John Jaso clutch hit
As you can see by my little youtube clip above I went to the game tonight down at the chilly Safe. After finally maneuvering through the viaduct mess (seems like it changes every day there) I grabbed a ticket off a scalper for $25 and sat down with a small frozen group of my fellow fans. This one started off as a pitchers duel between Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas until the bottom of the fourth inning when Ichiro broke the ice with a single. Ichiro stole second while Montero went down setting the stages for the Mariners young phenom Kyle Seager.
While I don’t claim to be much when it comes to modern statistics I do know when a guy has a sweet swing and Kyle Seager certainly does. He seems to have added a little hitch in the offseason which if done right allows a hitter to level out their swing and drive the ball on a consistent basis. Seager has found his groove and when he came to the plate I felt myself feeling something I haven’t in a long time when a Mariners comes up….Confidence. And sure enough Seager delivered with a bullet that hit off the right field fence to easily score Ichiro and put us up 1-0.
Meanwhile this was a vintage Jason Vargas outing as the lefty kept the powerful Tigers off-balance all night allowing only one run in the sixth thanks to some nifty glovework by SS Brendan Ryan who had a hell of a night on defense robbing the Tigers of hits on at least three notable plays.
Of course pitching and defense will only get you so far even at frigid Safeco Field so this one was tense until the eighth inning. Michael Saunders came into pinch-hit for Casper Wells the ex-Tiger in the eighth and delivered a leadoff double down the left field line before being pushed to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt by the veteran Chone Figgins. John Jaso was batting leadoff tonight and was the guy you wanted up there with the game on the line as he delivered a 2-strike line shot to left to score Saunders in what would prove to be the winning run. I’m starting to get some confidence when Jaso comes to the plate these days as well which is another nice development in this up and down season.
Brandon League came in to close this one in the ninth and true to his latest form he walked Austin Jackson but Brennon Boesch lined a low drive to Ryan at short who sort of bobbled it then turned it into a double play to end the threat. Score that one Brandon pitch to Brennon lined to Brendan (God I can’t wait til this generation of Brendon, Brandon, Brennan, Justin,Jason grows up!) So we get a day off after a nice 4-2 homestand before heading back to the Bronx where King Felix will take the mound Friday. Rest-up boys things are going to be a little more intense at Yankee Stadium then here at the friendly Safe! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The first eight innings of tonight’s game were as dreary as today’s weather here in Seattle, but the last two innings more than made-up for it as the Mariners mounted a stunning comeback win over the mighty Texas Rangers. The Rangers managed to get a run early off the veteran Kevin Millwood in the first inning, but after that the cagey veteran pitched a great game holding the Texans to the lone run down in the Lone Star state through six innings. Millwood threw 103 pitches tonight fanning seven Rangers using a variety of pitches to keep this one close.
Meanwhile the Mariners offense remained stuck on stupid extending their scoreless streak to 23 innings with a lot of pop-ups and weak swings that made Rangers starter Colby Lewis look better tha he actually was tonight. Things got really depressing in the seventh when Steve Delabar came into the game and surrendered back-to-back homers to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus before Eric Wedge yanked him for lefty Lucas Luetge who struck-out Josh Hamilton to end the bleeding.
John Jaso got his Mariners debut tonight in the DH role and responded with a huge leadoff triple in the top of the eighth and came home on a single by Dustin Ackley to break the scoreless streak at 23 innings and make it a 3-1 game. Luetge handled the Rangers in the bottom of the frame and actually ended-up getting his first win in the Majors after a magical ninth inning rally that was the highlight of the young season as far as I’m concerned.
The Rangers had veteran closer Joe Nathan out on the hill to start the ninth and he just didn’t look like his old self tonight as was evidenced by a leadoff single to Justin Smoak followed by a double to scrappy Kyle Seager. Jesus Montero who got his first start behind the dish tonight then battled Nathan before hitting a deep sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-2. With one out Michael Saunders delivered the biggest hit of his Mariners career a screaming double to right and suddenly we were all tied at 3-3. Saunders then made a gutsy move by swiping third on his own using his tremendous speed and instincts, giving hints of a player who may just blossom into something special this year. Brendan Ryan then went down swinging leaving everything up to John Jaso who then delivered a clutch single to put the Mariners up 4-3 in front of a stunned group of Texas fans who have gotten a little to cocky when our sailors come to town lately.
Of course Brandon League got the ball in the ninth and outside of allowing a single to Mitch Moreland our All-Star closer had his good stuff and got his third save of the year. This game keeps the Mariners over .500 at 4-3 with a chance to get a split in this 4-game series tomorrow before flying home to the friendly crowds at Safeo when Jason Vargas takes the mound at 1105 local time. This game changes the momentum of this young season and has to be a confidence builder for Eric Wedge and his club. As for us fans it gives us a reason to believe that this season may not be a nightmare like the last two..GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com