This one had all the telltale signs of a frustrating Mariners loss we’ve seen a million times. Felix Hernandez pitched great (seven innings, two runs) but wound up with a no-decision after leaving with the game tied at 2-all. It was tied because the Mariners had blown several chances to score, one of them on a bad call at first base.
But this one detoured to a 4-2 Mariners’ victory in 10 innings that left numerous points to touch upon. The most obvious, of course, was Kyle Seager’s two-run homer with two outs in the 10th that provided the margin. It was the first time he’s ever had a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later, and Eric Wedge talked about how he was yelling at Michael Saunders to get moving because he didn’t think the ball was going to clear the fence. It did, and Saunders was able to trot home ahead of Saunders.
Saunders’ at-bat, actually, was another one to note. He had missed nearly a week (except for pinch-running) with a finger injury. He fell behind 0-2, then worked the two-out walk to keep the inning alive for Seager.
“First off it was a great at-bat by Saunders,” Seager said. “For him to battle there, that was big and that’s a tough lefty there. Two outs like that, you’re definitely looking for a pitch to drive. But off him, it’s pretty tough. He’s pretty tough on lefties. So I was just trying to look for a good pitch to hit and try not to miss it.”
“I’d faced him a few times. He threw Saunders a couple sliders that he was able to take and for the most part his ball has little natural cut it seems. I’ve faced him a few times and he’s pretty tough.”
Seager is 6-for-13 with two homers in his last three games after hitting a little bit of a slump prior to that.
“I was taking some decent swings during that little stretch, but I wasn’t letting the ball travel enough,” he said. “I was hitting it two or three balls out in front of where I should have been hitting it and I made an adjustment today and felt pretty good in there today. I was able to let the ball travel a little more.”
Another notable at-bat was provided by rookie Mike Zunino, who had struck out with two runners aboard in both the second and fourth. He came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth and immediately fell behind 0-2. It looked like another strikeout in the making, but he worked the count full, fouled off a pitch, then hit a ball down the third-base line that went off Adrian Beltre’s glove for a game-tying RBI.
“I just sort of gave myself two opportunities in the first couple of at-bats and couldn’t do anything with them,” Zunino said. “I just needed to stay patient. But I fell behind 0-2. They were still trying to put me away with the same stuff. I was able to lay off a couple sliders in the dirt and get one a little more elevated on 3-2 and put it down the line and was able to get a hit.”
The Mariners rookies are going through growing some growing pains. Nick Franklin was 0-for-5 while Brad Miller was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Wedge said he’s willing to put up with the struggles because he sees the upside.
“It’s a lot of fun, because you know what they’re going through,” he said. “They’re going to have some success, and they’re going to have some failure, but they’re going to learn with every pitch and every at-bat. What I love about them is they’re all competitors. They’re not afraid of anything. They get a little upset with themselves if they don’t have success but that’s in a good way. They all feel they deserve to be here and they expect to have success. It’s not quite that easy, but I like the attitude.”
Justin Smoak had three hits and a walk tonight and is quietly putting together a pretty good stretch. Charlie Furbush retired all five batters he faced for the win. And Tom Wilhelmsen saved his first game since June 10.
“It was either going to be him or Farquhar,” Wedge said. “Capps was sick. Obviously, Danny hadn’t had any experience with that. It was a good time. With what Tommy’s been doing, the momentum he’s gained, it was a good opportunity for him to do that. It wasn’t something we sat down with him ahead of time and said, this is going to be your role. We just rolled into it and matched up like we do. I had Oliver ready for Pierzynski in case got that far, but Tommy looked great tonight.”
Here’s what Wilhelmsen had to say about being back out in a save situation.
“Every single inning is exciting and fun to be out there. If we had scored runs the inning prior, I wouldn’t have been out there. So I don’t know or quite frankly care so much if it’s a closer’s role or not. It’s just getting outs at this point.”