Cliff Lee pitched a complete game shut-out over the visiting Cincinnati Reds by a score of 1-0 in front of 43,362 Mariners Fans. Lee squared off against Johnny Quento in a classic pitcher’s duel that the crafty veteran Lee prevailed in. The Reds came into tonight’s game a half game up in the NL Central thanks to a potent offense featuring four hitters batting over .300. However Cliff Lee failed to walk a single batter and struck-out 7 Reds using his aggressive style and pin-point accuracy. After tonight’s performance the Mariners may have to figure out a way to come-up with whatever it takes to entice Lee into signing an extension. If not it may be worthwhile to hang on to him for the rest of the season just to give the fans a reason to come-out to the Ballpark.
The Reds did threaten in the first with runners on second and third after a 2-out double by the veteran Scott Rolen before Lee got out of the inning with a ground-ball to third. The Mariners managed to load the bases in the second following the first of two doubles by Jose Lopez and a couple of walks. Unfortunately Michael Saunders was not able to produce, leaving the bases loaded after a pop-up. The Mariners were stifled at the plate along with the Reds up until the sixth inning when Jose Lopez got hit by a pitch with 2-outs. Franklin Gutierrez who was moved down in the order tonight into the fifth spot, then blooped a single to center setting the stage for Josh Wilson. The Paper boy delivered with a single up the middle which drove home a hustling Lopez who narrowly avoided the tag with a great slide.
The Reds manager Dusty Baker pulled Queto after Wilson’s single and the M’s skipper Don Wakamatsu countered by bringing in Mike Sweeney off the bench to pinch-hit for the struggling Mike Carp. It was nice to Sweeney back with the club even though he was not able to drive-in the runners on base and instead struck-out against Reds reliever Daniel Herrera on a wicked curve that broke 18 inches. The Mariners got a break in the eighth when Reds left fielder Johnny Gomes lost a ball in the twilight allowing Jose Lopez to land at second with two outs. Unfortunately Gutierrez went down swinging and was unable to provide the Mariners with an insurance run off of ex-Mariner Arthur Rhodes who at age 40 can still get it done.
This was a nice game to watch for the fans many of which may have come to the game for an Ichiro-Griffey bobble-head doll but instead were treated to a pitching gem starring Cliff Lee. Perhaps the thing that sticks in my mind most from Lee’s pitching performance was watching him sprint to the mound in the 8th and 9th innings. Cliff Lee just keeps getting better this year and tonight he surely turned up the dial on any trade rumors floating around baseball. Tomorrow our other newly rebounding Ace Felix Hernandez will be on the mound trying to keep the flickering flame of hope alive for the Mariners in 2010. http://jeffsmariners.com