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Sunday’s 15-inning thriller was one of those games where, if this Mariners team winds up doing something this year, folks will turn around and go: “That was the turning point!”
There will be other such statement games, of course. Point is, the fact we’re even talking about it now is good news. The Mariners are now 15-10 instead of 14-11. They just took their second series from the Oakland Athletics, rather than losing two series in a row for the first time this season. They won a game in which they trailed throughout regulation, then by three runs in the 13th inning. If that’s not a statement, I don’t know what is. The M’s relied on just about everybody in their lineup to come through. From Kenji Johjima hitting that huge home run, to Ichiro notching the tying single in the 13th, to Yuniesky Betancourt laying down another game-changing bunt.
As for the bullpen, everyone came through, including Miguel Batista, despite allowing the three runs. He did, after all, last 2 2/3 innings in a pressure situation. And yes, Jason Vargas, of all people comes through when there was no longer any margin for error. That deep bullpen, by the way, is likely what made the difference in the game. It’s why teams carry extra pitchers. The bullpen received quite a bit of work in this series, Jarrod Washburn’s middle game aside. Felix Hernandez will have to try to lighten their workload tonight..
But the M’s pulled it off. They are still in first place in the month of May, Despite some minor health issues, they are taking full advantage of worse off opponents, going 5-1 against the injury-ravaged A’s and 4-2 versus the hurting and depleted Angels. Yes, things are going well. They just won a game begun by their fifth starter, and that’s a bonus whenever it happens. Hernandez and Erik Bedard now start the final two games of this homestand. Yeah, it’s early, but it’s not that early. After this brief, two-game homestand against Texas beginning tonight, the M’s will be one month into their six-month season. And — with the A’s and Angels playing a series beginning tonight — the M’s can put more distance between them and two of their three division opponents with each additional win these next two days.
The Mariners are still in first place. And they made a statement yesterday. They are to be taken seriously in 2009.
Photo Credit: AP
May 4, 2009 at 8:00 AM