I don’t know where to begin with this one after four hours and 27 minutes, and 40 combined strikeouts, so I’ll start at the end. Manager Eric Wedge endorsed the decision by third-base coach Jeff Datz to send Justin Smoak from first on Dustin Ackley’s double into the right-field corner.
“He has to send him right there,” Wedge said. “He made the right play. We were working all night to try to score a run. You’ve got a chance to potentially do it. You have to send him. You could have a bad relay, or you’ve got to try to bang at home plate, and maybe he drops the ball. The catcher did a good job of hanging onto the ball. ”
Smoak said his first thought was to slide, but catcher Brayan Pena blocked the plate so well there was no opening.
“I knew off the bat I was trying to score,” he said. “They had to make a perfect relay to get me. I knew once I hit third it was going to be close. You’re thinking about sliding somewhere, and I really didn’t have anywhere to go. I just lowered my shoulder and hoped for the best. It’s part of the game.”
Wedge was frustrated by the Mariners inability to get a clutch hit as they left 10 runners on base and squandered golden opportunities in the ninth and 10th.
“We had multiple opportunities, with one hit, to win the ball game,” Wedge said. “Nobody really stepped up for us. It’s tough. Obviously, when you play that long, to squander the opportunities we had. We were just one hit away so many times. Those guys are better than that. We need someone to step up in those situations, and it didn’t happen tonight.”
I asked about the situation in the ninth when he let Raul Ibanez swing away with runners on first and second and no outs. The Tigers bunted in the same situation in the 14th and it led to the winning run. Ibanez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play as second baseman Omar Infante ranged to his left to glove Ibanez’s ground ball.
“That’s not part of his game,” Wedge said. “This guy’s been a hitter his whole career. He’s had so many big hits. They made a great play on that one. When he first hit it, I thought it was in the hole. The reason we have a tie game is him hitting the ball down the line earlier. You want to put people in a position to succeed, and that’s just not part of his game.”
It’s getting late, and I’ve got to be back bright and early, so I’m going to wrap this up. But first a few notes on the strikeouts:
–The 21 strikeouts by Seattle pitchers equaled the club record (also March 31, 1996 vs. White Sox in 12 innings, and Sept. 28, 1986 vs. Indians, also in 12 innings).
–The last time both starting pitchers allowed one run or fewer with 12-plus strikeouts was Randy Johnson (15 SO) and Mark Langston (12 SO) on Sept. 16, 1992 (via Elias).
–Felix Hernandez (12 SO) and Max Scherzer (12 SO) marked the first time in Safeco FIeld history both starters registered double-digit strikeouts.
–Hernandez and Scherzer were the first starters with 10-plus strikeouts since Clayton Kershaw (10) and Madison Bumgarner (10) on Aug. 20, 2012. It happened three times last year.
–According to research via the play index tool at Baseballreference.com, it was just the second time in MLB history where both teams recorded 18 or more strikeouts (19 by Tiger, 21 by Mariners). The only other time was June 16, 2001, when the Giants and Padres each had 20 strikeouts in a 15-inning, 4-3 Padres win.
And just think, Justin Verlander is pitching tomorrow.