Doug Fister tries to snap a stretch in which the Seattle Mariners have lost five of six games, and behind him Daren Brown has put together what passes for the regular lineup.
Ryan Langehans and Josh Bard are filling in at left field and catcher, but other than that, this group is the best the Mariners can throw at Minnesota's Nick Blackburn.
Ichiro will lead it off of course, and has a 10-game hitting streak in progress - the36th hitting streak of 10 games or more in his career. As for the Twins, they just win games no matter who is on their roster, and they do it so fundamentally well it doesn't seem all that surprising.
Fister vs. Blackburn. We're off.
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- Twins baseball broke out in the third inning, when Danny Valencia singled and J.J. Hardy sprayed a ball the other way, just inside the first base line for a double. Denard Span singled off the glove of a diving Franklin Gutierrez, Valencia scoring. Joe Mauer grounded into a one-out double play. Nice pitching to hold 'em to one. In the third: Minnesota 1 , Seattle 0.
- Twins are going down right and left. Orlando Hudson departed after the first inning, having sprained an ankle running the bases. In the fourth, Jim Thome was replaced at DH because of lower back stiffness.
- He's down a run, but Fister has thrown five strong innings against a first-place team. Problem is, his offense has had a hit against Blackburn since the first, when the Mariners left runners at first and third base. Fister has seen this before - all the Seattle starting pitchers have - but he's kept the Twins close.
- Through seven innings, Mariners have two hits, both back in the first inning. Fister went seven innings, allowed one run, and Sean White will open the eighth for Seattle. In the eighth: Minnesota 1, Seattle 0.
- To the ninth: Brandon League in for Seattle.
- Mariners pitchers - Fister, White and League - have done their job. If the offense its going to win this game, there are three outs in the ninth in which to catch or pass Minnesota. Trailing after eight innings, Seattle is 2-61. Yikes!
- Make that 2-62. Blackburn, who came in having lost seven of his last eight decisions - carrying a 6.49 earned run average - allowed two hits and shut Seattle out, with last-out help from new closer Brian Fuentes. It's a final: Minnesota 1, Seattle 0.