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So this guy got it right …
Here’s that line-up he was talking about.
So the much-debated, pieced-together, right-handed heavy Mariners’ line-up that was missing slugger Robinson Cano for the third straight game and featured a No. 1 and No. 2 hitter, whose combined age was over 72 years old, somehow managed to pull out a 3-2 win.
As the twitter says, @cantpredictball
It was far from a hitting display.
Willie Bloomquist had a pair of RBI singles and Cole Gillespie had a RBI single – both right-handed hitters – to drive in all of the runs.
“Willie had a pretty darn good game,” McClendon said. “Other than that, we didn’t hit him really hard. I’ve said all along – sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Today we were fortunate. We got some seeing-eye hits. And it’s about time we get our share of those.”
Smyly was never sharp from the start. And it fell apart in the second inning. Stefen Romero yanked a one-out single into left field and John Buck followed with a bloop single to center. Romero got a nice read on the soft flare and was able to advance from first to third on the play. That heads up running loomed large when Gillespie hit a swinging bunt off the end of his bat just past the mound for an infield single that allowed Romero to race home.
“It’s not exactly how I drew it up,” Gillespie joked. “I feel like I’m getting some of those soft ones falling in there now, after getting some hard outs earlier in the year. That was a great read by Romero. Obviously every hitter would like to go up there a runner at third base and less than two outs.”
Later with two outs in the inning, Bloomquist pulled a ground ball through the left side of the infield to score Gillespie from second and make it 2-0.
“I’m just trying to get good pitches to hit,” Bloomquist said. “For me, that’s the biggest challenge right now is to make sure I swing at strikes. Without consistent reps, you are kind of up there swinging at stuff you shouldn’t be.”
When Smyly finally got Chavez to ground out to end the inning, he’d thrown 38 pitches in the frame and was at 54 total after two innings – not ideal for any starter.
“He had a little trouble with his command,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “He had trouble getting ahead, and when he did get ahead, it seemed like they would work their way back into 3-2 counts.”
The Tigers answered as only they can with brute power in the fourth inning.
Miguel Cabrera took advantage of a 0-2 fastball up in the strike zone from Mariners’ starter Chris Young and crushed it into the left field seats for his second homer in as many days and 10th of the season.
“He’s an unbelievable hitter,” Young said. “There’s no real way to get him out. You just kind of get lucky.”
The Mariners’ makeshift lineup answered as only it could, scratching a run across.
Gillespie reached on a throwing error by shortstop Andrew Romine, stole second and then scored when Bloomquist dumped a single into right field off of Smyly to make it 3-1.
“When you aren’t scoring a ton of runs, those things really matter,” Bloomquist said of the base-running plays. “Those are things that sometimes go unnoticed, but those are the things that win the game for you.”
Gillespie on the steal: “I saw him come over on the pick-off move and it looked pretty obvious. I asked Andy (Van Slyke) if that was the best move he’s got and we both agreed. So I thought I could get a pretty good jump off him. So I told Andy I was going to go. I got a good jump and it ended up a pretty big lead. I was going on first movement and I felt pretty comfortable he was going to the plate.”
Detroit cut the lead to 3-2 in the seventh inning. Austin Jackson led off with a double to center off of Young, ending his outing. Jackson later came around to score on a wild pitch by Dominic Leone. The Mariners looked on the verge of giving up the lead. But with two outs and runners on first and second, Gillespie made a brilliant running catch, slamming into the left field wall and robbing Ian Kinsler of a double to end the inning.
“It was a ball that I thought I had a pretty good jump on from the get go,” Gillespie said. “The wall actually snuck up on me. I thought I had more room to go.”
Young was charged with the run, but it was a still a solid outing. He worked six innings, giving up two runs on three hits with two walks and a season-high six strikeouts. He improved to 5-2 on the season and 3-0 in five starts at Safeco Field.
“The guy is phenomenal,” McClendon said. “He knows his game plan. He knows what he wants to do and he follows it pretty good. Tonight he was pretty good.”
After Yoervis Medina pitched a scoreless eighth inning, Fernando Rodney provided some drama in the ninth inning because that’s what he does. Rodney walked Alex Avila and then gave up broken bat single to Don Kelly. But he coolly struck out Andrew Romine, who first tried to sac bunt.
“I tried to throw the first pitch as a strike,” he said. “The other pitches I didn’t want to throw for a strike because I’m ahead in the count. So I tried to throw something elevated. I’m glad I did. Sometimes when you throw fastball right at the chest, you cannot bunt it if you aren’t ready. And we took advantage.
Then after 10 pitches, he finally struck out Rajai Davis.
“When he got two strikes, he was looking for something soft,” Rodney said. “That’s why he kept fouling pitches off. He was protecting. That last pitch, I said, I’m going to die with my best pitch – my fastball,” Rodney said. “So I threw a good sinker and he was out.”
Rodney got Ian Kinsler to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game for his 14th save. Kinsler went 0-for-5, ended four innings with runners on and personally stranded seven runners.
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