Seattle Mariners Shine Against No. 1s

IchiroIf there’s one player in all of baseball who can get hits against Texas, he’s on the Mariners – Ichiro knows the Rangers. This season, Ichiro surpassed former 1st place holder George Brett in lifetime hits against the Rangers, and now leads the category with 294. Ichiro wasn’t playing in the Mariners 21-8 romp of them this past week in Arlington – it was his first day off.

21 runs and 20 hits is enough to bring a ball club together. Catcher Jesus Montero, a 22-yr-old rookie, agrees. “That was a big one,” he said. “We did it together, and that was nice. Home runs, doubles, base hits, amazing.” Every starter had a base hit, and almost every starter (aside from Chone Figgins) had an RBI. Highlights of the special 21-run game included 2 3-run home runs by Smoak, home runs by Montero and Ackley, 2 back to back 8-run innings, and 5 hits by Kyle Seager. The 24-yr-old 3rd baseman Seager, who batted 3rd in the lineup in place of Ichiro, had this to say: “If we’re going to take something from this game, it’s just confidence. We were hitting with a lot of confidence up there tonight and hitting is contagious. Once we got on a little roll there, everybody was relaxed. It was just one of those days.”

Manager Eric Wedge, in regard to his team’s performance, said, “You’re seeing a lot of what we’ve been talking about with the potential of these young players. It’s fantastic to see.” The Mariners won the series against Texas, and outscored the AL West number 1 Rangers, 31-11.

But maybe confidence and more base hits isn’t what veteran Ichiro needed. Maybe what the 39-yr-old all-star needed was what manager Eric Wedge gave him – 2 days off and the leadoff spot. Which brings us to Chicago – game 2 against AL Central’s 1st place White Sox – to the 3rd inning, just after Ichiro has hit his 2nd leadoff home run of the game (Ichiro had only 1 home run going into the game). Talk about feeling comfortable in the leadoff role. Those 2 runs would serve to be the spark that led to a 10-8 victory in a marathon 12-inning game behind the Chicago skyline; it was Ichiro’s turn to shine.

The game lasted 12 innings; there were 8 home runs in the game (4 with bigger fireworks displays), and 15 pitchers appeared on the mound. Tom Wilhelmson, pitching 3 scoreless innings toward the end of the game, came away with the win. Center fielder Michael Saunders, who went 4 for 5 with a 2-run home run, commented, “If you could define a team win, it would be what we did today. Both teams used up their entire bullpens, guys did their jobs and came up with clutch hits and Jaso and Figgy won it in the 12th.” In the 12th inning, with 1 out and Montero on 2nd, catcher John Jaso (who has been dubbed Mr. Clutch for repeated heroics), hit a run-scoring double to bring in the 9th run. And in an effort to make up for missed RBI opportunities in Texas, Chone Figgins hit a single to bat Jaso in for the insurance 10th. The win snapped the hot White Sox’s 9-game winning streak.

At the end of the game, the opposing team’s manager, Robin Ventura, also had good things to say about the Mariners. “It was just back and forth,” he said. “They are tough. They won’t go away. They go ahead and we catch them and they go ahead. It’s just one of those games. They are tough to put away.”

Offense was the name of the game this week, as the Mariners finally put away their toothpicks and showed off their slugger bats. They ended up the week splitting on the road with 2 number 1 ball clubs and are in 3rd place in the AL West.

About Arran Gimba