The Seattle Mariners have a history of finishing strong, hard as that may be to believe – and if they win tonight, they guarantee a winning season.
Since 1995, the team has winning percentage of .622 in the final home stand of the season, a span of 90 games.
Counting the game tonight, Seattle will get one final turn through the rotation which, at the moment, is Brandon Morrow, Doug Fister, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Felix Hernandez.
How many will be starters in April, 2010?
The Mariners (81-76) vs. the Athletics (75-82). And we’re off.
Junior does it again
Oakland pitcher Clay Mortenson gave up singles to Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez, got an out and then fell behind Ken Griffey Jr. in the count, 2-0.
Junior then made Mr. Mortenson the 406th different victim of his home run swing – hitting his 18th of the year and 629th of his career.
That’s two three-run home runs in the past two nights. If he’s going out, Junior’s going out in style.
Mortenson may not be long for this game – after the home run he allowed a single to Adrian Beltre, then hit Kenji Johjima with a pitch.
Jack Hannahan doubled home another run.
After one: Mariners 4, Athletics 0
More from the Mariners
After batting around in the first inning, Seattle is back for more.
Ichiro tripled and Gutierrez singled him home for his 67th RBI – then went all the way to third base on Mortenson’s errant pickoff attempt.
On Mortenson’s 55th and final pitch, Lopez doubled home his 93rd RBI. Brad Kilby came on in relief.
In the second: Mariners 6, Athletics 0
After being hit in the elbow in the first inning, Kenji Johjima has left the game, replaced by Adam Moore.
With Rob Johnson nursing an ankle injury and Johjima now out with the elbow, Moore is the only healthy catcher on staff.
Mr. Morrow’s fastball
Morrow hasn’t had much luck with his off-speed pitches, but his fastball – anywhere from 92 to 96 mph so far – has dominated Oakland.
One time through the lineup, Morrow hasn’t allowed a hit or base runner and has struck out five.
Throwing only fastballs is a one-dimensional approach, and Morrow will continue to try to mix his pitches. Without command of them, however, a 96 mph fastball isn’t a bad Plan B.
A new club record
Adam Moore’s two out solo home run was the first of his career, and he’ll got into the Seattle record books with it.
Moore became the 22nd player on the team this season to hit a home run – breaking the previous record, set in 1983 and matched in 1998.
The American League record is 24 players.
After four: Mariners 7, Athletics 0
Five and ….
Morrow has gotten through five innings with a big lead, one hit allowed and 61 pitches thrown. He hasn’t gone deeper than six innings all season – and hasn’t done that since July 5.
If he can’t do that tonight, it may be more a mental block than a physical one.
Morrow has been a force of nature tonight through seven innings, allowing just one hit – an infield single – while striking out nine and not issuing a walk.
This is beyond just his best start of the year, it’s the kind of game that will make Don Wakamatsu and Rick Adair think a little differently about Morrow in the off-season.
Morrow and The Wall
Two outs into the eighth inning, matching the longest start of his career, Morrow hit the wall.
He walked back-to-back hitters, the last one on four pitches, then fell behind Cliff Pennington, 2-0.
The end? No, with his 106th pitch, he got a fly ball to end the inning.
That’s eight innings, one hit, no runs and a career-best nine strikeouts. That’ll work, kid.
In the eighth: Mariners 7, Athletics 0
In the ninth
Shawn Kelley in to finish for Morrow. Kelley got a fly ball, a strikeout and, after a single, struck out Jack Cust.
It’s a final: Mariners 7, Athletics 0