Was that Seattle’s last gasp? We’ll see. The Mariners scored a run in the seventh, matching one that Florida managed in the sixth on a two-out single by pitcher Chris Volstad. So, it’s now 4-2 midway through the seventh.
The Mariners had the bases loaded with two out, but Ichiro grounded meekly to third base to end the inning.
Dustin Ackley got the rally started with a single up the middle, followed by singles from Franklin Gutierrez and Carlos Peguero to load the bases with one out. Chone Figgins then gave the ball a ride pretty deep to center for a sac fly the Marlins gladly gave up rather than a hit that might have tied the game or put Seattle ahead.
Lefty Randy Choate came on to pitch and Eric Wedge — who had sent out Mike Carp in place of Jason Vargas — countered with switch-hitter Justin Smoak batting right-handed. Smoak was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but Ichiro could not come through.
8:21 p.m.: Carlos Peguero had a tremendous fifth inning, getting the M’s on the board in the top of the frame with a home run to right field with two out. That was the first and only hit by Seattle thus far, cutting Florida’s lead to 3-1.
Peguero then made a great play on a single to left by Omar Infante in the bottom of the inning. Emilio Bonifacio tried to go from first to third on the play, but Peguero charged the ball nicely and threw a strike to Chone Figgins at third.
Problem is, Figgins dropped the ball. Yes, if you didn’t hear it at home, it got pretty ugly at Safeco Field for a few seconds.
The missed play could have been disastrous because Infante took second on the throw and you had the middle of the order due up with only one out. But Gaby Sanchez popped out to shallow center, with the runner holding at third.
Hanley Ramirez was walked intentionally to load the bases — something you don’t always see in a three-run game in the fifth. But it paid off as Mike Stanton grounded out to Figgins at third.
Figgins did get a Bronx Cheer for that, in case you were wondering. But he’s breathing a sigh of relief.
7:51 p.m.: Three innings done and it’s still 3-0 for the Marlins. Looked like it might be more in the second inning with a runner on second and one out. But shortstop Brendan Ryan fielded a grounder to his right and threw to Chone Figgins at third to get the tag out of the lead runner.
So, a big play there. None on offense by the M’s yet as Seattle is being out-hit 5-0 and has gone nine up, nine down. Last night, it was eight up, eight down.
Sensing a pattern here. Trades, anyone?
The atmosphere is clearly different without the King’s Court tonight. A lone fan in the upper deck attempted to start an “O-li-vo! Oh! Oh!” chant by himself when Miguel Olivo came up for the first time, but everyone else just stood around and stared at him as if they had no clue what the heck was going on.
In other words, Safeco Field is back to normal.
7:29 p.m.: Not a good start for Jason Vargas, who gives up four consecutive hits to start his outing and three runs to fall behind 3-0 after an inning of play.
Vargas yielded singles to Emiliano Bonifacio, Omar Infante and Gaby Sanchez, then a ground-rule double to right center by Hanley Ramirez that plated a pair. Mike Stanton hit a sacrifice fly to bring home another run before Vargas rallied for a strikeout and a popout.
7:03 p.m.: Jason Vargas takes the mound for this second “road” game played by the Mariners against the abysmal Florida Marlins, who have dropped 20 of their last 22 games.
Justin Smoak was a late scratch tonight, meaning Adam Kennedy has shifted over to first base and Chone Figgins is back in the lineup at third. Figgins has to make the most of this opportunity.
We’re told Smoak is “under the weather” (aren’t we all, especially when it rains?) but will be available for pinch-hit duty.
The Texas Rangers got drilled by the New York Mets today, so the Mariners can close to within 1 1/2 games again with another win. Unbelievable they’ve been able to stay this close with their recent offensive struggles.
Seattle also needs a win to stay ahead of the Angels, now tied for second spot after a victory this afternoon over the Dodgers.