(Mike Carp is all smiles after his game-winning homer in the eighth. Photo by Associated Press).
Eric Wedge was of the belief this was one of the best all-around games for the Mariners this year, and it’s hard to argue.
Pitching? Blake Beavan worked seven solid innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk or strike out anyone. Wedge liked the way he came back after giving up three runs in the fourth to blank the Angels over the next three innings. Tom Wilhelmsen, who has been dominating of late, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth, and Brandon League racked up his 32nd save (but not without giving up a two-out double to official Mariner killer Mark Trumbo to bring up the tying run, Vernon Wells, who grounded out.
Defense? Brendan Ryan made a nifty bare-handed play,and, of course, Casper Wells gunned down two runners.
Offense? Seven extra-base-hits, tying the most this season, capped by Mike Carp’s majestic two-run homer into the Hit It Here Cafe in the eighth to win it. Carp said he hit it so well, he didn’t even feel it.
“It’s just one of those things, you know when you hit it,” he said. “It’s one of those great feeling you can’t describe. You really have to play baseball to know.”
“I wanted to move the runner over,” Carp added. “That’s my job. I did more than that, which is good.”
So much more that Dustin Ackley, whose double had started the rally, couldn’t help but stop and admire the drive.
“After he hit it, I just stopped,” Ackley said. “I said, ‘I’m just going to watch this ball and see where it ends up.’ I stood there and watched it. You don’t see many balls land there. Even in BP, you don’t see many balls go that high.”
Ackley went 3-for-3, including a single, double and triple. I guess he and Carp made some of those adjustments Wedge was talking about on Sunday.
“It’s been tough, especially the last week or two,” Ackley said. “They’ve been going mostly hard in and soft away. I’ve had to find my spots where I can get a pitch and get one. But most of the time, it’s just not getting a pitch to hit. When you get a pitch to hit, you can’t miss it, and lately I’ve been missing some, and it hasn’t been working out the way I wanted.”
Ichiro, who ripped two doubles — and they were ripped — deserves some mention. He’s now hit in 12 straight games, during which he’s hitting .370 (20-for-54).
“To drive the ball the way he did, to right center and then left center, it looks like he’s a little more under control up there at home plate,” Wedge said. “I think that allows his hands to work better and stay through the ball better. You guys can critique his swing as well as I can, because no one but him knows how he does it. That’s what I’m seeing.”
Some of the Mariners players said they were fired up by Wedge’s pre-game speech in which he stressed the importance of playing hard until the end of the season.
“We came out with a fire tonight, and it showed,” Wells said. “I liked everything he said. It definitely pumped me up. I think he got the message across to a lot of people how to take this game at the major-league level. I was waiting for someone to start clapping afterward.”