(Carlos Peguero, prior to his first game in the majors, points to the sky after the national anthem. Photo by Associated Press).
The Mariners had a foolproof formula for victory tonight — strong pitching from Doug Fister, a great clutch relief effort from Jamey Wright (one pitch to get a double play and work out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh), some solid defense, and offense galore.
Try 26 baserunners on for size — 15 hits, and 11 walks.
Not only that, but the Mariners got ahead early, scoring four in the first innings. They had scored just one run in the first inning in their previous 17 games.
Put it all together, and it was a 13-3 victory over the Tigers. It was the most runs the Mariners had scored since putting up 15 against San Diego on May 21, 2010. It allowed Fister to snap a five-game losing streak dating back to last season. In his previous three starts, the Mariners had scored a total of three runs.
The Mariners left 12 runners on base, but when you score 13, that’s OK.
Jack Wilson walked three times — his first three walks of the year. Michael Saunders had three hits, and Chris Gimenez had a big two-run single in the first as well as another single and two walks. But the real catalysts were Ichiro and Chone Figgins at the top of the order. They combined to go 7-for-9 with six runs, five runs batted in, three steals and two walks. If those two can get hot together, it will obviously elevate the entire lineup.
“Those two guys up top, they’re the ones that need to get it going, and that’s what you saw today,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “You’ve seen both of them start to move in the right direction, and I think today was the culmination of that.”
The Mariners already led the American League with 68 walks going into the game. Now they have 77 walks in 18 games — 4.3 per game. It’s a new wrinkle for a team that last year had 2.8 walks per game, ranking 13th out of 14 teams.
“We want to be aggressive when you get your pitch, but we feel if you’re aggressive with your mindset, that actually allows you to see the ball better, too,” Wedge said. “Walks are just a byproduct of that.”
A couple of other notes: Carlos Peguero, called up to replace Justin Smoak (who went on the bereavement list), made his MLB debut in the ninth, replacing Ichiro in right field. Sadly, Smoak’s father died Tuesday night of cancer.
Fister struck out a career-high seven. He mixed his pitches beautifully and really had his curve ball working.
David Aardsma made first first rehab appearance for Tacoma, giving up two hits and two runs in one inning.
Aardsma tweeted (TheDA53): “Hip felt great. I was so excited to get out there again. Not the results I wanted the important thing is I felt great.”