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April 27, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Mariners applaud efforts of multiple players who got Michael Saunders in position for second home run

Michael Saunders was clearly the decisive force in tonight’s game, clubbing that grand slam off a lefty reliever, Luis Perez, who had compiled a streak of 12 2/3 scoreless innings to that point. Saunders went up looking for something high that he could hit, got what he needed and didn’t miss.
Earlier, he’d homered off right-hander Francisco Cordero in the ninth to get the Mariners started on their second comeback of the night.
But that ninth inning shot looked like it would be too little, too late. Indeed, plenty of other things had to happen for Saunders to deliver this 9-5 victory in the 10th.
First, the obvious second error of the game by third baseman Brett Lawrie on a routine play. Should never happen. He’ll hear about that one for a while. From fans, as well, I’m sure, from his coaches and teammates. You just can’t lose focus during routine stuff like that and cost your team a game. Folks were already getting up to leave the building when Kyle Seager hit that grounder. It’s a routine throw and Lawrie has to make it.
After that, though, manager Eric Wedge deployed his bench like it was the bottom of the 12th inning in a playoff game. He put Munenori Kawasaki in as a pinch-runner and saw him go first-to-third on a bad pickoff throw by catcher J.P. Arencibia. Truth be told, Jesus Montero might have made it to third given how long it took for the Blue Jays to get to the ball and throw it back in.
Still, the M’s did the job.
Then, you had John Jaso coming in cold off the bench to pinch-hit. He doesn’t get many chances to swing a bat, but wow, does he make them count.
“He has great hands at the plate,” Wedge said. “He has good plate discipline. He has a great heartbeat as well and it really showed out there in the ninth.”
Did it ever. Jaso was down 1-2 and again, everyone started making plans to leave the building. But he fouled off the next pitch, then took a ball to even the count 2-2. Then, he singled to center.
“I’m just trying to get a base-hit,” Jaso said. “I’m not trying to do anything too difficult there.”
It was a pretty clear, tying single off the bat, but center fielder Colby Rasmus made a lunging attempt anyway and had the ball short-hop him by quite a bit. Rasmus kept it in front of him, but since it took a bit of time for the Blue Jays to come up with the ball, the M’s tried a very risky gamble in waving Dustin Ackley all the way around from first.
The Blue Jays needed to make a play — but not a very tough one. Ackley was thrown out and the game went to extras a half-inning later.

And when it did, the Mariners were ready. They got singles from Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Alex Liddi. Yeah, that Liddi guy again. Made a nice, run-saving defensive play tonight and gets a key hit. We’re seeing a different guy from the one who finished last season in Seattle and was sent home by two winter ball teams because of fatigue.
The Liddi single was key because it sent the go-ahead run to third with fewer than two out.
And the Mariners needed that because, with their bench already depleted by Wedge’s in-game moves, they had no pinch-runners left and three of the slowest guys on the team clogging the bases. So, the closer to home the better.
“We played it really close to the vest, trying to keep it close in a tight ballgame on the road, when typically you probably wouldn’t,” Wedge said. “But we wanted to give our guys every opportunity to win that ballgame and they really stepped up.
“Multiple players stepped up to win that game on the mound and in the batter’s box.”
Saunders made the whole lack of pinch-runners thing a moot point with one swing.
“It wasn’t just a couple of hits,” Saunders said. “It was a full team game.”
Saunders said Jaso was the reason he was even still hitting in the 10th. He’d seen a high change-up from Perez the very first pitch.
A pre-game scouting report he’d read said Perez likes to use his change-up and seeing one on the first pitch told him more would be coming. So, he waited. And when Perez tried to drop another in on him at 1-2, he was ready.
“You don’t see many lefty-on-lefty change-ups like that, especially in that situation,” Saunders said. “So, after that, I was just trying to get my foot down early, see the ball up and just barrel it up enough to get it to the outfield.”
That he did and more.
And Perez, the Blue Jays and their stunned fans probably have no idea what hit them or how they lost this game. For the Mariners, one of the more improbable comebacks they’ll ever have. Even that comeback from 7-0 down against Toronto for a walk-off win last year didn’t have the team within a botched throw of losing.
Good win for the Mariners. That’s four in a row. All of a sudden, last week’s debacle seems a long, long time ago.

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero


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