineup since last Oct. 2 (David Pauley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore, Justin Smoak, Matt Mangini and Halman).
The last time the club used as least five rookies in a lineup that wasn't in the September-October expanded roster portion of the season was Aug. 18, 1993 (Rich Amaral, Brian Turang, Greg Prikl, Bret Boone and Bill Haselman). The club record for most rookies in a starting lineup is seven, which was done twice in '83.
Seattle's current 25-man roster has the fourth-lowest average age in the American League and seventh-lowest in the Major League at 28.83. The Royals have the lowest average age at 27.06, while the Yankees are the highest at 30.97.