PHOENIX – On a night when the man who is supposed to hit – but hasn’t much this season – banged out four hits and achieved a career milestone, it didn’t seem to be enough.
On a night when the player who has one of the major leagues’ lowest batting averages for an everyday player hit a three-run home run, it didn’t seem to be enough.
On a night when the Seattle Mariners had 13 hits, including three home runs, in the first nine innings, it didn’t seem to be enough.
But on a night that both pitching coaches would rather forget, the Mariners found a way to pick up a 12-9 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in 10 innings Tuesday.
Pinch hitter Casper Wells singled over a drawn-in infield in the top of the 10th inning to drive in two runs, and Ichiro Suzuki, who notched the 2,500th hit of major league career in the first inning, drove in another run with his fourth hit of the night to lead Seattle to victory at Chase Field.
“That’s a hell of a win against a good club in their back yard,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
The winning runs came against an old friend.
Former Mariners closer J.J. Putz, now Arizona’s closer, pitched a scoreless ninth inning to send the game to extra innings, but he never got out of the 10th.
Putz walked leadoff hitter Justin Smoak, and Wedge replaced Smoak with pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki.
The energetic Kawasaki frustrated Putz with his leads off first base. After throwing to first several times and taking long looks at Kawasaki, a seemingly distracted Putz gave up a single to Dustin Ackley.
D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson replaced Putz with side-armer Brad Ziegler to face Brendan Ryan, whose three-run homer in the fifth raised his batting average to .179.
The Mariners played the situation straight up and had Ryan move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt.
Wells pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot and ripped a single to right-center to easily drive in both runners.
“I was trying to pick the ball up from where he released from, which is basically the dirt,” Wells said. “And I just tried to hit the ball as a hard as I could. I was looking for a pitch I could handle.”
Ichiro’s RBI double to left capped a 4-for-5 night. He had two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored.
His first-inning hit – a flare to left – gave him 2,500 for his career in 1,817 games. He’s the fourth-fastest to reach that milestone, behind Hall of Famers Al Simmons (1,784), Ty Cobb (1,790) and George Sisler (1,808).
After Ichiro got a day off Monday, Wedge noticed a difference from his veteran star on Tuesday.
“You saw the way he swung the bat,” Wedge said. “You saw it in his first swing in his first at-bat when he fouled the ball straight back. That got my attention right away.”
On a night when no pitchers seemed able to get big outs for much of the game, Seattle’s late-inning relievers were solid.
Brandon League pitched a scoreless seventh inning; Charlie Furbush threw the eighth and ninth innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced, to earn the win. And Tom Wilhelmson was perfect in the 10th to get the save.
The late-inning heroics overshadowed some mediocre pitching performances early from both teams – including by both starting pitchers, Seattle’s Erasmo Ramirez and Arizona’s Daniel Hudson.
Ramirez lasted four innings, giving up five runs – four earned – on seven hits, including a pair of home runs.
The Mariners gave him an 2-0 lead after a second-inning home run by Smoak and a third-inning RBI single by Kyle Seager.
But that lead vanished in the bottom of third. Ramirez gave up a triple to Willie Bloomquist to start the inning, and Bloomquist scored on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly.
A rare error at shortstop by Ryan didn’t help matters. Ramirez then gave up a double to Jason Kubel and a single to Paul Goldschmidt that allowed both runners to score.
In the fourth inning, Ramirez gave up solo homers to Gerardo Parra and Hill, who has been wearing out Mariners pitching during the series.
Down 5-2, Seattle seemed like a long shot to come back. But Arizona’s starter, Hudson, was even worse than Ramirez.
Hudson imploded in the fifth inning. He gave up a single to Ichiro, walked Franklin Gutierrez and then left a fastball up to Seager, who deposited it into the swimming pool beyond the wall in right-center for a three-run homer.
Up 8-5, Mariners manager Eric Wedge called on Hisashi Iwakuma to protect the lead. It didn’t happen. Instead Iwakuma failed to make it out of the fifth inning, giving up a homer to Goldschmidt and RBI singles to pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay and Bloomquist.
That left reliever Shawn Kelley with a bases-loaded mess and Justin Upton at the plate.
Kelley gave the Mariners one of their better pitching performances of the night. He fell behind, 3-1, against Upton but battled back and striking him out with a nasty slider to keep the game tied at 8.
But the pitcher who hadn’t allowed a run all season finally did in the sixth. Lucas Luetge started the inning by giving up a hit to Kubel, then he walked Goldschmidt and allowed a run-scoring single to right field by Miguel Montero. It was the first run allowed by Luetge after 25 scoreless appearances.
Down 9-8, the Mariners didn’t go away. They tied the game in the eighth on Ichiro’s sacrifice fly off reliever David Hernandez.email@example.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish