Felix Hernandez (May 5, 2012)
Two days ago, Seattle Manager Eric Wedge sat Chone Figgins and sent a message to his team.
Yesterday, the Mariners' lineup responded.
However, the first five innings of their Saturday matchup with the Minnesota Twins seemed like business as usual.
Through the first three innings the M's lineup could only manage one hit, an infield single from designated hitter John Jaso. They totaled just two hits through five innings.
The tide turned in the Mariners' half of the sixth.
Dustin Ackley singled and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Brendan Ryan. Ichiro walked. Both moved up on an infield ground out from Jesus Montero and then scored on a single from Kyle Seager.
The momentum was carried into the seventh.
Mike Carp walked to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a bunt single by Michael Saunders. The Twins' Matt Maloney walked Ackley to load the bases and Ryan hit a sacrifice fly to score Carp.
The floodgates opened on a triple to right-center by Ichiro that scored Saunders and Ackley. This was followed by a two-run HR from Seager, his fourth of the year.
Seager has knocked in nine runs over the past four games and now leads the club with 16 RBI.
For his part, Seattle's Felix Hernandez was his usual dominant self. He pitched 8.0 innings and gave up no runs on one hit while striking out nine.
Plagued by a lack of run support in previous starts, Hernandez took advantage of the deluge to improve his record to 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA.
"Any time you've got Felix on the mound, you feel like you've got a good opportunity," Seager said in an interview with The Seattle Times. "Our pitching has been great as of late, for sure. We've just got to score more runs. Today, fortunately, we were able to get a few across for him."
Hernandez was relieved by Steve Delabar, who pitched a perfect ninth. For the third time in Mariners history, multiple pitchers teamed up to pitch a one-hitter.
This was just one game. However, hope springs eternal in the heart of an M's fan. A hope that these youngsters will find themselves in a groove.
Erasmo Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to beef up for a possible spot in the M's starting rotation. Seattle called up Shawn Kelly to replace him.
Brendan Ryan's struggles at the plate in 2012 have been well documented. However, he was able to contribute on Saturday. Ryan laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved a runner into scoring position in the sixth. He later knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.