Felix Hernandez finally got some offensive support, after spending the last 14 innings on the mound with just one run scored by his Mariners. Don’t forget, he lasted seven scoreless innings in that game versus the White Sox six days ago that wound up a 1-0 win by Seattle in 14.
Now, he’s got three runs and a 3-1 lead as we head to the bottom of the eighth. Hernandez is at 106 pitches, and looked strong as he finsihed the last inning. But the Mariners are taking no chances and now have Mark Lowe in to start the eighth.
Russell Branyan and Ken Griffey Jr. delivered the needed sacrifice flies in that eighth but it again was Josh Wilson keying the rally with a leadoff single that chased reliever Ryan Perry from the game. Remember, Perry had just struck out the side the previous inning.
Ichiro came through with a double after that, off Bobby Seay, putting runners at second and third with nobody out and the M’s got both runners home.
5:25 p.m.: We’re already through five innings and the Mariners just tied it up 1-1 in the sixth on a home run by Josh Wilson — yes, that’s two in less than a week. The blast came on an 0-2 pitch at that. Remember, the homer last week off C.C. Sabathia was on a 1-2 offering. It’s like Wilson lulls these guys into a false sense of security, then pounces.
Prior to that, the offense had gone AWOL. Since Ichiro’s leadoff single in the first, the Mariners didn’t have another hit off Rick Porcello until the home run. Porcello started this inning at only 69 pitches. Only reason he’d gone that deep in his pitch count was an error by third baseman Brandon Inge last inning that put Jack Hannahan on with two out. And a 10-pitch strikeout by Ichiro in the fourth.
Between the Ichiro AB and the resulting pitches after the error, that was 15 of the 69 pitches thrown by Porcello.
The Mariners had been making it too easy on Porcello, hitting soft grounders early in counts and striking out every other time. They had seven whiffs through 5 1/3 innings.
Felix Hernandez has economized a bit and is at 79 pitches through five. Looks like he could go seven.
4:39 p.m.: Ryan Langerhans just gave the death stare to that fan who reached out and clearly interfered with a ball in-play as he tried to catch a foul pop up near the stands down the left field line. Somebody should check the pulse of third base umpire Sam Holbrook just to make sure he’s still awake. You could tell from 200 feet away in the pressbox that the ball was in-play. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu went out and argued, but to no avail.
The hitter, Clete Thomas, wound up drawing a walk after that and it came back to haunt Felix Hernandez. With two out and a 1-2 count, Adam Everett singled to center to bring home the run and give Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Hernandez also wound up throwing a bunch of extra pitches in the inning and is now up to 40 through two frames.
4:27 p.m.: We’ll see the Mariners, still shorthanded several regulars, take on Tigers rookie Rick Porcello. The Mariners scored five runs in five innings off Porcello last month, losing 9-7 in a game Garrett Olson got blown out of early. Porcello held the M’s to just one run over seven innings back in April at Safeco Field.
For the M’s, well, they have this Felix Hernandez guy. You may have heard of him.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu was asked pre-game about his decision to keep going with Russell Branyan in the No. 2 spot in the order.
Wakamatsu replied that he liked the idea of getting two quick runs early if Ichiro gets on and Branyan goes deep. He got his wish — partly — in the first inning as Ichiro led off with a single to left. Branyan then delivered the “two” — as in outs, as he bounced into a 6-4-3 double-play. Not the two being looked for.
But Wakamatsu also mentioned the injuries to Adrian Beltre and Jack Wilson and said that he lacks the flexibility in the lineup he had previously when those two were healthy. In other words, once they come back, Branyan might be moved further back in the order. For now, he stays at No. 2.
1B Russell Branyan
2B Jose Lopez
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
CF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Jack Hannahan
C Rob Johnson
LF Ryan Langerhans
SS Josh Wilson
RHP Felix Hernandez
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Placido Polanco
LF Carlos Guillen
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Aubrey Huff
RF Clete Thomas
3B Brandon Inge
C Alex Avila
SS Adam Everett
RHP Rick Porcello