With seven games – including today’s – left in their remarkably resurgent season, the Seattle Mariners are aware they could see that season lose it’s luster if they don’t win at least two more times.
“I think 81 wins and a .500 season is on everyone’s mind,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We worked so hard, played so well all season, that to not finish at .500 it would feel like it was all for naught.
“We’re trying to finish strong, win every game we can and see what the final number is, but getting this 81st means a lot to the players. I think when a team loses 101 games one year, to put together a winning season the next is an accomplishment.
“It’s a positive first step toward where you want to be.”
Today, the Mariners will make their third try at win No. 81 in their final road game of the season.
It’s Ryan Rowland-Smith vs. Brian Tallet.
Mariners have four hits today, two of them by Kenji Johjim and his second left the ball park. On a 1-1 pith from Tallet in the fifth inning, Johjima homered.
Five pitches later, rookie Matt Tuiasosopo homered to left field, the first of his career. For those who aren’t keeping track, Tuiasosopo is the 21st different player to hit a home run for the team this season – tying the club record.
With two outs, Franklin Gutierrez hit his 18th home run.
In the fifth: Mariners 3, Blue Jays 0
Aussie on a roll
Sounds tasty! Rowland-Smith has been brilliant through five innings, getting 15 outs with an economical 63 pitches – and allowing the Blue Jays one hit.
He’s bouncing back from a five-inning start in Tampa last week when he needed 113 pitches to get that far and got a no-decision in Seattle’s victory.
Rowland-Smith is 4-3 this season and trying to prove he deserves a berth in the 2010 Seattle rotation. Starts like this build his case.
A Toronto rally
The Blue Jays seem most dangerous when behind, and they got a one-out single, then a double to put runners at second and third base for catcher Rod Barrajas.
Barrajas flied deep to center field, scoring a run and getting Randy Ruiz to third. On his 97th pitch, Rowland-Smith got a looping line drive to th right of shortstop Josh Wilson, and when Wilson couldn’t field it, Ruiz scored.
After seven: Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2
Homer time II
Why stop at three home runs? The Mariners got a fourth when Mike Sweeney went deep against reliever Brian Wolfe. It was Sweeney’s eighth of the season.
In the eighth: Mariners 4, Blue Jays 2
Fan appreciation day here in Toronto, and the Blue Jays have gone all out. Each of the 39,052 in attendance today got their own little fleece blanket – with the image of outfielder Alex Rios on it.
Rios was sent to the Chicage White Sox last month.
That would be like coming to Safeco Field next weekend and getting your very own Yuniesky Betancourt coffee mug.
Here comes Toronto
Scrappy little Blue Jays!
Rowland-Smith tried to get through the eighth inning, and Toronto took quick advantage – a double by John McDonald, a single to Jose Bautista and the Jays had a run.
Aaron Hill walked, and that was that for Rowland-Smith, relieved by Miguel Batista. Easy to see why the Mariners tried to get eight innings from Rowland-Smith. Neither Mark Lowe nor Shawn Kelley is available today, and David Aardsma doesn’t have a two-inning save all season.
With the game on the line – two on, no one out, one-run lead – Edwin Encarnacion took a called third strike. Vernon Wells struck out. Adam Lind, pinch-hitting for Ruiz, singled to tie the game.
Barajas doubled to push home the go-ahead run and put runners on second and third base.
All the runs are charged to Rowland-Smith.
After eight: Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4
And in the ninth
Matched against right-hander Shawn Camp, Tuiasosopo struck out on three pitches. Batting for Wilson, Ken Griffey Jr. singled, and Michael Saunder pinch-ran for Junior.
Ichiro grounded into a force play – snapping a streak of 180 games in which he had not gone hitless in back-to-back games.
With the crowd on its fee, Gutierrez flied out.
It’s a final: Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4