What a night for Mariners rookie Brad Miller, who had his own cheering section from his Orlando suburb of Windemere, Fla. in attendance tonight and responded with a pair of home runs.
“It was awesome,’’ he said. “Just before the game, getting to see every coach I’ve ever had since I was like, 5. My best friends and my parents. And then to go out there and get things going and finish it off with a win, that was perfect. It was a lot of fun.’’
Miller estimated he had between 40 and 60 people there to see him. That would cause pressure for some players, but Miller said he never felt any.
“I mean, it’s just so cool,’’ he said. “Having my family and everybody there just supporting me. I wanted to go out there and have fun and just keep playing the way they’ve seen me play.’’
Here’s a note: Miller came here with his father in high school and sat in the stands and saw Ben Zobrist hit his first career homer back in August 2006. Zobrist played the same position as Miller did, so he naturally had taken interest beforehand.
“I just remembered he came up as a left-handed hitting shortstop and I said ‘Hey, I’ll remember that guy’,’’ Miller said. “And he hit a home run.’’
Zobrist, of course, his his 100th career homer tonight to lead the game off, then added a second shot in the fifth. It marked the third time in baseball history two leadoff men have hit multiple homers in the same game.
In the end a triple by Dustin Ackley in the sixth inning on a three-hit night by him wound up scoring Justin Smoak with the decisive run of a 5-4 victory.
“I was kind of scared after I got around second,’’ Ackley joked of Smoak. “He kind of slowed up there a little bit and I was like ‘Hopefully, he goes home because I’m going to third no matter what.’ ’’
Erasmo Ramirez gets the win, improving to 4-0 on the year. Ramirez left with a runner on in the sixth inning and Oliver Perez promptly came on and surrendered a single to put two on. But Perez struck out a pair from there and the Mariners held on.
Danny Farquhar struck out a pair and notched the save in the ninth, his fifth so far in five tries.
“We went to him with the hot arm and he has continued to do so,’’ Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson said. “We will continue to go to him in that inning right now. He has proven that he’s the guy right now and we’ll stick with him.’’
For the Rays, this was their sixth loss in a row. They have given back first place in the AL East to the Red Sox and are now on the verge of being passed in the race for the second wild-card.