Mariners go down meekly in ninth, lose 5-2. This was an especially frustrating game in a season full of them.
OAKLAND NINTH: The A’s gave themselves a cushion by scoring two — only one earned because of a Figgins error (waving at a hard grounder by Jackson). The runs are the first scored off Wright this year. Brandon League came in and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation without further damage. 5-2 A’s.
SEATTLE EIGHTH: Another blown chance for the M’s, who get runners on first and third with two outs on a one-out walk by Olivo and a two-out single by Ryan. The A’s call on closer Brian Fuentes, a lefty. Wedge hits Rodriguez for Saunders — and Fuentes strikes out Rodriguez on 2-2 pitch. 3-2 A’s.
OAKLAND EIGHTH: A tidy 10-pitching inning for Wright, who is making his 10th appearance and still hasn’t allowed a run. Grand Balfour takes over on the mound. 3-2 A’s.
SEATTLE SEVENTH: The Mariners got one back but blew a golden opportunity to tie the game. Saunders led off with an infield single when Anderson was slow to cover first on his grounder to first. Wilson hit a routine grounder to third, but Kouzmanoff threw wildly, leaving runners on second and third, no outs. Langerhans hit a grounder to first, bringing in Saunders and moving Wilson to third with one out. But Ichiro flied out to center, too shallow to score Wilson, and Figgins struck out looking. Both Seattle runs have scored on infield ground outs. Jamey Wright in to pitch the eighth. 3-2 A’s.
OAKLAND SEVENTH: Willingham got his revenge for getting hit twice, delivering the big hit in the game, a two-run double with two outs off Aaron Laffey. Right beofre, pinch-hitter Connor Jackson hit a broken-bat dribbler up the middle that barely went through for a single. 3-1 A’s.
SEATTLE SIXTH: Coco Crisp made a tremendous catch to rob leadoff hitter Miguel Olivo. Olivo sent a rocket to center that Crisp caught on the run right before smashing into the wall. He was shaken but but stayed in the game, receiving a nice ovation from the crowd. The M’s went down in order. Laffey is entering the game to pitch the seventh. 1-1
OAKLAND SIXTH: Fister gives up a leadoff walk to Matsui but retires the next three. He’s at 110 pitches and probably done for the day. If so, it’s a fine effort: one run allowed in six innings, four hits, two walks and five strikeouts. 1-1.
SEATTLE FIFTH: Well the A’s blew a chance in the top of the fifth, the M’s just blew one in the bottom of the fifth. Wiwth one out, back to back singles by Langerhans and Ichiro put runners on first and second. Figgins grounded weakly to third, moving up the runners, and Bradley popped out to center. 1-1.
OAKLAND FIFTH: Fister does some fancy pitching after yielding a leadoff triple. As I wrote on twitter (@stonelarry), Crisp hasn’t moved that fast since he was avoiding the Mariner Moose. Adam Kennedy save a run with a great stop of Barton’s smash. DeJesus popped to third, and Willingham flied out to center. 1-1.
SEATTLE FOURTH: Fister has hit Wilingham twice today, and now Anderson hits Ryan with two outs. Could be an answer by Oakland. Nevertheless, Saunders grounds out for final out. M’s are being stymied by Anderson You can understand why Wedge played for one run in the first. 1-1.
OAKLAND FOURTH: Fister gives up a two-out walk to Kouzmanoff, which isn’t easy to do. It was his first walk of the season in his 62nd plate appearance. Pennington flied out to right to end the inning. 1-1.
SEATTLE THIRD: M’s get nothing out of a leadoff single by Ryan Langerhans. 1-1.
OAKLAND THIRD: Fister hits Willingham again with two outs. Willingham, hit on the shoulder blade, was in serious pain, but he shook it off. Fister then struck out Matsui to end the inning. One game after racking up career-high seven strikeouts, Fister has fanned three through three. 1-1.
SEATTLE SECOND: Anderson makes quick work of Mariners, striking out Wilson and Ryan and getting Saunders on a bunt attempt to third. 1-1.
OAKLAND SECOND: Fister works out of trouble after a one-out single and stolen base by Kouzmanoff. Fister speared Pennington’s comebacker and caught Kouzmanoff off second for the second out. Pennington moved to second on a wild pitch, but after a tough battle with Crisp, who worked the count to 3-2, he flied out to left. Fister already has 42 pitches. 1-1.
SEATTLE FIRST: The Mariners tied the game, and the ball never left the infield. It barely left the grass. Ichiro led off with an infield single, stole second (he was picked off, but the throw to second from first baseman Daric Barton hit him in the back), moved to third on Figgins’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on Bradley’s slow roller to second. Eric Ball! 1-1.
OAKLAND FIRST: A challenging 23-pitch first for Fister, who gives up a two-out, RBI single to Hideki Matsui on a 3-2 pitch before striking out Mark Ellis on three pitches. Fister also gave up a leadoff single to Coco Crisp and hit Josh Willingham on a 1-1 pitch. 1-0 A’s.
Happy Easter, everyone. It’s a drizzly, roof-closed kind of day.
Ichiro is the DH today, and the Mariners’ crack PR department notes that in 27 games as DH, Ichiro has a .368 average (42-for-114) with a .402 on-base percentage and .509 slugging percentage. He’s scored 21 runs, driven in 12, with three doubles, two triples and three homers, with seven walks and seven steals in eight attempts.
Before the game, Eric Wedge was asked about Michael Saunders’ ill-fated attempt to steal third base in the third inning on Friday. He was thrown out for the third out of the inning.
“We didn’t want to do that last night,” he said. “That was a mistake. But it’s a learning moment. It’s a teaching moment. When you got a left-hand hitter up there with two outs (Luis Rodriguez), if you’re going to go there, you have to know you’re going to make it. Even with a right-hand hitter up there.”
The standard baseball rule is you don’t make the first out or last out of an inning at third base.
“There’s some rule of thumb there, but there are always exceptions,” Wedge said. “I don’t want to go straight by the book. It’s not the way I am, it’s not the way I want to be, I don’t think it’s the way we need to be. But we don’t want to push bad plays, either. There’s points in time we might be a little more risky, but that’s not one of them there.”
The Mariners end a stretch of 17 games without a day off today. They’re idle tomorrow before starting a six-game road trip in Detroit on Tuesday. The Mariners have started the year with 23 games in 24 days.
“I think sometimes it’s a good thing when you have to have a stretch like this early on in the season,” Wedge said. “It tests your toughness, both mentally and physically. You immediately get into the grind, so the next time you go through it you’re a little bit wiser for the wear. It also gives you an opportunity to play everyone a little more, because obviously you have to give some calculated days off. So there’s some positives to it, and that’s what we’ve tried to do with it.”