Now that’s the Mariners bullpen we’ve come to know this season. The relievers did a fantastic job tonight once Ian Snell bowed out after 5 2/3 inning of one-run ball. First, it was Sean White getting the team through the seventh, then Mark Lowe working a 1-2-3 eighth. Quite the rebound for Lowe, who got snacked around in a similar situation in last night’s eighth inning.
Lowe got a soft chopper from Curtis Granderson, then struck out Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen before turning things over to David Aardsma (photo above) in the ninth. Aardsma allowed a bloop single, but struck out the final two hitters to preserve a 3-1 win by the Mariners.
As we mentioned earlier, Snell did a good job of economizing and pitching-to-contact after it looked like he-d be in early pitch count trouble once again — he was at 30 after an inning-plus.
Pitching-to-contact doesn’t mean throwing the ball over the plate and letting teams whack it. It means getting soft contact by hitting the right spots and keeping hitters off-balance through the changing of speeds.
Snell did that for the most part. He’d probably have gotten through six full innings if Russell Branyan holds on to that throw on what should have been the back-end of a double-play in the fourth. Instead, Snell had to throw a handful of extra pitches and maybe he’d have gotten to face another batter later on if he hadn’t stayed out there longer than he needed to in the fourth.
Not a banner night for Branyan, who struck out four times.
In fact, Tigers starter Justin Verlander dominated the Mariners, striking out 10 batters over eight innings.
Verlander’s only mistakes came on a two-pitch sequence to Josh Wilson — who notched a bloop single — and then a two-run homer by Ichiro. Other than that, he’d have had a win tonight.
But he didn’t get it. The Mariners and Snell did.
That’s baseball for you.