Ichiro just came through in the clutch big time, delivering a two-out single to left that scored Jack Wilson in the seventh for a 3-0 lead. Wilson led off with a single off the glove of second baseman Ian Kinsler, took second on a bunt, then came home when Ichiro lined one into left.
Jason Vargas got a standing ovation as he came off following the seventh inning, but he’s not done yet. Vargas is back out there, his pitch count at 85, as we begin the eighth inning. Only 14,205 fans in attendance tonight as the M’s try to wrap up a series victory. This team badly needs to keep up its on-field performance.
8:43 p.m.: Jason Vargas has given up a ton of fly balls and some line drives tonight. But he’s made big pitches when he has to and one of them came in the sixth. With one on and one out, he got Adrian Beltre to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to preserve a 2-0 lead.
Seattle looked like it would add to that advantage in the fourth when Justin Smoak drilled a ball off the center field wall near the 405-foot sign for a leadoff double. But the M’s could do nothing with it as Ryan Langerhans and Jack Wilson went down on strikes while Brendan Ryan also struck out following a two-out walk to Michael Saunders.
8:08 p.m.: Texas just had its best chance to get back in a 2-0 game in the top of the fourth, putting two on with one out on a Michael Young single and a walk to Mike Napoli. But then Jason Vargas got David Murphy to roll over on a pitch and yielded a grounder so harmless that shortstop Brendan Ryan had plenty of time to step on second base for one out and throw on to first to cap a double-play.
7:58 p.m.: Three innings done here and the Mariners lead it 2-0 after back-to-back doubles by — of all people — Brendan Ryan and Luis Rodriguez with one out in the third. Rodriguez is having himself quite a night both at the plate and in the field. He made a very tough play look easy on a chopper to third that ended the top of the frame.
Seattle took the lead on a home run to right by Justin Smoak to lead off the bottom of the second inning. That’s the third homer by Smoak in just over a week and his fifth on the season. Yes, he is looking like the real deal.
7:29 p.m.: The Mariners try to take this series against the first-place Rangers with Jason Vargas on the mound, coming off his first win in 13 starts last weekend in Boston.
We’re scoreless after an inning of play, with both teams getting a runner on but not doing anything with them. Julio Borbon reached on a one-out, infield single in the top of the first, then stole second base. But Vargas then got Michael Young to fly out to deep center and Adrian Beltre to fly out to right.
Ichiro reached on a leadoff single to left in the bottom of the first, but Luis Rodriguez struck out and Adam Kennedy flied out to left. Ichiro then moved up to second on an errant pickoff throw by Colby Lewis.
Miguel Olivo then ripped a hard grounder that bounced off Beltre at third. But Beltre, ever the pro, recovered, picked the ball up and had the presence of mind to tag Ichiro out.