*Still located in a pancreas near you
I used that headline, more or less, when Ryan Langerhans hit a game-ender against Tampa Bay in the 11th inning on Aug. 7, and I’m never one to shy away from beating a good joke into the ground. Or even a bad joke.
In that game, Langerhans entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh. This time, he took over in right field in the ninth after Ken Griffey Jr. pinch-hit for third baseman Jack Hannahan in the bottom of the eighth. Bill Hall moved from right to third, and Langerhans became the right-fielder. Don Wakamatsu noted that the addition of Hall gave him the versatility to make a move like that with Ichiro unavailable because of a calf injury.
The Mariners were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position tonight, but they got the clutch hit when they needed it.
It was Seattle’s 11th walk-off victory this season, tied with the Yankees for the American League lead.
As had been the case on Aug. 7, when he hit a two-run homer in the 11th to beat Tampa Bay, Langerhans was pummeled by jubilant teammates as he crossed the plate. Both homers came off lefties — Craig Breslow last night, Tampa’s J.P. Howell the previous time.
“This might have been worse,” he said with a smile. “There were a lot of low hook shots to the ribs.”
When the Mariners came into the dugout in the bottom of the 10th, Mike Sweeney had a message for Langerhans, who was due up third.
“He said, ‘Hey, you’ve been there before. Just put the tape in the VCR and hit play,’ ” Langerhans said. “We had a pretty good chuckle about that. After I crossed the plate, he was just beaming. He had a huge smile on his face. He was saying, I told you so.”
With one out, Franklin Gutierrez singled up the middle. Langerhans crushed a 2-2 breaking pitch over the right-field wall to beat Oakland, for whom he played from April 29 to May 2, 2007.
Langerhans spent three whole days in the green and gold, during which time he played two games. Langerhans was traded to Washington for ex-Mariner Chris Snelling without ever setting foot in Oakland as a member of the A’s.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me how Oakland was,” Langerhans said after the game. “I say, ‘I don’t know. I never went there.’ … They sent me a jersey, though, I thought that was cool.”
If you thought Oakland rookie Brett Anderson looked impressive, you’re not the only one. Don’t let his 7-9 record and 4.51 ERA deceive you. He has a 3.20 ERA over his last 10 starts prior to this one. Johnny Damon predicted recently that Anderson is going to be a superstar. Wakamatsu raved after the game.
“I’m telling you, Anderson is awfully tough,” he said. “He’s going to be around a long time and be a special pitcher. This guy is good.”
Wakamatsu thought this might have been the Mariners’ best defensive game of the year, citing plays by Hall, Russ Branyan, Gutierrez and Michael Saunders. And give some credit to the bullpen — Shawn Kelley, David Aardsma and Mark Lowe — who held the A’s scoreless on one hit over the final 3 2/3 innings in relief of Ryan Rowland-Smith. The four M’s pitchers didn’t issue any walks tonight.
(Photo by Elaine Thompson, Associated Press)