Mike Sweeney is unavailable today but won’t go on the disabled list – at least not immediately.
Jose Lopez is available, but not starting. With a break today and tomorrow’s scheduled off-day, that will give him two days off the field to rest tired legs.
Which brings us to the game – Erik Bedard vs. Trevor Cahill – and the Mariners need to win to avoid a sweep before flying to Anaheim.
Ichiro is leading off and has a 20-game hitting streak, wich is the eighth longest in franchise history. As intriguing, it’s the seventh streak Ichiro has had of 20 games or longer, and that’s historic.
Only three men in baseball history – Willie Keeler, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose – have had more streaks of 20 or more games.
Looking for a wild card hero? Franklin Gutierrez is battin .295 this month with 10 RBI and 10 walks.
The Mariners need more than heroics. What they need is an offense. And they’ve only got until 12:37 p.m. to find one.
Game time approaches.
The streak lives
Seven pitches in, Ichiro has a 21-game hitting strea, doubling off the chalk down the left field line. As Yuniesky Betancourt squared to bunt – then stepped back – Ichiro stole third.
Betancourt popped out.
With the Oakland infield brought in – yes, in the first inning! – Adrian Beltre grounded to third base. Ichiro was forced to hold. With two outs, Ken Griffey Jr. struck out on a changeup.
Clearly, Icihro should have stolen home.
Mariners break through
Russell Branyan singled to start the second inning and, one out later, Rob Johnson doubled him to third base.
Endy Chavez grounded out, pushing one run home. Gutierrez was called out for running inside the baseline, negating a second run.
Clearly, Johnson should have stolen home.
In the second: Mariners 1, Athletics 0
One swing, tie game
After leaving runners at third base twice in the first two innings, the Mariners paid a price.
After two: Mariners 1, Athletics 1
Johnson walked and, one out later, Gutierrez doubled him to third base.
Up came Betancourt, the least patient of all Mariners hitters. On a 1-1 pitch, he broke his bad on an inside pitch and grounded out.
In the fifth: Mariners 1, Athletics 1
One swing, two runs
OK, forget this silliness about stealing home – just get Branyan up there more often.
Now, is three runs enough for Bedard and the bullpen?
Chavez tripled off the wall in right field to open the seventh, and the Athletics brought their infield in yet again.
Betancourt worked the count to 3-1, then flied deep enough to left to chase Chavez home with Seattle’s fourth run.
In the seventh: Mariners 4, Athletics 1
Sean White handed over 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief, and the Mariners are in the ninth inning with a lead.
Good Lord, another rally!
Closer David Aardsma was warming up, and Seattle sent the bottom of its batting order to the plate.
Chavez then laid down a perfect bunt, moving Johnson to third with no one out. Gutierrez douled both runners home.
Beltre flied out into a double play, with Gutierrez thrown out at the plate.
It’s a final: Mariners 6, Athletics 1