I’d debated earlier this week going to today’s game, simply because I wanted to see CJ Wilson, who I’ve been following on Twitter for many months. Doug Fister and semi-decent Seattle weather would have been reason enough, but Wilson, too? Almost too good to pass up – but alas, I did. Before the game, I was listening to one of the older Lookout Landing podcasts, and Jeff and Matthew were talking about our DH situation and the fact that having Milton Bradley at DH and Eric Byrnes in left (rather than Mike Sweeney or Ken Griffey Jr anywhere near the lineup in general) would be preferable to what’s been going on lately. As if on some mysterious cosmic cue, a short while later, Twitter was updated by several sources with a lineup change that did just that for today. I was immediately looking forward to the game a little more. CJ Wilson was not adorned with the facial hair seen in this photo (a shame, really), and Franklin Gutierrez also took my advice from yesterday and shaved that odd chinstrap beard thing he’s been cultivating for the past week or so. Victory is mine!
Our first run in a 0-0 game came on a Franklin Gutierrez single in the 4th inning. Chone Figgins managed to steal second against Wilson, and beat feet around third on Gutz’s hit to get home. Jose Lopez followed it up with a double out to right center field. After that hit came, Wilson spent some time digging at the mound with his cleats before throwing a pitch to Milton Bradley, who hit a flyout to left field. Gutz tagged and made a half-hearted start for home, but would probably have been tagged out, so he stayed put. He joked with third baseman Michael Young, who made tagging motions at him while laughing. Casey Kotchman got hit by a pitch to load ’em up for Eric Byrnes, who struck out. Rob Johnson flew out to center for the final, but at least we got on the board.
Ichiro made a stunning jumping catch to rob Justin Smoak out of a home run in the 6th inning, and Max Ramirez ruined Fister’s no-hit bid with a single to left field. So 5 & 1/3 innings of no-hit ball for Fister, the third such start he’s made this year. Like his contest against the Orioles the other week, the crowd at SafeCo gave him a nice standing ovation as he walked back to the dugout after the 6th inning was over. Not too shabby all ’round. For a guy who wasn’t really on the radar much before the season started, he’s been a pleasant surprise this year. His pitch speeds were all over the place today, and his location was excellent. Limiting the Rangers to two hits through 8 innings is no small feat, but Fister made it look easy.
In the 8th, Fister gave up a base hit to Justin Smoak with two out, and having to face Vladimir Guerrero as a pinch hitter. Guerrero took the first pitch for a single, sending the ball within about a foot or two of Fister’s head and shoulders as he reeled around from the momentum of the throw. The hit put men on the corners, and sent Rick Adair out to the mound to check on his starter. Julio Borbon was the last batter of the inning, grounding out to keep Fister’s shutout intact through 8. Would they send him back out for 9? Mark Lowe was warming up in the pen, just in case. No 9th for Fister: 100 pitches was his final line, and Lowe was exchanged for David Aardsma warming up instead.
CJ Wilson stayed on the mound until the 8th inning, after giving up a walk to Chone Figgins. He was replaced by reliever Chris Ray. With Gutierrez at bat, Figgins stole second, making second baseman Ian Kinsler drop the ball and managing to escape the tag. Gutz took a walk with no outs, a problem that Jose Lopez “fixed” by line driving into a double play. Ray gave the full count to Milton Bradley, and as Gutz attempted a second base steal, Bradley struck out swinging. Game 1-0 Mariners, and David Aardsma walked out of the bullpen to the dulcet strains of Saliva’s “Ladies and Gentlemen“, which I can only hope was played loudly by those in control of the PA system.
Elvis Andrus was Aardsma’s first batter, and the fight was long. Aardsma walked Andrus on the 12th pitch he threw, and I started wondering if maybe it might not have been fair (and far more advantageous) to leave Fister in for the full game. Michael Young was next, and while he was sizing Aardsma up, Andrus took off and stole second under Rob Johnson’s throw. Aardsma finally got Young to chase a pitch out and away to strike out swinging. David Murphy managed a single to score Elvis Andrus, and while Josh Hamilton was batting, Murphy tried to steal second, but was tagged out, Johnson to Jack Wilson. Hamilton popped up for the final out to Eric Byrnes in what was now a tied game. Ugh.
Darren Oliver was the next pitcher for the Rangers, and while he warmed up on the hill, Rick Adair had a talk with Aardsma in the dugout. Aardsma didn’t look happy, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s OK. Now we have something in common. Oliver’s lineup was Casey Kotchman, Eric Byrnes, and Rob Johnson, and after Kotch drove out to short, my hopes were not high. Per a Tweet from Larry Stone, Byrnes is now hitting .094, and is 3 for 32. It is already being surmised by more than a few people that he may be released soon. Rob Johnson put some pound on his last pitch, but it was a few yards short of the wall, and easily caught by Julio Borbon.
Brandon League took a turn in the 10th inning, and despite the amount of discomfort that inning caused for yours truly, he kept Texas runless. Dustin Nippert had a bit of trouble with the top of our order, but was still able to keep us from doing any damage. Mark Lowe was our man on the hill in the 11th. As I post this, Lowe has just allowed two more runs to come in, the top of the 11th is over, and I am oh-so-glad that there is a break tomorrow. I’m not even waiting until the end of this mess to post. Swept at home by the Rangers? Taking an excellent Doug Fister start and wiping your cleats over it? Bad deal, boys, bad deal.
I can’t even take any consolation in the fact that the Baltimore Orioles swept the Boston Red Sox this weekend. Something needs to change here. I don’t know when this is going to be enough for the Powers That Be, but it’s enough for me. I’m not going back to 2008. Give me offense or give me DEATH.