The Mariners avoided a sweep by the visiting Chicago White Sox winning this one 2-1 thanks to a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the 11th by Franklin Gutierrez. Felix Hernandez pitched 8 strong innings of 2-hit shutout ball before reluctantly handing the ball off to David Aardsma in the 9th. The Mariners needed this one bad and it was nice to see the smiles on the faces of the hometown boys as they celebrated their third victory in extra-inning affairs in this dreary campaign.
The Mariners who had not scored a single run since the first inning of the Monday opener executed brilliantly in the 11th inning rally. Of course keeping with their running theme of making dumb base running mistakes, Jose Lopez got doubled-up off first in the bottom of the 9th in a play that looked like Little League. In this case Milton Bradley in to pinch-hit for Kotchman dropped a little liner into right that Andruw Jones made a diving play on. The winning run was on second and instead of going halfway with his eye on the ball, Lopez turned his back on the ball and ran to second only to allow Jones to lob the ball after he caught it to get the absent-minded Lopez. Dave Niehaus went ballistic on the radio over this one, as once again this was clearly a mental error attributed to a lack of focus.
It looked like this game was over in the top half of the 11th when 43 year-old Omar Vizquel lined a single to right off Brandon League scoring the go-ahead run from third. But alas after going 27 innings without scoring, the Mariners pulled-off a sweet victory in the bottom of the frame. The inning started-off with Jack Wilson beating out a perfect bunt down the line and moved to second on another bunt by Ichiro. Figgins moved Wilson to third with a sharply hit single to center which Wilson watched closely before advancing to third when the ball landed. Figgins then stole second and showed us a flash of the Chone Figgins we have been waiting for all season long. With two strikes on him Franklin Gutierrez then delivered in the clutch hitting a laser shot into the gap in left center scoring the speedy Figgins to end the game and the scoring famine.
This was a fun and interesting game outside of the Lopez goof and the 21,529 fans that were at the game celebrated along with the players as if we had just won the pennant! Now the Red Sox come in for a four-game series. The Red Sox suddenly find themselves in a bit of a jam as they are 7 games back in the AL East due to injuries and some tough losses like today’s against the A’s. The good news is the Mariners have a chance to play spoiler with clubs like the Red Sox, and the bad news is there will be 10,000 rabid Red Sox fans attempting to drown out the mellow Seattle fans for the next four games. East Coast transplants complain all the time about our weather, passive-aggressive behavior and lack of culture here in Seattle. Of course when I hear one complain I usually offer to buy them a one-way ticket home on the spot and that usually shuts them up. If the Mariners could come-away with a split of this series I would be elated, so how about joining me down at the Safe this weekend as we show some pride in our city and club. http://jeffsmariners.com