The sixth consecutive win the Seattle Mariners stuck on the end of their winning streak tonight had less to do with the starting pitching than about most eveyone else on the team.
Beating the Minnesota Twins on a night when 37,498 fans showed up - and future Hall of Famer Jim Thome hit home runs 592 and 593 - required the Mariners to do a lot of things crisply.
And they got it done.
Behind 7-4 after the seventh inning, Seattle scored twice in the eighth, once in the ninth and once more in the 10th to win, 8-7.
“We showed how resilient we are and came away with a win,” said Jason Vargas, whose start lasted only 4 2/3 innings. “We want to stay in this thing.”
DH Jack Cust in his 40th game, finally hit his first home run, a two-runs hot in the first inning that was rewarded by teammates giving him the silent treatment before mobbing him.
“As if it weren’t awkward enough, not hitting my first home run until July,” Cust deadpanned. I’ve been fighting the urge to try to do too much, and that ball I hit pretty square. I’d come close a few times at Safeco, but never really got all of one.”
Pinch hitter Adam Kennedy and Ichiro drove in eighth-inning runs to make it a 7-6 game, then Justin Smoak singled to open the ninth ininng and Michael Saunders pinch ran for him - stealing second base as Cust struck out.
Rookie Carlos Peguero singled Saunders home with two out to tie.
“We executed or we’d never have gotten to the 10th inning,” manager Eric Wedge said. "Everybody contributed."
In the 10th, Jack Wilson and Miguel Olivo, who came into the game in the eighth inning, singled. Ichiro bunted them along and the Twins intentionally walked Chone Figgins. Why? To set up a force at the plate or a double play, yes - but mostly to get to Luis Rodriguez.
Two pitches into the at-bat, L-Rod was behind in the count, 0-2.
"I wanted to swing at anything close because I didn’t want to strike out in that situation,” Rodriguez said. “(Anthony) Swarzak threw me sliders, changeups, two-seam fastballs.I prepare for that situation, every day. Eighty-per cent of it is mental. I get loose physically, I stay focused mentally, I’m ready.”
Rodriguez drove a sac fly to center field, Wilson scored and Brandon League worked a 1-2-3 10th inning. Simple. All it took were 13 position players and five pitch4s.
The Mariners are now 23-24.