PHOTO CAPTION: Once again, some thanks to guest reporter Jacob LaRoque, 13, of Touchet, Wa. here on Kids Day. Turned out, he was the good luck charm the Mariners needed.
This game ended 7-0 but could have been scoreless after six frames had Kyle Seager not demonstrated the approach the Mariners are looking for from their young hitters.
There were runners on second and third with two out when Seager stepped in against veteran Jason Marquis, whose high wire act had been running for five frames prior. What else to expect from a guy who entered with a 2-0 record despite a 6.23 ERA? Marquis is a guy who lives dangerously, as his six walks tonight would indicate.
But he’d kept things scoreless by using a sinker to generate three double-play grounders. Seager didn’t come up hacking. He simply worked off what he was given. The erratic Marquis started him off with two pitches outside the zone to fall behind 2-0.
After that, Seager went into attack mode as instructed the past year-plus by manager Eric Wedge and the team’s hitting instructor, Chris Chambliss. He wasn’t looking to work a walk — but to hit anything good thrown his way. And with the pitcher behind 2-0 in the count, he often will send something hittable in there.
Seager was ready.
“The way Marquis throws, he’s got so much sink on his ball and he’d done a good job all night of inducing a lot of ground balls and double plays,” Seager said. “We had an opportunity there with a guy in scoring position and I was just looking for anything up.”
And when Marquis threw him a fastball, Seager drilled it into center field for a two-run single. He didn’t pop the ball up, or foul it straight back. He tattooed it.
And the game was over right there.
Forget the five-run seventh, aided by Ichiro’s two-run triple and Seager’s two-run homer off former teammate Jeff Gray. The way Felix Hernandez was pitching — allowing just one hit over eight innings — he wasn’t going to blow a two-run lead that late. Not against a team as bad as the Twins, who have now scored in one inning over their last 36 and who have just nine hits their past four games.
Seager’s single effectively ended it. The rest was gravy.
Mariners manager Wedge agreed that the approach Seager took was what he is looking for his hitters to do.
“You put yourself in a position to put a good swing on a pitch that you can handle in your zone,” Wedge said. “I like the way that he sees the ball, whether it be against right-handers or left-handers.
“He gives himself a chance up there. He’s still learning. You can see that with each and every day, as all of our guys are. As we break down each individual approach, you see a lot of guys headed in the right direction. It just hasn’t translated into runs like we would have liked. But it will.”
Seager’s team was up 5-0 when he came up to face Gray in the seventh. He didn’t wait long, jumping on the first pitch and putting it into the right field seats.
“Jeff was here last year and I got to see him throw quite a bit and I know he has pretty good stuff,” Seager said. “I was just trying to be aggressive right there.”
Felix Hernandez liked what he was seeing.
“Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!,” he said afterwards.
As I mentioned on Twitter, the Twins pretty much blew the game when they failed to score in the fourth inning after Denard Span got their only hit and Hernandez walked two guys to load the bases with two out.
“I think I was missing up a little bit but not too much,” Hernandez said. “Those were good pitches.”
But the Twins could not take advantage of their good fortune. Chris Parmelee got ahead 2-1 in the count, but, unlike Seager, could not do what he wanted to with the next pitch he saw.
“That was a big time right there in that situation with the bases loaded,” Hernandez said. “I fell behind 2-1 and then I just tried to throw a good sinker. And he popped it up.”
And the seven-game losing streak came to an end.