The Seattle Mariners beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 tonight behind the pitching of Felix Hernandez who went all the way, and home runs from Ichiro and Michael Saunders. The surprising Reds who have been at or near the top of the NL central all year were held to 5 hits and struck-out 9 times tonight as they slipped to 1 ½ games out of first. For the Mariners it was their third win in a row and the first time all month they have scored more than four runs in a game. Tonight was singles night at Safeco and the crowd became more festive as the night wore on. It has been awhile since the Mariners faithful have given themselves permission to let go and have some fun, like the young fans in the photo that went wild when Ichiro hit a solo-shot in the bottom of third.
Meanwhile Felix Hernandez for the second outing in a row showed the swagger that he displayed last year allowing the Mariners offense time to come to life. The Reds starter Sam LeCure dropped to 1-4 though he pitched well outside of the long-ball that Ichiro hit in the third, until the Mariners came to life in the sixth inning. Jose Lopez opened up the bottom of the 6th with a single to center followed by a double off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez to give the Mariner runners at second and third with no outs, and the game knotted at 1-1. For a minute it looked like once again the M’s were going to come up empty-handed as Josh “Paper boy” Wilson failed to deliver and instead lined out to first. Casey Kotchman was then intentionally walked as the Reds tried to get out of the inning with a double play. Rob Johnson was able to put the Mariners up by a run with a sacrifice fly to center, and you could sense the relief in the crowd after so many disappointing bases loaded situations this year.
With two runners aboard the tall lanky kid from Canada with two down and two men aboard, proceeded to slam a three-run homer to right which sent the fans into a frenzy as finally someone had delivered a clutch home run. Felix Hernandez went into overdrive after being given a 4-run lead and for the second night in a row the Mariners starter went the distance. Chone Figgins also had a big night and went 3-4 hitting the ball hard as well as covering a lot of ground at second.
In addition to the young Michael Saunderish looking guys with Ichiro spelt on their chests I saw a group of older Japanese fans out in right field who were whooping it up tonight as well. A couple of the older Japanese gentlemen came over at one point in the game to shake hands and take photos of the “Ichiro Boys”. It was fun out in the right-field corner tonight on singles night. I didn’t meet the woman of my dreams but I had fun and even felt that elusive home-town pride in our ballclub. Jack Z. stated he was not going to make any decisions on trades till after the games with the Cubs and Reds. So for one more night the flickering flame of hope is still alive, and if we can keep rolling we may not need to replace that flame with a fire-sale next month.http://jeffsmariners.com