Lefty Cliff Lee has a 2-2 record but has pitched extraordinarily well all season without much help.
How well can he have pitched with a 3.44 earned run average? Consider this: In 36 2/3 innings this year, Lee has allowed one walk – and no home runs.
Now comes the hard part. Can Seattle score behind him against Scott Kazmir and an up-and-down Angels bullpen?
Patient teams can usually get Kazmir out of a game on a high pitch count by the sixth inning, so expect to see the Mariners try to work the count tonight.
It’s Lee vs. Kazmir.
- Work that count indeed! Seattle went down on 11 pitches in the first inning. Kazmir barely broke a sweat.
- A one-out walk to Howie Kendrick – Lee’s second of the season – was followed by Bobby Abreu’s single, putting runners at first and third base. Torii Hunter hit a comebacker, but Lee kicked it, picked it up and threw well wide of home for an error. Kendrick scored and Hunter took second base. Kendry Morales grounded out, Abreu scoring. Juan Rivera flied out. After one: Los Angeles 2, Seattle 0.
- Work that count, indeed. With Mike Sweeney and Jose Lopez working the counts full, the Mariners still only made Kazmir throw 13 pitches in the second inning. At this pace, 100 pitches will get him into the eighth.
- Ichiro singled with two out and Chone Figgins drew a walk to push the first Mariner into scoring position. Franklin Gutierrez singled, Ichiro scoring Guti’s club-leading 23rd RBI. Milton Bradley singled home two runs, with Gutierrez scoring all the way from first base. The Mariners not only scored, they made Kazmir throw 29 pitches in the inning. In the third: Seattle 3, Los Angeles 2.
- Lopez homered, his second. Big game? Texas lost tonight, so if the Mariners win they cut their American League West deficit to 6 1/2 games – and just 2 1/2 behind the third-place Angels. In the fourth: Seattle 4, Los Angeles 2.
- Lee walked another batter – that’s two tonight! – but has struck out six in four innings. He’s struck out five of the six hitters he’s faced since he was given a lead. The man smells a win.
- Ichiro singled and Figgins doubled, with Ichiro scoring and Figgins taking third on a fielding error by Juan Rivera. Bradley flied out, scoring Figgins. In the fifth: Seattle 6, Los Angeles 2.
- The Angels pushed home a run, but Lee struck out three more hitters and now has nine strikeouts tonight – two short of his career high. After five: Seattle 6, Los Angeles 3.
- One out into the sixth inning, after a Casey Kotchman bloop single – Seattle’s eighth hit – Kazmir is done. Now pitching: Trevor Bell.
- The whiffing continues. Since being handed a 3-2 lead in the top of the third inning, Lee has struck out nine men and now has 10 for the night. That matches his Seattle best. Through six: Seattle 6, Los Angeles 3.
- Mr. Lee has gone seven innings on 96 pitches and clearly wants another. Bet he’ll get the chance.
- That’s eight innings for Lee and 114 pitches, and that’s probably all he’s going to get tonight. David Aardsma is warming up.
- Rob Johnson led off the top of the ninth with a double, then scored on Josh-not-Jack Wilson’s double. Ichiro was hit by a pitch. Figgins walked, loading ‘em up. Gutierrez singled, Wilson scoring. Ichiro was held at third, and Figgins arrived right behind him, forcing Ichiro into a run down. Oops. Bradley struck out. Sweeney grounded out. In the ninth: Seattle 8, Los Angeles 3.
- Shawn Kelley in to close it. It’s a final: Seattle 8, Los Angeles 3.