PHEW! Crisis averted. A sweep would have hurt. Now we are 3-3 against our bitter rivals and sit only 2 games back in the standings. Not too shabby considering we are weathering injuries to all-star closer JJ Putz and ace pitcher Erik Bedard. Never mind the batting struggles of guys like Johjima and Wilkerson.Miguel Batista was a magician in this game. He pitched into the 8th inning and he was solid. If it hadn't been for his pitch count they probably would have left him out there to finish what he started. 7,2 innings, 8 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. He was a warrior out there. 7+ innings from your number 5 starter is as good as it can get. If he can put up more performances like this the Mariners are in for a great season on the mound. If healthy we have one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball. If the Mariners make the playoffs they will have a rotation that could compete with any in baseball. It is nights like this that Batista shows his worth to this team.
The bullpen nearly blew this one. Arthur Rhodes came in after Batista left the game in the 7th inning and struck out the only batter he faced to end the inning. With a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th the Mariners sent out Mark Lowe to close things down. He didn't do so well. He walked the first two batters he faced by throwing 8 straight balls. I nearly popped a blood vessel when they decided to leave him out there to face the next batter. Luckily he struck him out and the got SS Aybar to hit a high chopper off the mound which Lowe eventually caught and threw him out. 2 down and 2 on. Lowe then proceeded to walk Chone Figgins to load the bases. Apparently 3 walks in the inning was not enough to have Lowe removed from the game. They decided to leave him in there for yet ANOTHER batter. That batter was Gary Matthews Jr and he hit a 2 run single into right field. 4-2 ball game with big Vlad Guerrero at the plate. Guerrero is a Mariners killer and the LAST man you want to see at the plate with a chance to win or tie a ball game. Brandon Morrow was brought in from the bullpen to face Vlad. He didn't fare much better than Lowe as he walked Vlad to load the bases. YIKES! Bases loaded, 2 out, Anderson at the plate. McLaren made the move to bring lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith in from the bullpen to try and put an end to the game once and for all. It took 11 pitches but RRS finally got Anderson looking at a slider and FINALLY the game was over. I can't wait till JJ is off the DL and back so we can stop having fits every time we have a lead going into the 9th.
The highlight offensively on the night was another home run by Richie Sexson. He hit a 2 run shot in the 2nd inning to give the M's a 2-0 lead. He is really hitting the ball well right now and needs only 1 more home run for 300 in his career. The other two RBI's of the game went to Ichiro and Lopez. Wilkerson didn't score any runs but he did have 2 doubles in the game. Could be a big confidence booster for him.
Mariners are back home for a 6 game home stand. First up is a 3 game set against the Orioles. The Mariners will be eager to seek revenge after the Orioles swept them in a 4 game series near the beginning of the season. Felix will take the mound in game 1 opposite Jeremy Guthrie.