The Darren Brown Mariner Machine kept chugging along tonight, eking out a 6-5 win over the suddenly beleaguered-looking Orioles. This one was again won in no small part by Matt Tuiasosopo, who hit a massive three-run homer in the second inning to help the M’s respond to the two runs the Orioles scored in the first. He also saved what would surely have been an RBI double by Matt Wieters to tie the game in the eighth and shift the momentum firmly in the Orioles’ favor.
M’s starter David Pauley had a rough start to the game, walking leadoff man Brian Roberts on four pitches, then giving up a single to Nick Markakis that left Roberts at third after he’d stolen second. Ty Wigginton grounded into one of the ugliest run-down plays you’ll ever see: the ball was hit right to Jose Lopez at third, who smartly threw the ball home to try and get the lead runner. Roberts turned right around and charged back to third, so Adam Moore threw the ball back to Lopez, who completely whiffed on the tag as Roberts turned around and ran again. Lopez tossed the ball to Pauley, who was finally able to get Roberts out, but Markakis had gone to third in the action, and Wigginton stood at second. Luke Scott would bring them both home with an RBI single, and the next pitch would hit Adam Jones in the elbow to put Pauley right back into trouble. Fortunately, Felix Pie ground into a double play to get the M’s out of the inning, but the damage was done.
Luckily for the M’s, Tui still had some of his magic from last night’s game, as he crushed a 2-1 slider that hung up in the zone, and it landed about five rows back into the left field stands in the second inning. Pauley was able to use that and two more runs in the fifth to get things right again, and leaning heavily on his curveball, he was able to get through the sixth inning without too much incident. (The link is to a story on Far From Port that Harrison wrote a couple of days ago breaking Pauley’s performance down a bit, and specifically looking at his curve)
The seventh inning, however, was a different story. Felix Pie lead off, and Pauley threw him two changeups, one out of the zone, and one right in the middle of it. The second was rapped for a single that Guti just couldn’t get to. Matt Wieters worked a 3-1 count, and got a fastball in the zone that wound up somewhere in the right field bleachers to bring the O’s within a run. Pauley was visibly angry for giving up the blast, and it would be his last pitch of the night as Darren Brown summoned Jamey Wright out of the bullpen. Wright would get two big strikouts to get out of the inning, and the M’s would spot him another run in the top of the 8th, thanks in part to some gutsy baserunning by pinch-runner Ryan Langerhans.
Wright would, of course, bring the game back within one in grand and typically Mariner fashion. He gave up a double to Luke Scott, who then advaced to third on a balk, then scored when Wright threw a wild pitch to Adam Jones… which also happened to be ball four, so Jones was trotting to first as Scott was sprinting across home plate. That would be the end of Jamey Wright in this game, as Sean White entered to finish out the eighth luckily painlessly thanks to the spectacular catch by Tui out in left.
David Aardsma came into the game in the ninth to try for the save, and in typical David Aardsma fashion, it was not without drama. Cesar Izturis (one of the just two batters in all of baseball with a worse wOBA than Jose Lopez) singled, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. DA then decided that was when he would bear down, as he absolutely blew away Brian Roberts, then fielded a comebacker from Markakis off his leg, picked it up, and calmly threw the ball over to Kotchman for his 24th save of the season.
After the game, I started to notice that besides the growing outcry for more playing time for Tui (which is a different story and something I’ll address at another time), there’s a growing movement to hire Darren Brown as the Mariners’ full-time manager, not just the interim guy. While just hiring him in lieu of interviewing other candidates is somewhat silly as you don’t want to pass up on someone you could think is better after interviews, I’m not completely object to the idea. Some time in the next couple of days, I’m going to look at the possibility of Brown as the manager in a post on ProBall Northwest, so keep an eye peeled over there to see what I come up with.
Tomorrow is an off-day for the Mariners while they travel all the way to… New York? I guess the Yankees are still playing in Detroit tomorrow, so I guess there’s that. Action resumes Friday, and then Saturday will see Megan and I in Everett to watch the AquaSox take on the Tri Cities Dust Devils, the short-season A team in the Colorado Rockies organization. Should be a fun night!