Ackley's sprained thumb stings as much as Mariners' 5-3 loss to Cubs in 11 innings

Staff writerJune 29, 2013 

Cubs Mariners Baseball

Mariners infielder Brad Miller, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday, shatters his bat on a swing against the Chicago Cubs at Safeco Field on Saturday. Miller went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts for Seattle in its 5-3 loss in 11 innings.


The Seattle Mariners are running out of space in the medical room.

Dustin Ackley joined fellow injured outfielders Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders and Michael Morse when he sprained his thumb while trying to make a diving catch Saturday afternoon. He’s day to day in playing status.

Two innings later, Alfonso Soriano provided the 11th-inning insult to injury when he hit a two-run homer off Oliver Perez to give the Chicago Cubs a 5-3 win over Seattle in front of 34,630 fans at Safeco Field.

Ackley charged in, dove, and came up short in the top of the ninth. His momentum pushed his gloved hand into the ground and he rolled over his left wrist. He knew there was a problem right away, sitting up without his glove.

He walked off with trainer Rick Griffin holding his left hand.

Ackley’s injury, on top of Friday’s finger injury to Saunders, puts the Mariners in an odd spot.

Morse and Gutierrez are on the disabled list. Jason Bay, who pinch ran in the eighth inning for designated hitter Kendrys Morales, moved from the designated hitter spot to right field. Endy Chavez swung over to center field.

The juggling caused the Mariners to forfeit the designated hitter and left them with just reserve catcher Henry Blanco as a bench option. Blanco walked in the bottom of the ninth when he hit in the pitcher’s spot, emptying the Seattle bench.

That’s why starter Joe Saunders was at the plate in the bottom of the 11th.

“No other alternative,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

Prior to the game, Wedge knew that Michael Saunders was available only to pinch run after he was spiked Friday night, damaging the middle finger of his right hand. Wedge had Nick Franklin pinch hit in the seventh for Brendan Ryan, eliminating him from the bench.

Saunders said he has not swung a bat since Friday, although he plans on testing things Sunday morning. His finger was capped with a protective cover after the game Saturday. The fingernail never ripped off, giving Saunders hope he can swing Sunday, if necessary.

Wedge had put Bay in for Morales in the near-miss eighth. Morales singled with one out and was replaced by Bay with the Mariners down 3-2. The count on Raul Ibañez moved to 3-1 before Bay was picked off trying to steal second against left-hander James Russell.

Ibañez doubled on the next pitch. Justin Smoak followed with a hard liner to left, which Brian Bogusevic charged, scooped and threw home. Ibañez was sent toward the plate by third base coach Daren Brown but was thrown out, leaving the Mariners scoreless in the three-hit inning.

All the shuffling left Blanco at the plate in the ninth with one out, and the Mariners trailing by a run. He walked. Saunders pinch ran for him. Franklin’s groundout to first pushed Saunders to second. Chavez’s single to center on the next pitch easily scored the speedy Canadian to tie the game and snap Chavez’s 0-for-19 slump.

After a quiet 10th inning, Soriano hit a two-run homer to center field off Perez, which left the left-hander with a counter-intuitive complaint.

Perez (2-2) said his fastball to Soriano was too far down in the strike zone, a rare negative for pitchers. In Soriano’s case, that’s a location that results in lament.

“Everybody knows Soriano is a very good low-ball hitter and he just golfs the ball,” Perez said.

That final shot in the 11th undid a solid day of work for Seattle starter Aaron Harang, who allowed three earned runs in eight innings.

Smoak homered in the second and Ackley knocked home Mike Zunino two batters later to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

In the end, Saturday hurt all around.

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