The Seattle Mariners pitched a fine game, got a game-tying home run from Justin Smoak in the seventh inning and a game-wininng fly ball from John Jaso in the ninth to beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-2.
The victotry left the Mariners with a 57-64 record – 21-13 since the All-Star break – and left them feeling like winners.
“When you’ve got guys like Felix (Hernandez), Jason Vargas and a bullpen where everybody seems to throw 95 mph-plus, you play a lot of close games,” shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “We’re learning to win those games.”
Vargas went 6 2/3 innings, and despite a few dings, the Mainers bullpen – Josh Kinney, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge and Tom Wilhelmsen – didn’t allow a run the final 2 1/3 innings.
Then, in the ninth inning, Michael Saunders and Brendan Ryan singled and Dustin Ackley walked to load the bases with no one out.
Eric Wedge sent up Jaso, who he’d saved for just this situation.
“We had a pinch-hitting situation in the eighth inning with a man on second and two outs, and Eric (Wedge) used Eric Thames,” Jaso said. “If they send me up, they walk me. Coming off the bench, all you hope for is the chance to get a swing or two in.
“Last year in Tampa, I pinch hit in the sixth inning – the first guy off the bench. This season, I’m being saved for the ninth inning and I think I’m more effective for it.”
Jaso lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, Saunders scored and the Mariners were assured of winning their series against the Twins.