The sweep of the Tigers pleased me greatly, I just didn’t have time to write about it. I was able to listen to yesterday’s game on the radio at work, though. I find that if I set the portable radio off to the side of my desk and turn it a certain way, I can get decent reception. There is still a high-pitched airwave whine just under the sound of game, and if I try and take it with me anywhere else on my floor the reception is hit-or-miss depending on where I’m standing, but I can indeed listen to the day games at work. I feel like I’ve eaten a bunch of sand after it’s over, but I can do it.
Tigers players suffered for their crime of allowing a sweep. Adam Wilk was sent down to their Triple A affiliate literally minutes after losing to Felix Hernandez. Yesterday, Brandon Inge got cut from the roster entirely. And this morning, it came to light that Delmon Young decided to get drunk last night and physically assault, allegedly, a Jewish panhandler, in what is being called a possible hate crime. I would never have thought that the Mariners would have the ability to cause such chaos for other teams. Feel the power of .500! The Mariners batting lineup, for its part, has been exhibiting a little power and a a lot more contact, which is great to see. Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo both took some chunks out of Rick Porcello yesterday, to the delighted surprise of just about everyone on Twitter (I fire the internet up at work for the important plays, sure) me included. It was a nice series to see, especially considering the amount of anger that seems to have been building up in the fanbase everywhere lately. I sometimes get the feeling that Mariners fans are always looking for a reason to be angry with everything the team does. Can’t be angry at a sweep. We needed it.
Tonight’s series opener with the Jays in Toronto started off a little slow. Granted I was focused on elevating my knee (I’ve re-aggravated my hyperextension again) and checking Twitter and trying to catch up on email, but outside of a little well-played small ball to score our first run in the third, it was just another low-scoring game. When the Ms tied things up in the top of the 7th, I perked up a bit more. We went through three pitchers in the bottom of that inning, in an attempt to keep the Blue Jays at bay. There was a lot of pressure put on all three of them, and whan Lucas Luetge gave up a line drive to Adam Lind with two out, I figured the inning was as good as done in the Jays’ favor. But that line drive went to Ichiro, who easily fielded it, then shipped it all the way to Miguel Olivo, who dove out of his way to tag JP Arencibia out just as he was making a wide slide into home. Yeah, it’s only one play; but nobody makes that play like Ichiro Suzuki, and it’s the kind of thing that puts just a bit of frosting on the cupcake of Miguel Olivo. I think I have just officially run out of metaphors.
Tom Wilhelmsen was our final pitcher in the 8th inning, but his wheels came off pretty quickly, and the Jays managed two runs off of him. Francisco Cordero took over the closing game for Toronto, and Michael Saunders, surviving off the taunts of the Canadian crowd, too him long out to center field to seal the score up a little bit and make it a one-run game. Miguel Olivo didn’t exercise the same patience that Saunders did, and got two swinging strikes before popping out over left field. Kyle Seager replaced Casper Wells, and it looked like the game might be over as he lined out to third base. But a throwing error granted him the bag, keeping the game alive. Munenori Kawasaki came out to pinch run for Seager, and Cordero played a little cat-and-mouse for a while, trying to pick him off while Dustin Ackley patiently waited. The whole situation seemed to jangle the Jays. JP Arencibia caught a pitch and tried to pick Kawasaki off from the plate, but wound up overthrowing by a great deal, and Kawasaki took great advantage of it, racing all the way to third base. Cordero instead decided to simply put Ackley on base.
With two outs and men at the corners, John Jaso came to the plate. Jaso put the 6th pitch he saw into play, right into what should have been the waiting glove of Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus dove when he maybe shouldn’t have, though, and the ball went under his glove and bounced off his throwing hand. This resulted in Kawasaki scoring to tie it. Dustin Ackley was sent home by third base coach Jeff Datz, but was gunned out at the plate by cutoff man Kelly Johnson at second. Little Charlie Furbush took care of the Blue Jays in order. He had to do it with 20 pitches, since Edwin Encarnacion put up such a fight, but he still did it.
Extra frames gave the Mariners a chance to load the bases with one out by hitting everything through the gap in left field.
And then it happened.
Michael Saunders, weary of being bullied the entire game by a stadium full of his countrymen, took a Luis Perez slider, the fourth pitch he saw, over the wall in right field! Everyone goes home, including most of the Jays’ fans, who left their seats and headed for the exits en masse. Game at 9-5, Mariners. And it was not over yet.
Brandon League threw 8 pitches. Then it was over.
I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to think about this game when it started. This team looked like an entirely different team than the one that got perfecto’d by Phil Humber last week. There was plate patience, there were singles, there was power hitting; it’s like last week’s Mariners don’t exist any more. I’m not ready to cast doubt to the wind just yet, but this was an impressive game; and I would have said the same thing even without the win. If the team keeps this style of play up, the rest of this year is going to be a lot more fun to watch. Well done, boys, well done!