The M's get one!
The M’s get one!
Saturday the 17th of July was one of those Puget Sound summer days the Chamber of Commerce drools about. Sunny, lovely blue sky, a cloud thrown in here and there, near the horizon, for accent purposes. To us, a warm temperature of about 70 degrees. To quote the MacKenzie Brothers “Beauty, eh?”
So was I going to stay inside and watch the Mariner baseball game? The answer is no. Before I go any farther, I want the readers of this blog, whoever you may be, to understand this doesn’t mean I’m a fair weather Mariner fan or no longer love baseball. Au Contraire, mon ami.
In this season of huge disappointments I can pick and choose when to give my time to the team. After all, how many times do I have to see a base running mistake to know something is wrong with the mindset of the players? Since the M’s are decidedly out of the running for everything except a high draft choice I can do other things and check in now and them to see if anything good is happening in the game. Check in I did in the ninth and tenth innings and was rewarded with an M’s win.
The game yesterday was a perfect example of this team’s performance so far this season. They got fine pitching by Mariner starter Jason Vargas. He yielded only a solo homer in the second, and the hitters provided no real offense to support him, notwithstanding the fact the Angel pitcher, Ervin Santana, they saw is a good one. The M’s just don’t seem to be able to put together any kind of sustained offensive production no matter who is on the mound against them.
This game was no different. Pushing across a run due to a wild pitch in the fifth was the best they could offer to match the Angels. And Vargas stood firm, matching Santana into the 8th inning. After striking out a hitter in the bottom of the 8th for the second out, and establishing a career high strike out game of 9, the Mariner brain trust pulled him. The reliever, Brandon League, immediately gave up a single, putting a runner on third. A runner that reached base on an error by Figgins who is having a terrible (by his and my standards) debut year here in Seattle. But then he was able to get the always dangerous Bobby Abreau for the third out and thus the team escaped a close call.
The ninth passed uneventfully for both teams. The tenth started with some promise. Ichiro was walked and Figgins laid down a nice sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Then that mindset I referred to struck again.
Standing on second is Ichiro, a veteran player of baseball. Ichiro, a student of the game, knows as much about the history and strategy of baseball as anyone. That’s why it’s so frustrating and mystifying to see him break for third on a ball hit in front of him by the splendidly named Franklin Gutierrez, as he did in the tenth. And get tagged out in the ensuing rundown. To make matters worse, the rundown didn’t last long enough for Gutierrez to make it to second.
Fortunately for Ichiro and for all of us armchair managers Mr. Gutierrez was able to steal second and demonstrate why baseball is such a wonderful game. The throw from the catcher beat him to the bag. However the fielder had to reach up to catch it and in the split second it took to bring the ball down and make the tag was all Gutierrez needed to touch second ahead of the tag. So in forcing the defense to make a perfect play the M’s now had another runner in scoring position. They were in the same spot they’d be if Ichiro hadn’t run into the tag play; man on second and two outs.
And Jose Lopez provided a clutch single to score the fleet footed Gutierrez and give the M’s a 2-1 lead going into the home half of the tenth.
Naturally Aardsma gets the call to come out and save it, and while David has good numbers for a closer, still manages to make it interesting. He got the final two outs with strikeouts while there were two men on.
So I was prepared to blog about how the M’s could have won but for another mental mistake. Now I can say they DID win despite a mental mistake.
Now get out there and take one for the team!