May 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM
Mariners bullpen puts up great effort in clinching series
Now that’s the type of game the Mariners will be thrilled to prevail in and the kind of series that can be a real confidence-builder for this team.
The Mariners held on to win 3-2 tonight in a game that saw both sides throw some serious pitching at one another, especially in the late going. For Seattle, this first series win in New York since 2010 gives them a 5-0-1 mark in series since that disastrous road trip to Texas and leaves them just one game under .500.
Michael Morse was the difference tonight with his 10th home run of the season — a solo shot in the sixth off Shawn Kelley — giving the Mariners a cushion they really needed late. Morse becomes the first Mariners player to reach double figures for home runs, something that didn’t happen for this team until June 2 of last year when Justin Smoak hit his 10th.
But tonight’s win was all about the bullpen, from the spot start by Hector Noesi to the relief work that came after.
Oliver Perez gets the win after logging three more strikeouts and pitching out of a key jam in the fifth with runners at the corners and only one out. You know Perez has to be happy with this victory, coming as it did in New York — a city that became a personal hell for him while he toiled with the Mets a couple of years back.
This game had all the feel of a playoff contest at times. By the final few innings, both teams were making a plethora of mound changes and each at-bat took on added significance. Mariners fans, I’m sure, were holding their breath with each Carter Capps pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.
Capps was reaching 97 and 98 mph with consistency in both frames with the tying run in scoring position. He also did a great job of holding lead runner Curtis Granderson at second base while notching the second out, then did the same before striking out Ichiro on an 85 mph slider.
The pitch prior to that was a 97 mph fastball to Ichiro, so Capps was getting some serious differential pitch-to-pitch.
And then, in the end, the Mariners finally had a chance to use closer Tom Wilhelmsen in a save situation again. He’d gotten so rusty that the Mariners brought him in to mop up the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 12-2 rout.
Wilhelmsen gave up a one-out single to Brett Gardner, who stole second and then third. But Wilhelmsen came back to strike out Jayson Nix and then got Robinson Cano to ground out to shortstop.
So, the Mariners take a series here in which they lost the game started by Felix Hernandez and came a few non-strike calls away from a sweep. The Yankees are not as strong offensively as in the past, to be sure. But they were also pretty hot coming into this series and had won seven of eight after taking the opener.
They aren’t hot any more.