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May 23, 2009 at 12:15 AM

Mariners-Giants wrapup

Those who stuck around left with little to complain about other than a wish that Ken Griffey Jr.’s drive in the ninth had gone out.
But ultimately, the Mariners got the win and the fans also got to give what could well be a last goodbye to one of the franchise’s all-time greats, Randy Johnson.
A loud ovation for Johnson as he left the mound in the sixth inning compelled Johnson to pause and tip his cap, ratcheting up the volume even more.
Johnson said he hopes it’s not necessarily a final goodbye, but that if it was, he wanted to do it right.
“There could be a good chance that might be the last time,” he said. “You never know. I won’t close the door or anything. But it was just nice on their part and I wanted to express my thank you towards them by tipping my hat. It’s been a lot of fun over the years having the opportunity to come back here and pitch and I am obviously very grateful for the opportunity and the years that I had here.”
It wasn’t enough, however, to make Johnson say he wants to go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner. Asked a question on that topic afterward he essentially ignored it saying he’s not thinking about that now.
And while in good spirits, he lamented that having lost a few miles off his fast ball means he has to use his slider more. He felt the Mariners finally figured out his slider a bit, leading to the uprising in the sixth inning that chased him from the game after 115 pitches.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted he left Johnson in as long as he did because he was trying to get him a win as the pitcher seeks to get to the magical 300 — he remains stuck at 298.
“And he was throwing well,” Bochy said.
But so were the Mariners, especially starter Jason Vargas (seven innings, two hits, one run) as Seattle allowed just three hits and only four base runners, outhitting the Giants 11-3 and outwalking them 7-1. Eventually, the law of averages seemed to simply swing the game Seattle’s way as the Mariners offense at least put pressure on the Giants all night, even if many innings ended in futility. The Giants were so disheartened afterward they held a team meeting, Bochy saying the team needs something good to happen to get back on track after losing eight of nine.
The Mariners, meanwhile, are now 4-4 on this 10-game homestand with a chance now to turn it into a winning venture.
Said manager Don Wakamatsu: “I guess if you’re going to play 12, you might as well stick around and win it. I can’t say enough about the pitching, it was outstanding. Vargas looked great, mixed his pitches, battled, had great tempo out there. Then we had a real long inning, and a real credit to him, he came out and gave us one more. Then five innings out of the bullpen, one hit, I can’t say enough about these guys. It’s awfully tough the last stretch we’ve gone through offensively, the strain we’ve put on this bullpen, but they just keep responding, so my hat’s off to those guys.”
Vargas’ performance, in fact, might be the most significant long-term development from this game for the Mariners as he has turned in three straight solid starts, leading Wakamatsu to begin to consider him a regular member of the rotation.
“Yeah, we haven’t really thought about taking him out yet,” Wakamatsu said. “He started in Texas, and that was such a challenge to pitch in that ballpark, he pitched well in Boston, and now to throw a gem tonight, those are things we talked about with some of the young pitching to see what we’ve got, and obviously we’re really excited about it.”
Vargas made only one mistake, the leadoff HR to Aaron Rowand, which he said was on a fastball away that apparently wasn’t away enough.
Vargas admitted it was special to be opposite Johnson on the mound.
“With what he has at stake out there, every outing he’s probably going to be pretty dialed in, so I was just trying to keep our team in the ballgame and keep executing and trying to stay out there as long as I could,” Vargas said. “What he means to the city of Seattle and all that he’s done here and all that he’s done for the game, it’s a pretty special thing, especially because it might be the last time he walks off the field in this city, so whenever you get a chance to be a part of something like that it’s pretty special.”



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