Every win this season pushes the Mariners further past the memories of 2008, and keeps them in the general conversation about the American League wild card race.
Tonight they have a chance to reach another milestone – win, and they’ll go eight games over .500 for the first time this season.
That’s no small achievement for a team that finished ’08 40 games under .500.
On the mound is Seattle’s left-handed tank, Ryan Rowland-Smith, an Aussie who wins and loses but will not be beaten. As tough as anyone in the rotation, he often dominates a lineup on sheer will.
It’s Rowland-Smith vs. Clayton Mortenson, a right-hander without resume.
Jack’s big hit
Jack Wilson hadn’t had a big hit for the Mariners until he came up with two outs and the bases loaded.
He’d hit a two-run home run late in a game when it didn’t matter. Other than that? Nothing really.
This time, Wilson singled up the middle to drive home two runs, getting Ichiro to the plate – and Ichiro singled to produce a third run. That was Ichiro’s 190th hit of the season.
Franklin Gutierrez singled Wilson home. Four runs, all scored with two outs.
In the second: Mariners 4, Athletics 0
Oakland fights back
Ryan Sweeney led off with a double to right center field and, with one out, Adam Kennedy grounded down the third base line for an RBI double.
After three: Mariners 4, Athletics 1
Pitching, pitching, pitching
The Mariners haven’t been able to add on against Mortenson, but Oakland hasn’t done a thing with Rowland-Smith, either.
Since the third-inning double that scored a run, Rowland-Smith has retired seven Athletics in a row and gotten the Mariners through five innings.
He’s thrown 72 pitches and has been in complete control.
In the sixth: Mariners 4, Athletics 1
Now, it’s a game
Scott Hairson legged out an infield single when shortstop Wilson slipped on damp grass, and Nomar Garciaparra unloaded on Rowland-Smith’s 86th pitch – turning into a two-run h ome run.
The bullpen was stirring, but Rowland-Smith got out of the inning with a lead, albeit a small one.
After seven: Mariners 4, Athletics 3
Last night it was a late squeeze that added an insurance run. Tonight?
After Bill Hall’s one-out single, Wakamatsu put the hit-and-run on, and rookie Mike Carp singled into right field to get Hall to third base.
Kenji Johjima flied to center, getting Hall home for a two-run lead.
In the eighth: Mariners 5, Athletics 3
Rowland-Smith got through eight innings for the second time in his career – and the second time in his last two starts. Mark Lowe is warming up and will start the Oakland ninth.
Jose Lopez has given the Mariners an insurance run wih his 21st home run of the year.
In the ninth: Mariners 6, Athletics 3
And in the end …
Lowe on the mound for the save because David Aardsma had pitched in each of the last three games.
Ground ball. Fly ball. Single. Fly ball.
That’s Lowe’s second save of the season, the Mariners 72nd win.
It’s a final: Mariners 6, Athletics 3