Ken Griffey Jr. is gone, but the Seattle Mariners have to play on and will, facing off with Kevin Slowey and the Minnesota Twins tonight.
Cliff Lee starts, looking for his fourth victory and the lineup behind him is familiar. It's a smallish crowd, and it was entertained by a video tribute to Junior before the first pitch - then stood expectantly, hoping to see him come out of the dugout for one last bow.
Junior wasn't at the park, and hadn't been all day.
Would be nice to win one in his name. The Mariners are paying another tribute to him tonight. Since they didn't replace him on the 25-man roster, Seattle is playing with 24 men tonight.
- The first inning goes 1-2-3 for Mr. Lee, who would like very much to see his 'mates score a few runs now.
- Another scoreless inning put up by Lee, who allowed an infield single. He would still like to see a run or two posted by his 'mates. Just sayiing ...
- Casey Kotchman isn't hitting his weight (.192), but his defense is spectacular. Just robbed Matt Tolbert of a leadoff double in the third inning, diving to catch his slicing line drive. No, the Mariners offense has not yet shown itself. For now, Lee will take defense like Kotchman's and call it even. In the third: No score.
- There's a reason Slowey is a six-game winner. Through three innings, throwing fastballs in the low '90s - and changeups at 75 mph - he's set the Mariners down on 36 pitches. No one has hit a ball hard yet, and Ichiro has struck out twice.
- The Twins M&M attack - Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau - singled and doubled with one out, respectively, putting runners on second and third base. Lee struck out Michael Cuddyer and got Jason Kubel to ground out. That is pitching. In the fourth: No score.
- Rob Johnson isn't hitting his weight (.164), but threw out Tolbert trying to steal second in the fifth inning. If they're not going to score, the Mariners have to play defense behind Lee. So far, they're doing that.
- Milton Bradley opened the Seattle fifth with a single - the Mariners second hit of the night - and stole second base. Jose Lopez flied out. Bradley stole third base, his third steal of the season. Kotchman flied out, Bradley scoring. After five: Seattle 1, Minnesota 0.
- Lee is dealing fastballs at 94 mph, breaking pitches that have hitters lunging, changeups that freeze them. After a 1-2-3 sixth inning, he's thrown 83 pitches.
- Lee's 87th pitch became Cuddyer's seventh home run of the season - the first home run Lee has allowed in 50 2/3 innings this season. Now it's going to take the Mariners two runs to win, and they've only managed three hits to this point. In the seventh: Seattle 1, Minnesota 1.
- Bradley laid down a beautiful bunt for a leadoff single and Lopez singled him to second. Kotchman grounded into a double play, Bradley getting to third base. Johnson popped out - and boos cascaded from the stands. First and second, no outs, and nothing accomplished.
- Lee has gone eight innings, thrown 112 pitches, and is probably done for the night. Unless Seattle scores in their half of the inning, he's going to get another no-decision. Jesse Crain now pitching for Minnesota.
- A 1-2-3 eighth for the Mariners, and David Aardsma is in to pitch for Seattle.
- Mauer walked and Johnson was charged with a passed ball, letting Mauer take second base. Morneau played little ball - grounding to the right side, getting Mauer to third with one out. Cuddyer lined out. Kubel flied out. Ok, everyone exhale at once.
- Extra innings!
- Brandon League pitching. With two outs, he faced pinch-hitter Jim Thome and got him on a fly ball. Now, if the Mariners can score a run ...
- With one out, Kotchman beat out an infield single. Eliezar Alfonso pinch-hit for Johnson and flied out. Josh-not-Jack Wilson singled pinch-runner Ryan Langerhans to second base, getting the inning to Ichiro. Left-hander Jose Mijares came in to pitch. Ichiro hung tough - fouling off seven pitches - then grounded to second base for an infield single - Langerhans scoring the winning run. It's a final: Seattle 2, Minnesota 1.