Final score: Mariners 9, Blue Jays 5
I have no idea where to even begin. After missing only two games on the opening homestand, I was forced to follow the Detroit series almost solely via updates on my phone and Twitter. East coast trips are tough – it had been almost a week since I had seen an actual pitch. With this game starting at 4:05, I was able to catch the last few innings. I started watching the game in the seventh inning and, let’s be honest, that’s when the action really started.
Sure, Ricky Romero took a no-hitter into the sixth. Sure, Blake Beavan was mediocre, giving up a second inning homerun to Edwin Encarnacion and a total of seven hits through 5.2 innings. In the top of the seventh, the Mariners were down 3-5. Montero led the inning off with a solo shot to left field and Miguel Olivo continued his luke-warm streak with a hit in his fifth straight game. Casper Wells doubled to drive Olivo in and tie the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, to say that the Blue Jays threatened would be an understatement. Erasmo Ramirez started by hitting J.P. Arencibia. A sacrifice bunt allowed Arencibia to second base and with two outs, Adam Lind came up to face new pitcher Steve Delabar. Lind laced a single to right field and Arencibia did what many others had regretted since 2001: he tested Ichiro. Ichiro, of course, threw a perfect strike to Miguel Olivo at home plate to preserve the tie and to end the inning.
Tom Wilhelmsen entered in the bottom of the eighth and did not look like the Tom Wilhelmsen we are used to seeing. He left a ball up that Eric Thames drilled for a go-ahead homerun and let another run score, bringing Toronto’s lead to 5-3 and forcing the Mariners to go into the ninth against Francisco Cordero. Even after all of the excitement leading to the ninth, nothing could have prepared anybody watching for what was about to happen.
Alex Liddi led off the inning with a quick flyout but Michael Saunders followed with a long homerun to bring the Mariners within one. Miguel Olivo popped out, which brought Kyle Seager to the plate.
The game was over. Kyle Seager hit the most routine of ground balls to Rookie of the Year candidate Brett Lawrie, who promptly threw over to Adam Lind for the final out of the game. Except the throw was offline and Lind was unable to pick it, giving the Mariners one more chance.
With Ackley at the plate, Munenori Kawasaki pinch-ran for Seager and had one of the bigger leads I’ve seen a player take in a while. Cordero was obviously bothered and threw over to first base a couple of times, but Kawasaki was able to make it back to the bag. Eventually Cordero threw some pitches, but the catcher Arencibia became bothered. So bothered that he threw over to first base, but so flustered that he didn’t even bother throwing it to the first baseman. The ball sailed into right field, allowing Kawasaki to stroll into third base. With first base now empty, the Blue Jays elected to walk Ackley, bringing up Brendan Ryan. Or so they thought.
Little did they know the Mariners have a secret weapon. So secret, in fact, that he has barely played this year but has come through with some clutch hits in key situations. John Jaso came on to pinch hit for Ryan and with two strikes singled to center. Colby Rasmus dove for the ball and missed, but a fortunate bounce off of Rasmus’ bare hand kept the ball in front of him. Ackley tried to score from first but was gunned down at the plate. The damage had been done, however, and a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth brought the game into extra innings.
Ichiro led off the inning with a groundout but was followed by consecutive singles from Justin Smoak, Montero and Liddi. With the bases loaded, Michael Saunders launched his second homerun of the night over Jose Bautista’s head, putting the nail in the coffin of the Blue Jays’ chances. The Mariners took the game by a final score of 9-5.
This was the kind of game that makes you really believe in a team. After last week’s offensive ineptitude, the Mariners have completely turned themselves around, and if only for four days, these Mariners are some of the hottest hitters in baseball. This game was probably the best comeback by the Mariners since last April 11th, a game in which they came back from a six run deficit against, who else, the Blue Jays.
I don’t know if the Mariners will keep this up or if they will revert back to a 3-runs-per-game-if-they’re-lucky team. What I do know, however, is that my eyes will be glued to the TV tomorrow as they try to make it five in a row.
Next game: vs. Blue Jays | April 28 | 1:07 pm