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September 19, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Mariners weary, ready to head home after 18-inning defeat

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Well, in case there was any mystery as to why the Baltimore Orioles are fighting for first place in the AL East with a run differential that would embarrass most contenders, we now have our answer.
These Orioles just don’t go away. And they didn’t tonight, not even after being manhandled for eight innings by Erasmo Ramirez. Baltimore scored two in the ninth off Ramirez and Tom Wilhelmsen, then finally won it one full ballgame later with two more runs in the 18th to hand Seattle a 4-2 loss.
It was tied for the fourth-longest game in Mariners history by innings. And it was the fifth longest in club history by time: five hours, 44 minutes.
BTW, this was eight minutes quicker than the longest game I’ve ever covered, which was a five-hour, 52-minute affair at Baltimore back in June 1998 on my very first road trip as a baseball writer covering the Blue Jays. That game ended in the 15th.
Anyhow, tonight’s contest ended in the 18th when Lucas Luetge — into his second inning of work — gave up a leadoff walk to Nate McLouth, then a single to J.J. Hardy that put runners at the corners with none out.
Pinch-hitter Taylor Teagarden followed with a bloop single to right that scored one run. Chone Figgins then bobbled a hard grounder to third and the Mariners had to settle for an out at that bag rather than a throw home to prevent a fourth Baltimore run from scoring.
But the game should have been over by then. The Mariners went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position and could not get the leadoff runner home after he’d reached base in the 16th and 17th.
“It’s tough on both sides offensively,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Everybody wants it so bad. I mean, we had so many opportunities. We had so many opportunities where with one hit, the game was over.”
But the hit never came.


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Through it all, as the crowd in the stands dwindled, there was catcher Miguel Olivo, who caught all 18 innings and eight different pitchers.
Olivo also supplied all of Seattle’s offense with a two-run homer in the fourth. He also drew a career-high three walks, including one in the 16th to lead things off.
“Miguel Olivo is as tough as they come,” Wedge said. “His drive and his heart and his intensity, it’s second to none. The guy takes tremendous care of himself and cares as much as anybody.
“You feel for all of your guys, but the guy back there catching 18 innings and fighting through it all, you feel for him.”
Olivo was looking a little worn out afterwards, but managed a smile or two in defeat.
“I’m a little tired, I’ll be honest with you,” Olivo said. “This game got me a little bit.”
Many of the Mariners were feeling this one physically. But Olivo said they were trying to win it right to the very end.
“Everybody had energy,” Olivo said. “They were cheering for everybody, rooting for everybody to try to win the game. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game, but it didn’t happen.”
The story of the night from a long-term perspective was Ramirez, who tossed the eight shutout frames of two-hit ball before the ill-fated attempt at a complete game. There are no other starts scheduled for Ramirez this season, but the team has yet to say whether he’ll get one more or go back to helping the bullpen.
Ramirez was philosophical about it all, saying he’s happy to go out on a strong note if indeed this was his final start of an injury-shortened rookie season. He spent the night being aggressive early in counts and keeping the ball down.
Wedge didn’t ask him whether he wanted to try for the complete game. He just sent him back out without a word,
“I just tried to be aggressive with the hitters in the ninth and get ahead in the count,” Ramirez said. “But I didn’t have good luck in the ninth at all. That’s what happens and it’s something I need to learn about. Of all the innings, the ninth is the toughest one.”
As were innings 10-through-18 for the Mariners offense. The pitching was outstanding all night, as Wedge and others all noted.
Now, after pitching the equivalent of nearly two complete games the past two nights, the bullpen will need Felix Hernandez to do what he does best in tonight’s finale.
See you all then.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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