Somehow the Mariners survived a night without Ichiro in the lineup. In fact they are now 1-0 on the season in games without him.
Of course, that won't be a trend that continues. Ichiro will be back in the lineup at leadoff on Saturday.
Seattle had a season-high seven extra base hits, and managed just three runs. They got a first inning solo homer from Justin Smoak, a triple from Carlos Peguero in the fifth, which he later scored on Chris Gimenez's single. And then in the seventh, Peguero came up with the eventual game-winning hit, ripping a towering sole homer to right.
It was Peguero’s seventh home run this season, and more importantly it came off a 1-2 slider from Tigers starter Brad Penny. On the triple, he hit a curveball from Penny.
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After being exposed as a hitter that could seemingly only hit fastballs early on, Peguero has slowly started to figure out that he’s won’t be seeing many fastball, and needed to learn to hit offspeed pitches with some consistency.
“They throw me a lot of offspeed pitches and the last couple of games I made an adjustment,” Peguero said.
Part of that adjustment is not swinging as hard as possible. Wedge labeled Peguero’s swing as violent. Lately, Peguero has taken some of the anger out of it.
“Now I feel more relaxed,” he said. “My timing is better. I feel like I don’t have to swing really, really hard to hit a ball far. Everybody told me that. I just listened to that and put in into practice.”
Peguero has four multi-hit games in the last seven he's played.
But for me, the real standouts of the game were relievers Chris Ray, David Pauley and Brandon League, who pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just a total of two hits.
Starter Bedard fought his way through five innings, giving up two runs on a two-run homer to Victor Martinez in the fifth that tied the game at 2-2, for the only runs allowed. But you could tell early on that his pitch count wasn't going to allow him to get deep into the game.
“I threw a lot of pitches, a lot of foul balls, but I tried to limit the damage,” said Bedard, who exited after 96 pitches.
Bedard might not have been as good as his previous starts, but Wedge wasn’t the least bit displeased.
“Bedard, I thought was tough,” Wedge said. “He did a great job of controlling the ball game, but we needed to get him out of there after five innings.”
Still, it’s not ideal to have to go to the bullpen that early in a game. But the unit that’s exceeded expectations all season, did it again.
Chris Ray, who pitched his way out of the set-up role early in the season, continued his outstanding run of relief appearance, throwing two hitless innings and striking out two hitters. Ray hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 4 – a span of 11 innings pitched.
“I’m able to get a little more leverage on my pitches and able to locate my fastball and getting that extra hop at the beginning of the year,” Ray said.
After two innings from Ray, Wedge went to David Pauley in the eighth. The right-hander, who lives in Michigan during the offseason, gave up a cheap infield single to pinch hitter Don Kelly on a bouncing ball of his glove to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt and a ground ball out to first moved Kelly – the tying run – to third. But he stayed there as Pauley struck out Brennan Boesch to end the inning.
Brandon League came on to pitch the ninth and after allowing a two-out single to Jhonny Peralta and surviving a deep ball to right from pinch hitter Ramon Santiago that was a few feet foul, closed out the game for his 18th save.
“They’ve done a really good job,” Bedard said of the bullpen. “The reason we are in the position we are now is because of them. A lot of credit to them.”