If Mark Lowe (shown above after giving up the key hit of the game, a two-out, two-strike, two-run single to A.J. Pierzynski) is working in the seventh, as he was here, it’s probably not a good omen for the Mariners.
With Sean White sidelined for the past three weeks or so, and now out for the season, the Mariners have struggled to get the link to Lowe in the eighth and David Aardsma in the ninth. Tonight, after Shawn Kelley gave up two quick hits in the seventh, Lowe was summoned, and he wound up allowing those two, and another, to score as the Mariners lost, 6-3.
“This game was a lot about the bullpen, obviously,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “You win games by getting your closer in the ballgame.”
Noting that Aaardsma has pitched just once in the last 10 days, he added, “We have to find the guy that’s going to step up and give us a solid seventh.”
That need is particularly acute now that White was placed on the 60-day disabled list Tuesday with right shoulder tendinitis.
“We’ve left it to Sean all year,” Wakamatsu said of the seventh inning. “It’s been pretty critical the last week or so missing him, and not having that guy to get to (Mark) Lowe. We’ve talked about Shawn Kelley or (Randy) Messenger or someone earning that role, but no one’s stepped forward yet.”
The Mariners came away from this game with three injuries. Ian Snell was nearly scratched because of the flu, but that’s not the ailment I’m talking about. He jammed his left wrist making a nice diving play on Scott Podsednik’s fifth-inning bunt. When Jack Wilson got a bunt single in the seventh, he bruised his heel (which is probably better than aggravating his hamstring, as I originally thought). And Bill Hall had a cramp in his quadriceps running down to first after striking out in the eighth, and came out of the game. Wilson is day to day. The other injuries aren’t expected to cause any more missed playing time.
A few of us got a chance to talk briefly to Ichiro after the game. He admitted that he was completely drained after returning home from Texas Sunday, having finally notched his 200th hit.
“In my nine years playing here, there’s never been an off-day I was that exhausted,” he said through interpreter Ken Barron.
I asked if he slept all day.
“Besides that, I still swung a bat,” he said with a smile.
Ichiro said he was grateful for Tuesday’s pre-game ceremony honoring him not only for getting his 200th hit (for the ninth straight year), but also for career hit No. 2,000.
“For one player, for the organization and the fans to make time like that makes me very thankful and makes me feel warm,” he said. “Because they don’t have to do that, and they still did it for me.”
Asked if he was surprised that his ninth 200-hit season, surpassing Willie Keeler’s major-league record, wasn’t a bigger national story, Ichiro said, “No, because what others feel is not a big deal to me. Perhaps people that want to be praised by other people might feel disappointed, but that’s not me.”
(Photo by Associated Press)