The Mariners won their 61st game on Sunday, equaling the number of wins that they got all of last season.
2008 - The 61st win on game 162 - a game most fans didn't want to see them win so they could get the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft.
2009 - The 61st win comes in game 118 on a sold-out sunny Sunday at Safeco Field that was filled 7/8 Mariners fans. Yes there were annoying Yankee fans there, but it was an M's crowd (much respect to the fans).
For this new regime - GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Don Wakamatsu - this is a milestone and something to be proud of. To be fair, I didn't know that this win would come with 44 games left to play. They've exceeded my expectations and several other peoples as well.
"The number one goal that we came in with is to try to regain the confidence of the fans," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "If you watch us play, that's what I'm most proud of is that we don't give in and these guys play hard. To be able to keep your head up high and know that you gave the fans their money's worth that's important to us."
Obviously, I wanted to write about the difference of getting this win now, in comparison to getting this win on the last day of the season. So I was going to ask players who were around from last year ... problem is there aren't a ton. No Betancourt, no Sexson, no Vidro, no Washburn, no Putz.
Rob Johnson (September call-up)
Adrian Beltre (wasn't there today for groin-related reasons)
Erik Bedard (really wasn't there to begin with)
Carlos Silva (sort of there)
Miguel Batista (haven't talked to him once this season, why start now)
Perhaps of all the players who found most season to be difficult it was Ichiro. There were anonymous comments about him in the newspaper, more offseason comments from former teammates and just the agony of losing from last season. He was admittedly miserable last season. This year, he's a different guy.
So naturally, he's the first person you want to talk to about it.
When it was mentioned to comment on the significance of getting last year's win total in August, he replied through translator Ken Barron:
"It makes me think, 'man, we lost a lot of games last year.'"
When asked if the difference simply just winning or a different attitude about the way the game is played and approached, Ichiro said: "It's both. We have lot better human beings this year."
One of the most memorable and humorous moments from last season came after the Mariner had gotten thrashed by the Yankees, 13-2 at the old Yankee Stadium. It was their fourth straight loss and 12th in 16 games. In that game, John McLaren had gotten tossed for arguing an awful called third strike call on Ichiro.
It was one of the low points of a season that would only get lower and Ichiro admitted he thought that the team was falling apart.
From my story:
NEW YORK - This Seattle Mariners team, at least in its current state, is bad enough to drive Ichiro Suzuki to drink.
Metaphorically speaking, at least.
Following the latest thrashing, a 13-2 demolition at the hands of the New York Yankees on Friday in Yankee Stadium, the Mariners center fielder wore the look of a haggard Brooklyn construction worker after a week of hard labor.
After the Mariners lost their fourth straight and 12th in 16 games - Ichiro dropped his head into his hands as if to wipe the stain of defeat from his face.
"Playing on this team and seeing what's happening around me, I feel like something is beginning to fall apart," he said through translator Ken Baron.
Ichiro is aware that, to outsiders, it looks like a total catastrophe.
"If I was not in that situation and I was objectively watching what had happened to this team in the last week, I'd probably be drinking a lot of beers and booing," he said.
And it wouldn't even matter what kind.
"Usually I enjoy Japanese beer, but given the situation I wouldn't care if it was Japanese beer, American beer or beer from Papua New Guinea," he said.
So when I reminded him of that moment and asked him if he no longer would need a beer from Papua New Guinea this season, he was much happier.
"This year I am able to enjoy some Japanese beer, the right way," he said.
And in a little plug he added,
"In particular, Kirin Ichiban."
So if you want to drink the preferred beer of the Mariners leading hitter and right-fielder that's what you go with.
Also a tip of the cap to Doug Fister, who was solid today. He pitched 7 innings allowing, eight hits and three runs. He also didn't walk a batter and pitched fast (call him the anti-Batista).
"It starts with the starting pitching and Doug Fister was outstanding," Wakamatsu said. "This guy really has a feel for pitching."
He also has a feel for deflecting credit.
"It's still a team game and a team win," Fister said. "Yeah, I was out there pitching, but it takes everybody in the dugout to make it happen."
Come on, Doug, you got your first big league win, it's no time to go Nuke LaLoosh on us. You pitched great. You deserved the win and you can bask in it a little bit, nobody will h old it against you.
&bull Joba Chamberlain made his second career start against Seattle, retiring the first 7 batters he faced before allowing a walk…prior to today's loss, he was 5-0 with a 3.78 ERA in 9 starts since June 24…his last loss was June 18 vs. WAS.
&bull Derek Jeter went 3x4 with now has 2,675 career hits as a shortstop, passing Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (2,673) for the all-time record.
&bull Nick Swisher went 1x4 and recorded a home run in his second consecutive game…of his 20 home runs this season, 13 have come as a left-handed batter, including today's…17 of his 20 home runs have been hit on the road…Swisher has also recorded 11 hits in last 38 at bats (.289).
&bull Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 14 games…during the streak he is batting .431 (25x58) with 10 runs scored, 7 doubles, 2 home runs and 4 RBI…he is the only Yankee this season to record 3 hit streaks of 10-or-more games.
&bull New York recorded 1 home run in the game and has now hit a home run in the last 14 consecutive games, compiling 28 total home runs during the span.
&bull Doug Fister earned his first Major League win in his second career start today, allowing 3 runs in 7.0 innings…began his Major League career with 9.0 shutout innings, dating back to his first appearance on Aug. 8 vs. Tampa Bay…notched another quality start and did not walk a batter in any of his 7.0 innings pitched.
&bull Jose Lopez went 3x5 with a 2 doubles and 3 RBI. Lopez leads the team with 31 doubles and 71 RBI…2nd on the team in extra base hits with 46. Lopez is tied for 1st in the American League (Mauer) with 18 3+ hit games. His 45 RBI since June 1st rank 8th best in the American League, 1 behind Russell Branyan.
&bull Franklin Gutierrez went 2x5 with an RBI and a run scored…has hit safely in 10 of last 13 games, batting .304 (17x56) with 10 runs, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, and 6 RBI during the span.
&bull Jack Hannahan went 2x5 with an RBI and has hit safely in 14 of his last 19 games…during the span he is batting .306 (19x62).
&bull Josh Wilson went 2x3 with a double, RBI and 2 runs scored…marked his 3rd multi-hit game this season and 1st as a Mariner. (last: 5/31 @ COL w/ SD)
&bull Ichiro Suzuki went 2x5, extending his hitting streak to 8 games…during the span he is batting .333 (12x36)…Ichiro is 2nd in the American League in batting (.360) and first in hits (175) and multi-hit games (58)…Ichiro is 25 hits short of his 9th straight 200 hit season and 19 short of his 2,000 career Major League hit.
&bull Ken Griffey Jr. went 1x5 and has hit safely in 22 of last 32 home games (.316/31x98)…overall is batting .277 (36x130) at home.
&bull Every Mariner batter reached base in today's game…8 of 9 had base hits and 8 of 9 scored runs, going combined 7-for-18 with RISP. The last time the Mariners scored at least 10 runs vs. the Yankees was May 4, 2007.
&bull The Mariners scored 11 runs in their previous 6 games before scoring 10 today