Hard to imagine a better matchup between these two teams than one with Felix Hernandez and Mark Buerhle starting - with the rubber game of the series on the line.
Buerhle, of course, has that perfect game on his 2009 resume, and a 7-4 career mark against Seattle.Hernandez has a 12-4 record and a sparkling 2.84 ERA, though against Chicago he's gone 2-2 lifetime, with a 4.46 ERA.
All that's history, though. What matters tonight is which of these pitchers finds his command first - both are capable of dominating any lineup.The Mariners are starting left-handed hitting Ryan Langerhans in place of left-handed hitter Michael Saunders, and have catcher Rob Johnson back after missing three games.
It's Buerhle vs. Felix.
Felix bobs and weaves
Mr. Hernandez struck out the side in the second inning, but it wasn't as simple as it sounds.Jim Thome singled, Carlos Quentin struck out. A.J. Pierzynski shot a line drive up the middle that left Felix on the ground, his feet in the air.
Alexi Ramirez sruck out.Mark Kotsay walked to load the bases. Jason Nix struck out.
Lots of zeroes
Through four innings, this is a game that's come as advertised - starting pitching is key.
Buerhle has bden more efficient with his pitches, needing 48 through four shutout innings.
Felix? He's thrown 60 over the same span, and struck out seven in the process. His season high in strikeouts? Ten.One hit for Seattle, three for Chicago. No runs.
A little Ichiro, please
We got your pitching, how about a little defense? OK, you asked for it.
Jason Nix singled, was bunted to second and took third on a wild pitch. Trouble? Gordon Beckham flied to right field - and Nix tagged.
Ichiro's throw to Johnson at the plate was one-hop perfect for the third out.
The shutout continues.In the fifth: No score.
Mark Kotsay doubled to open the seventh, Nix singled him to third base with no one out and Felix was in real trouble.
With his 101st pitch, he struck out Scott Podsednik. With his 104th pitch, he got a double play ball from Beckham.
That's pitching.In the seventh: No score.
Leaving 'em loaded
Mariners loaded the bases in the eighth on a single, intentional walk and an error - then Jose Lopez popped out and Mike Sweeney flied out.
Into the ninth: No score.
Extra innings - and an injuryTied going into the 10th, and Mark Lowe is on to pitch for Seattle.
Update on shortstop Jack Wilson, who left in the fifth inning: he aggravated his left hamstring muscle and will be evaluated by team doctors tomorrow.
Mr. Johnson saves the day
Catcher Johnson's had a tough night - two passed balls - but made up for it in the 10th.One out and runners on first and third base made it look grim, but Johnson fired to third baseman Beltre and picked off Podsednik.
Why Podsednik was that far off is a mystery, but the out saved the inning.In the 10th: Still zeroes.
Into the 12th inning, scoreless. How rare are these games?The last time the Mariners played as many as 10 scoreless innings in a game was on April 24, 1993.
And in the 12th!
Russell Branyan had a marvelous at-bat, fouling off five pitches before walking against closr Bobby Jenks wih one out - and Hannahan singled him to third inning.Johnson lined a ball toward the right field line, but first baseman Kotsay made a diving catch, then tagged first base for the double play.
Where no Mariner hath gone before
Bottom of the 13th inning, this piece of news: The Mariners have never been in a scoreless game at the end of 12 innings.Until now.
On to the 14th.
Zeroes to eternity? No!
Beltre singled and with two outs, Hannahan walked. Wakamatsu brought Ken Griffey Jr. in to pinch hit for Johnson.Junior singled.
Mariners win.It's a final: Mariners 1, White Sox 0