I watched tonight’s rout from a friend’s house. It would have been great to be there, especially given that there were several pre-game reports of people waiting in line for Ken Griffey Jr bobbleheads and then going home – I would have liked to have been one of the people that actually stayed for the game. If you’re going to pay for the game, why not stay? Makes no sense to me, especially given the fact that a lot of the bobbles will be on eBay within hours of the game starting. Due to the pre-game show on FSN, I now know that Jason Phillips is the name of the bullpen catcher who has managed to make his way into so many of my photos from last year. I probably could have looked it up, but the pre-game show came through for me, talking about how the catchers train and talking to Rob Johnson about his multiple offseason surgeries.
Both teams players were wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson night, and I knew I was in for a bit of a problem in keeping track of everyone on the Tigers roster, between watching the game and attempting conversation with friends Kathleen and Jenny. But there was a game on TV, a lovely sunset out the window, and King Felix was ruling the hill. I can’t complain.
Jeremy Bonderman was only effective through about two innings and change. We got in the game early, getting Ichiro and Chone Figgins on base at the corners, then Franklin Gutierrez came through with a triple to send them both home. Jose Lopez shot a single into the left field gap to send Gutz in to score. Ken Griffey Jr entered to the sound of loud ecstatic cheers (it was his bobblehead night, after all), and struck another single over the hole between first and second. Milton Bradley flew out to center to end the third, and Bonderman walked dejectedly back to the dugout.
Chone Figgins made a catching error at the top of the 4th, giving Austin Jackson the first hit of the night for Detroit. Johnny Damon hit his first pitch over first, and as Casey Kotchman dove for it, Jackson bolted for third, men on the corners now with nobody out. Figgins redeemed himself by catching a liner from Magglio Ordonez to get the first out of the inning, but Damon stayed safe at first. Felix then hit Rob Johnson in his little robot foot with a wild pitch, advancing Damon to second. Miguel Cabrera then took advantage of Felix’s amped-up state by striking one out to right over Ichiro, sending both runners home. Score 2-3 Mariners. Brandon Inge took a full count before becoming Felix’s 6th strikeout victim. We managed to score another run in the bottom of the 4th due to bunts. BUNTS! courtesy of Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson. Also, a throwing error by the Tigers, but I’ll take it. Chone Figgins hit a sac fly, sending RJ home, score 2-5. Jeremy Bonderman did not look good.
The hits kept coming in the 5th. With nobody out, Ken Griffey Jr drove Jose Lopez to third from first base, and Milton Bradley was the next batter up. Bradley did battle with Bonderman for a few pitches before sending one into shallow right field, sending Lopez home and Griffey to second, score 2-6. Casey Kotchman took advantage of a shaken Bonderman, striking a single with nobody out, and loading the bases. Rob Johnson managed to be patient enough to take and take until Bonderman threw a really lousy pitch inside and walked him, sending Junior home to score. And that was it for Bonderman. Brad Thomas was in after a commercial break.
Thomas gave up a sac fly to Jack Wilson to send Bradley home, score 2-8 now. Felix had more than enough insurance runs, but we weren’t done yet. Ichiro took a chunk out of the first pitch he saw from Thomas, getting his single over Thomas’s head, and sending Casey Kotchman home, score 2-9 Mariners. Chone Figgins took the full count for a walk to load ’em up again. Gerald Laird looked kind of bummed as Franklin Gutierrez came up to bat, and was probably even more bummed when Gutz hit a single to send Rob Johnson home and keep the bases loaded. When Jose Lopez came up again for the second time in the inning and hit a sac fly to right field to send Ichiro home past a Magglio Ordonez throw across the field, I’d like to think that Laird was just devastated. Or at least mightily annoyed. I can only hope. 2-11, Mariners.
I took a small break for the Tigers part of the 6th, but when I came back, they were still in the same place I left them, and we were well on our way to loading the bases again, with Ichiro sizing Brad Thomas up; but he would fly out to complete the inning.
Felix lasted into the 7th, but the Tigers started to try and mount an offense, and our young ace was wearing down a little. He obviously wasn’t happy about it, but with two men on and two out, Don Wakamatsu came onto the field and replaced him with Sean White. The 35,000+ crowd stood and applauded their King, and Sean White took care of his last Tiger with relative ease.
Thomas was still in long relief in the bottom of the 7th, and managed to keep us at bay with our 12 hits and 11 runs. White struggled lightly through the top of the 8th, but, while he gave up some hits, kept the Tigers from making it to home plate. With a final flyout to the warning track off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, Eric Byrnes was where he needed to be when he needed to be there for the final out.
I was hoping for a David Aardsma sighting to finish it up, but instead they sent in Mark Lowe, who promptly gave up a double to Carlos Guillen. Lowe struck out Don Kelly looking, got Alex Avila to ground out, and then let Scott Sizemore have a single that sent Cabrera home. Adam Everett sent a fly up over short to end the game 11-3.
It was nice to finally see our offense perk up like this, small balling our way to a massive win. The semi-aggressive baserunning didn’t hurt, either. We’re now 5-6, which is great. I’d like to see it at .500 tomorrow, boys. FSN is airing batting practice at 5.30, so if I’m home I plan on watching that. Also, I hear from a reliable source (Shannon Drayer) that Cliff Lee may be tossing an AAA game here pretty soon, depending on the situation with the suspension. Before I checked the Rainiers schedule, I got all spazzy about going to a game, but they’re out of town for a while, and it sounds like Lee might take his turn on the road. I also heard that Garrett Olson will be added to the starting rotation for the Rainiers soon. This pleases me greatly.
I am officially worn out from all of this. It’s amazing how far a little offense can go, and how wound up I get when the team wins. It’s like drinking a bunch of coffee. Ryan Rowland-Smith is taking the mound for the start tomorrow against Justin Verlander, subbing in for Ian Snell, who is dealing with some family issues (and who will start Sunday, as is my understanding). Hoping Hyphen can pull out some stops and give the Tigers a little business from Down Under. Go Mariners!