So the Mariners will win again this season after all.
It was actually a well-played game all around for the M’s as they broke a seven-game losing streak. As I said in my game story, if they had played more games like this, the burning story of the day wouldn’t have been Don Wakamatsu’s job security.
But it is what it is — they are 40-67, no matter how you slice it — and so it’s hard to get too worked up about any single game.
The key play of the game was turned in by Chone Figgins in the eighth inning. The Rangers were threatening to tie the game off Brandon League and had runners on first and third, one out. Nelson Cruz hit an absolute smash to Figgins’ left. He somehow managed to spear the ball and flipped to Jack Wilson to start a lightning-quick, inning-ending double play. If that ball gets through, the Rangers probably go on to win.
“When the ball is hit that hard, with that type of velocity off the bat, you never have time to think about it,” said Figgins, who also had three hits. “You just go on reaction.”
Another key moment was Franklin Gutierrez’s decision to drop a bunt — a safety squeeze — with the bases loaded in third. Normally, you might question your No. 5 hitter bunting in that situation. But considering that cleanup hitter Russ Branyan had just struck out, and the Mariners were riding a streak of 23 consecutive innings without a run, I think it was a good call. One other factor: Rangers starter Colby Lewis had been lights out against the Mariners in three previous starts this year, putting up a 0.78 ERA. They needed to get a run any way they could.
“I saw the third baseman playing back,” Gutierrez said. “It was an easy RBI right there. That’s the way we need to play right now. We haven’t been scoring runs. We need to find a way to get it done.”
Jason Vargas pitched a strong game. For all the talk about the toll on his arm from all the innings he has pitched, he’s holding up pretty well. He says he feels strong, and he pitched like it. Out of all the misery from this season, the emergence of Vargas is one of the real positive notes. Vargas’s wife gave birth to a daughter on Friday (he flew back to Seattle from Minnesota on Saturday, missing the delivery but getting to spend the weekend with their new baby). In fact, Elizabeth was at the ballpark tonight.
“She’s 1-0,” Vargas said, smiling.
Adam Moore had a rough return at the plate with three strikeouts, but Matt Tuiasosopo had two hits, including a ground-rule double.