The Mariners finally posted a lineup tonight that gave me a bit of cause for hope. Miguel Cabrera being out of the Tigers’ lineup also gave me cause for hope, but that’s a whole other story…I was offered tickets to tonight’s game by a few different people, but unfortunately too late for me to get to the stadium to go. It’s a shame, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Justin Verlander pitch in person.
With Franklin Gutierrez on base, Milton Bradley started off the first inning by taking a fastball right down the center of the plate and sending it over the right field wall, giving him his first major hitting victory since his return from the restricted list. It was the first pitch Verlander threw to him. The Tigers spent the top of the second inning getting those two runs back from us because our infield was apparently busy talking to Ken Griffey Jr taking a nap. Casey Kotchman and Josh Wilson, I’m looking at you… With two out and two on, Fister got out of what could have been a really bad situation, but there was now even more work to be done. The only thing of remote interest that happened during the bottom of the second -outside of Josh Wilson getting on base of his own accord – was that Michael Saunders took a good swing at a Verlander pitch and lost his bat flying into the camera well. He followed that feat up with a flyout to end the inning.
Verlander had figured us out after Bradley’s homer and settled in to keep us down; we would get no more runs until the 6th inning. On a 1-1 pitch in the top of the 6th, Brandon Inge took Doug Fister yard out to center field. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and back onto the field; I initially thought it might be a ground rule double because I couldn’t see it properly, but it was indeed technically out of the park. Franklin Gutierrez returned the favor in the bottom of the 6th, sending a shot over right field over Magglio Ordonez’s post, and tying up the score at 3-3. It was not too long after that that Dave Cameron mentioned on Twitter that if Gutz wasn’t voted into the ASG, it would be a crime. It would be. VOTE.
Fister pitched his 7 full innings and hopefully left to crowd applause. Shawn Kelley was sent in to replace him. Kelly promptly lost Magglio Ordonez to a walk. Michael Saunders redeemed his thrown bat by making a great running play into the left field pocket to rob Brennan Boesch of an outfield hit. Chone Figgins took a chunk out of a Verlander fastball for a double in the bottom of the 8th, and Franklin Gutierrez took a walk, which put Milton Bradley up to bat again. Bradley made a nice hit into the pocket in right field, and Figgins was waved around, sliding into the plate behind catcher Alex Avila. After a brief but annoying commercial break from Snoqualmie Casino (who seem Hell-bent on me never ever paying them a visit with their awful ad campaign), Jose Lopez did the honorable thing with one out, and sacrificed himself that Franklin Gutierrez might live. Score 5-3. Relief pitcher Joel Zumaya could not have been pleased, and Justin Verlander certainly didn’t look all that happy from his spot in the dugout.
And with the top of the 9th, David Aardsma came in. Alex Avila popped up to Josh Wilson, who emphatically waved off his teammates while looking skyward to make the catch. Ryan Raburn was the next victim, flying out to center field, which was so directly to Franklin Gutierrez, he didn’t even have to move. Aardsma dealt to Austin Jackson, who eventually struck out swining. Shawn Kelley got the win.
Nice game. Very nice.
Again, I cannot reiterate it enough; vote Franklin Gutierrez into the 2010 All-Star Game. Seriously. Just do it. You’ll feel better about yourself. I was begging off voting the ASG this year, because it takes a lot of effort to fill out all those ballots, and I went nuts last year, and all the picks I wound up with were mainly from the Phillies. But I think I have changed my mind, and may actually set aside some time this weekend to just sit here and press some buttons for a while. Gutz deserves that much of my time, and that much of yours.
This was a wonderful game. I will be there for tomorrow’s 9 innings, and I’d love to see more of the same. Tonight was proof of how well this team can do with the proper lineup, and how much fun winning can be when the boys really want to. Well played, men; well-played.