UPDATE: The Angels pulled out a 10-inning, 1-0 win over Oakland, so the Mariners remain four games back.
Check out this post to read about Ichiro’s catch.
Here’s some of Don Wakamatsu’s post-game comments:
“First off, to lose the first game here and come back and win three straight. I don’t care who it’s against or where, it shows again the character of the ballclub and the fight in it.
“ (Erik) Bedard, 92 pitches in 4 2/3, it shows he’s still getting a feel for his command and getting more efficient. A tough thing about a strikeout pitcher is you’re going to get high pitch counts. The unfortunate thing is you have to go a little deeper in ballgames.
“The bullpen is the story, again. (Miguel) Batista did a nice job. Got himself in trouble, got out of it, got the quick out with Bedard in the fifth. But there’s some good signs in the bullpen. I thought (Shawn) Kelley looked as good as he has in a long time. His velocity got up there, he threw some nice sliders, looked real good. (Mark) Lowe continues to look good, and (David) Aardsma, to do what he’s done, is awfully special.
“Offensively, we talked about Russell wanting to play today, and the first at-bat he hits the two-run home run. I’m awfully happy for him. It’s what we need going forward to get him back on track and feeling good about himself.
“Similar to yesterday, the little things in this game show up for me — the sac bunt by (Ryan) Langerhans, the sac fly by (Jack) Hannahan. A couple real nice defensive plays. Langerhans had one in left, and the one to end thegame by Ichiro was outstanding.
“I didnt’ look. You look at the reaction of the hitter, and I think he thought he got it. I actually didn’t see the catch. You always feel comfortable with him in right field that he’s going to make a great catch or climb the wall. It was awfully nice he came up with.”
(On Jose Lopez, who got hit in the ribs by a Kerry Wood heater): He’s fine. I think it just stung. I don’t think he squared it up. He got pretty beat up this series. It will be nice for a day off for him.”
(On Lopez’s error that allowed the tying run to score in the fifth): “It was not that easy. That ball had a lot of spin on it. I’m not trying to make an excuse for him, but that ball kicked back the other way. I think he anticipated it just hopping up to him.”
“You look at today’s game, there’s signs in there we have to eliminate, and that’s the walks. Yesterday, I don’t think we had a walk, and today we had six.”
Here’s what Branyan said about starting today despite his sore back this series:
“It’s something where I have enough history with my back, I know when I can push it and when I need to rest it. I don’t recall injuring it on any certain play or anything like that. I think it’s strictly, as crazy as it sounds, the three day’s off we had over the All-Star break and coming back. I needed to play through it. It’s been pretty painful these four days or so. I think it’s progressing, and I need to get out there and move around and play.
(On this recent offensive struggles): “This is the first time I’ve played every day in a long time. From a critic on the outside looking in, you can point your finger at a lot of different things — not taking my walks, things of that nature. It’s a long season.
“We’re going to go in cycles, we’re going to have our ups and downs. I’m not putting too much emphasis on it. I can start a hot streak tomorrow and be back up to .300 in less than a week. I’m just fortunate to be given an opportunity to play, and I’m happy the way I’ve been playing, and glad to be given a chance to come back and play.
(On starting when Wakamatsu planned to give him the day off): “We talked yesterday, and he asked me to tell him how it felt today. He was kind of set on giving me a day off. Ultimately, it was his decision. If he wanted to sit me today, I wouldn’t have been upset. I enjoy playing. I spent a lot of my career on the bench. For me, it wasn’t a fun place to be.
(After he hit the home run), “He said I had him to thank for that.”
(On winning three straight): “I wish we could win them all, but we feel pretty confident about our ballclub. We’re going to hit our speed bumps and get slowed down here and there. It’s a matter of how we bounce back. We played a tough game, didn’t play well that first game, but we were able to bounce back and win three in a row.”
Mariners’ PR man Jeff Evans worked overtime today providing some good notes. Such as:
Today marks Ichiro’s 13th game with three or more hits. He has 193 career games with 3+ hits in 9 seasons since his debut in 2001, 52 more than any other player over that span (Derek Jeter is next with 141)…the last player with that many 3-hit games over a 9-year span was Wade Boggs (193 from 1983-91).
* Ichiro also stole his 20th base in the 9th inning, his 9th consecutive 20+ steal season…becomes just the 9th player in baseball history (since 1901) to record at least 20 steals in each of the first 9 seasons of a career (first since Chuck Knoblauch):
Ichiro Suzuki 2001 2009
Chuck Knoblauch 1991 1999
Delino DeShields 1990 1998
Vince Coleman 1985 1993
Rickey Henderson 1979 1987
Ozzie Smith 1978 1986
Ron LeFlore 1974 1982
Luis Aparicio 1956 1964
Joe Tinker 1902 1910
* Ichiro recorded his 42nd multi-hit game…Robinson Cano has 2nd-most in AL with 36 (entering today).
* Ronny Cedeno extended his hitting streak to 7 games…it is the 3rd-longest streak of his career and longest since a career-high 13-game streak Sept. 5-19, 2006 (with Chicago Cubs).
* Russell Branyan snapped a 4-game homerless streak (20 PA) with his first-inning home run (23rd of the season)…one off career-high 24 homers set during 2002 season (with Cleveland/Cincinnati).
* Ichiro singled in the first inning to extend his streak of not going hitless in consecutive games since Aug. 13-15, 2008 (span of 125 games)…has not gone hitless in consecutive calendar days since July 20-21, 2008 (vs. CLE/BOS).
* Franklin Gutierrez has now recorded at least one hit in 25 of his last 27 games…also extended hitting streak to 5 games.
* Jose Lopez extended his hitting streak to 7 games.
* Rob Johnson extended his hitting streak to a career-high 6 games.