Luke French pitched a great game today for the Mariners, holding the visiting Minnesota Twins to one run on three hits as he picked-up his third win on the season in the 2-1 affair. French, who came over last year from Detroit in the Jarrod Washburn deal, is making a case to be included in the 2011 rotation and today’s performance by the young southpaw helped make his case a little stronger.
French was matched up against veteran Carl Pavano who also went seven innings today but like French could not keep putting up goose-eggs on the scoreboard all day and eventually surrendered a pair of runs in the 7th inning.
The Twins only run came on a mammoth home run by Michael Cuddyer in the top of the 7th. Cuddyer is filling in at first for the injured Twins star Justin Morneau, and his blast initially looked like it would be all the first place Twins would need in this one.
Fortunately for the hometown boys they managed to respond immediately in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run rally of their own. Jose Lopez got on base with a 1-out single followed by another base hit by Casey Kotchman. The Mariners runners were able to move-up 90 feet on a wild-pitch by Pavano setting the stage for Franklin Gutierrez to line a shot to left that scored Lopez to tie the game. Adam Moore then tapped a weak grounder to short which would have turned into an inning ending double-play were it not for the great slide at second by Gutierrez to keep the inning alive and allow Kotchman to score the go-ahead run.
The Mariners suddenly reliable bullpen combo of Brandon League and David Aardsma came on to pitch the final two frames without relinquishing a run to the first-place Twins and thus helped the Mariners avoid the sweep.
I was amazed to hear that even this late in the season 28,923 fans paid to see this game. This franchise has been kept afloat by the polite, family friendly sort of fans who were at the park today. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but just have to wonder how many of those fans besides the Twins faithful really cared about the outcome. Oh well perhaps our absentee-owner will be willing to spend another 10-15 million next year to bolster our worst in the AL offense so that the rest of us grumpy hardcore fans will buy the extra 20,000 seats in order to fill the stadium on a day like today.
August is shaping up as a decent month for our club as we hover around .500 with the Angels coming to town to finish out August, followed by a 4-game series with the Indians.
Interesting to note that Michael Pineda will not pitch any more this year as the Mariners are doing the right thing by saving the young flame-thrower’s arm for next year. Still hoping to see Dustin Ackley up with the big club perhaps against the Indians over the weekend. Feels good to be back reporting on our sailors as we head to the final leg of the 2010 voyage! http://jeffsmariners.com