Ask any manager in baseball, they’ll say the same thing. Get to the sixth inning with a 6-3 lead – against any team, in any ball park – you should win.
The Mariners got their tonight. And they lost, any way.
Rallying on a two-run home run against Josh Lueke, an eighth-inning run against Jeff Gray and then an immaculate bottom of the ninth inning, the Texas Rangers coolly came back to beat the Seattle Mariners, 7-6, on Josh Hamilton’s soft walk-off single.
How good were the Rangers? Tied entering the ninth inning, they didn’t hit a ball hard and won without making an out.
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Wasted was a strong start by rookie Michael Pineda, who gave up three quick runs then got through six innings with a 6-3 lead. Wasted was an 11-hit attack that rolled up three early runs, then went scoreless the final six innings.
“Three of the last four runs they scored were guys we walked,” growled manager Eric Wedge. “You can’t do that. You can’t put runners on against good hitters and get away with it.”
“Against the Rangers, you have to keep tacking runs on, and after the third inning we didn’t,” Jack Wilson said. “We had a couple of chances …”
Take the eighth inning, for instance. Please.
Miguel Olivo singled and stole second to open a rally, only to see the next three batters - Franklin Gutierrez and rookies Trayvon Robinson and Kyle Seager - strike out.
“I had one pitch that at-bat, a 2-1 fastball away, I should have driven somewhere,” Robinson said. “This is like when I jumped from AA to AAA, a different level. I had to learn and I did. I’m learning here, too.”
When it was over, I asked Wedge if a team with a 6-3 lead after six innings should win. He didn't hesitate.
"Yes," he said.