Surely, with the nearly unstoppable Daisuke Matsuzaka facing the eminently hittable Miguel Batista on Tuesday night, the Mariners would have no shot at breaking a seven-game losing streak that has nearly killed their season. But it was a good night for an ironic outcome, as Daisuke limped off the mound in the fifth and Batista pitched seven strong. And despite the three-run Manny bomb that erased a three-run Mariner lead and put a lump in the collective throats of M's fans everywhere, for once the pitching staff was able to put the bad thoughts away and get the job done.
Batista, in particular, was at his best when the Mariners really needed it. Yuniesky Betancourt's error in the sixth led to the Ramirez blast, and the sighs of "here we go again" were palpable throughout Safeco Field. But Batista got it together, getting out of the sixth without further trouble and returning to pitch an uneventful seventh. The Red Sox threatened again in the eighth, with Batista getting lifted after a Dustin Pedroia walk, followed by David Ortiz's single off of Ryan Rowland-Smith. But Brandon Morrow, long thought of as the future difference maker in the Mariner pen, came on to blow away Ramirez and Mike Lowell with 95+ heat, and induced a J.D. Drew lineout to end the inning.
That set the table for the dramatic ending. It started with an infield single from Wladimir Balentien and a well-executed sacrifice by Miguel Cairo (something he is, admittedly, pretty good at). After a Jeremy Reed groundout and an intentional walk to Ichiro, the Sox chose to pitch to Jose Lopez, who lined a ball just past the outstretched glove of Mike Lowell and lifted a Safeco-sized monkey off the M's back. It was nice to see joy for once from a group that has too often looked beaten down, if only for one night.
The Mariners have traded Cha Seung Baek to the Padres for right-hander Jared Wells. Wells is headed to Tacoma.
Geoff Baker has some info on Jared Wells and what M's fans should expect.
Love the latest column from the Portland Tribune's Dwight Jaynes, which uses actual numbers to make an argument. And I like that he's not afraid to entertain the thought that Ichiro Suzuki is one of the most overrated players in baseball (although by some metrics Ichiro is the best player on the team).
Around the Minors
Tacoma got a lead-off home run from Timothy Hulett and three hits from Bryan LaHair in a 3-2 victory in Fresno last night. Hulett's hitting streak is now at 13 games. Jeff Clement left the game after taking a ball off the foot in the sixth inning. Clement is considered day-to-day. Joseph Woerman, who has struggled with his control this year, walked four more batters in 4 2/3 innings but allowed no runs. Woerman came up one out short of being eligible for the win. Jake Woods pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief for the win.
After throwing a complete-game shutout in his last outing, West Tenn's Rich Dorman was named Southern League Pitcher of the Week. Last night, he was nearly as impressive in a 4-1 Diamond Jaxx win at Mississippi. Dorman went seven innings and gave up five hits and one run, walking none and striking out six. For the season, he has 60 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 71 2/3 innings. Mumba Rivera picked up his ninth save for the Jaxx. Adam Moore led the offense with three hits. Johan Limonta had a double and two runs scored.
High Desert fell behind 1-0 before getting a chance to hit and never led en route to a 7-3 loss to Rancho Cucamonga in Adelanto last night. Travis Scott and Jose Yepez each went 2-for-4 for the Mavs. Christopher Minaker scored two of High Desert's three runs. Anderson Garcia continued a rehab assignment and threw 2 1/3 innings as the starter, allowing two hits, two runs, and two walks. He did strike out five. Steven Uhlmansiek had an eventful ninth inning pitching for the Mavs. After walking the first batter, he was called for a balk on a throw to first, which led to the ejection of manager Jim Horner for arguing. Uhlmansiek then promptly picked the runner off of second base, walked another hitter --- and picked him off too.
Wisconsin had the day off, and starts a four-game series at Kane County tonight. One of the strengths of the starting rotation for the Rattlers has been walk rate. All six of the team's starters walk fewer than 3.6 batters per nine innings. Despite somewhat pedestrian numbers in the traditional categories (3-3, 3.51 ERA), Juan Ramirez has been outstanding thus far. He is striking out just under a batter an inning (8.8/9 IP) while keeping a walk rate of 2.5 and a hit rate of 6.8. He has also not allowed a home run all season in 51+ innings of work. His Equivalent ERA of 2.85 is second on the team behind phenom Phillippe Aumont. Aumont's 2.50 EqERA ranks him ninth in the Midwest League.