Another game, another pitcher’s duel. Doug Fister not only kept the Marlins runless for 7 innings and change, he also got the 4th hit of the Mariners night, a double to center field. Fister apparently hits opposite-handed, and looks very awkward running his bases (I think mostly because I’m just not used to seeing it). Still, the double led the charge of hits for both Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan, as the bats started heating up against Anibal Sanchez in the top of the 5th inning of this last NL rules game at SafeCo Field. Fister also turned out to be our first run of the game. After an attempted double play on an Adam Kennedy ground-out that only netted an out at second, and with men on the corners, Justin Smoak grounded lightly out to first. But it’s pretty cool that Fister got his run in, especially with the lack of support he’s had this year. Sometimes, you’ve got to take care of the job yourself.
Unfortunately, I did not get to watch last night’s game, but I understand it was for the best, what with the losing and such. I may have said this before, but I am not in the group of people who are anti-interleague play. It wouldn’t kill me if it was gone, but I do find it fun to watch, and it’s nice to be able to watch a handful of teams that I otherwise might not see. And I’ve “discovered” players I like that way – Mark Teixeira, Dan Uggla, Dan Haren…granted, two of those guys are in the AL now, and the other one is having a really bad year, but if it wasn’t for interleague play, I’m not sure how much attention I would have paid them, because they would have just silently passed the AL/NL line to be “the enemy”, rather than a player I might take notice of because of interleague play. I’m not a huge arguer in defense of (or not) the DH position, I just find interleague play fun to watch, and isn’t that why we pay attention?
Things didn’t really heat up until later in the game tonight. Dustin Ackley was cost a double in the top of the 8th by first base umpire Cory Blaser, who actually ran into the grounder while calling it fair. Had the ball not hit Blaser in the ankle, Ackley might have been able to come in at second. But it did, and he wasn’t. With Ackley on at second on a Miguel Olivo ground-out, Marlins reliever Ryan Webb intentionally walked Carlos Peguero to face Franklin Gutierrez, who was at 0 for 3 at that point in the game. It worked: Gutz grounded out to second for the force out on Peguero. With a scant 88 pitches thrown, Doug Fister returned to the bottom of the 8th inning to face Logan Morrison, who he struck out, and next up was none other than Jose Lopez! I wasn’t expecting much from Lopi, but he did manage a base hit over short and into left field. Emilio Bonafacio attempted a short bunt to the left side of the mound, but was thrown out at first by Adam Kennedy . The Marlins manager ran out to argue, but replay showed that, though close, Bonafacio was indeed out. Omar Infante ran up Fister’s pitch count, fouling balls off into the stands until he was able to get one that he liked, and pulled it out to left for a single RBI, tying the game. The crowd murmured their disapproval, the fell mostly silent. Gaby Sanchez was hit with a curve and took his base. The Mariners were able to get Hanley Ramirez to ground into a force out to end what could have turned into a disastrous situation.
RHP Leo Nunez replaced Ryan Webb in the top of the 9th, and immediately walked Mike Carp, who was pinch run for by Chone Figgins. I found myself rooting for Figgins – not for him to not mess up, but actually rooting for him to do well. Ichiro worked the count as the second batter up, but wound up popping up to third. Brendan Ryan took the same path, but towards first. Regardless of what his offensive and defensive issues might be, Figgins is still a threat to steal, and Nunez knew it – he spent most of Adam Kennedy’s at-bat trying to pick Figgins off at first. Nunez should have given more attention to pitching to Kennedy, because he wound up giving Kennedy the base on balls. Justin Smoak was not able to save us, though, and put a ball high in play to second base for the final out.
David Pauley was put into the game in the bottom of the 9th, and had an inning so quick that I barely noticed it. Good for him; it must be nice to take care of an order that quickly after his problems from the other night. Dustin Ackley was the first one up in the top of the 10th, and took his first major league double from Randy Choate, so the Marlins replaced Choate with Steve Cishek, a sidearmer, to deal to Miguel Olivo. Olivo sacrificed a hit to center field, and Ackley tagged up (with a nearly-halfway-down-the-baseline lead!) and skidded safely into third base. With Carlos Peguero at bat, Cishek decided that an intentional walk would be the best strategy, but I don’t think that Cishek might have been having the best night, because his pitches were all over the place – including over their catcher’s left hand, and Ackley took advantage of it and scored to put us ahead.
Brandon League took the mound in the bottom of the 10th inning, which is just weird. One thing for this series – it’s been interesting, but confusing, and I’m glad it has come to a close. League didn’t have any trouble with the Marlins order, and put them away to push through a Mariners win, and his 21st save of the season.
And with that, we are back to .500, and once again in second place. Still doing OK, and headed into a home stand with the Atlanta Braves, who are 44-35 as of tonight’s standings. The Braves have to hit against Bedard, Pineda and Felix. I think part of the excitement that I get from the interleague games is that most of the NL pitchers are an unknown factor to me. It’s not like I can just see that Derek Lowe is pitching and know off the top of my head whether or not we might have trouble against him. In this case, ignorance is bliss. So is sleep, which is where I’m headed. Good night, and go Mariners!