Oakland and Los Angeles have won, Texas lost, so as Lou Piniella used to say, it behooves the Seattle Mariners to win what would be their third consecutive game tonight.
Do it and they climb to within six games of the lead in the American League West.
Standing in their way? The first-place Minnesota Twins and five-game winner Carl Pavano.
Felix Hernandez will try to win his third game of the season, in his 12th start, and the key may be how he does against the heart of the Twins lineup – Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome.
Surprisingly, perhaps, veteran Thome is 6-for-10 against Felix with three home runs and six RBI. And Mauer? He’s batting .626 with two home runs against Hernandez.
Mariners Franklin Gutierrez, Casey Kotchman, Rob Johnson, Jose Lpez, Josh Wilson and Michael Saunders are all in the starting lineup tonight – and none of them has ever faced Pavano.
- The M&M Boys did it again. Joe Mauer doubled with two outs and Justin Morneau singled him home with a shot up the middle that left Felix lying on the mound on his back. Yikes! In the first: Minnesota 1, Seattle 0.
- Ichiro walked, Chone Figgins sacrificed him to second and, as Franklin Gutierrez struck out on a 2-2- pitch, Ichiro stole third. Jose Lopez grounded out. That’s 14 stolen bases for Ichiro, another missed opportuniy for the Mariners.
- Tip of the cap to Casey Kotchman: His second inning assist gave him the major league record for consecutive errorless chances by a first baseman – 2,003. He hasn’t made an error in 230 straight games.
- Michael Saunders doubled, then stole third – Seattle’s third steal tonight. Ichiro singled Saunders home. Ichiro stole second with one out, then third base. Gutierrez walked. Lopez homered, his fourth. After three: Seattle 4, Minnesota 1.
- Felix has some filthy stuff working tonight, and he’d retired 11 of the last 12 Twins he’d faced until Thome rolled a single into right field. In the sixth inning: Seattle 4, Minnesota 1.
- Now there’s something you don’t see every day. Felix struck out the side, and when Mauer reached first base after swinging at a wild pitch, Felix buckled down and struck out Morneau. Yes, that’s four strikeouts in the eighth inning, nine for the game.
- Ninth inning. David Aardsma in to pitch. He gets his 12th save in Seattle’s 22nd win, and the Mariners have pulled to within six games of the AL West lead. It’s a final: Seattle 4, Minnesota 1.