*located in a pancreas near you
I’m going to keep it pretty brief tonight because 1) I’ve been here about 12 hours, and 2) I have an early appointment tomorrow.
But what a rousing victory for the Mariners — the best of the year, I’d have to say. The crowd was really into it (although they hit a lull when the Mariners went hitless from the second through sixth, and bumbled the ball around in the second to fall behind 5-1.)
Everything changed when Ken Griffey Jr. hit that homer in the seventh, as he was almost destined to do on Griffey bobblehead night. Ichiro would add a big two-run single to tie the game, and Mark Lowe and David Aardsma pitched overpowering relief, but it all seemed for naught when Jason Bartlett hit that homer in the 11th off Shawn Kelley.
But Franklin Gutierrez, who had struck out four times already in the game, avoided No. 5 by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch from J.P. Howell. Jack Wilson, who booted his first ball as a Mariner at Safeco but made two other great plays in the game, dropped a sacrifice. Rob Johnson flied out before Ryan Langerhans, of all people, launched the game-winning homer — after falling behind 1-2 to Howell.
It was the first game-winning homer of Langerhans’ career, and the first homer by a left-hander Howell has allowed this year.
“It was great,” said Langerhans, who was pummeled by his exultant teammates as he crossed home plate behind Gutierrez. “I’ve gotten to be the one slapping quite a few times, but I’ve never been the one slapped.”
He was also hit with an ice-cream pie when he got to the clubhouse (an innovation on the standard shaving-cream job) and got a beer shower.
“It’s funny — I was trying to do it in the ninth and I struck out,” said Langerhans, who had two game-ending singles with the Braves in 2005. “There, I was just trying to get a hit to keep the game alive. I lucked out and hit one out.”
Howell said he threw seven straight curves in the inning, including five to Langerhans.
“Seven curves in a row, and he got the one that hung,” Howell said. “It’s tough to swallow, but that’s what we’re good at, man. We swallow it and move on,”
Howell hadn’t given up a homer to a lefty since May 27, 2008, when Josh Hamilton of Texas hit a grand slam.
As for Felix Hernandez, whom I vaguely remember pitching tonight in this three hour and 45 minute marathon, manager Don Wakamatsu said he actually had tremendous stuff, with such great movement it was hard for Rob Johnson
to catch (hence, the two passed balls). Wakamatsu felt the defense let down Hernandez, making him work a little too hard.
But there was not much for the Mariners to complain about tonight. This is one for them to savor. And this post wasn’t so brief, after all.
(Associated Press photo)