Pre-game Sunday festivities included a middle-aged man in center field catching two fly balls with oven mitts - making him an instant option to starting Eric Byrnes in left field today.
Byrnes wasn't in the initial lineup, and neither was the oven mitts guy. Mike Sweeney came down with a stiff back and was scratched as the DH, so Don Wakamatsu installed Milton Bradley there and slid Byrnes into left field.
It didn't appear the oven mitts guy could hit, but then Byrnes is batting .107. The team isn't that far ahead of him - small ball is in danger of becoming microscopic ball.
Wakamatsu has managed to get his best hitters up in key situations - Ichirio, Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, Bradley - and each has failed to produce the runs that make the difference between winning and losing.
Yesterday, he called some of them out, saying some Mariners hitters were more worried about their batting averages than about doing what was needed at the moment.
Today against Texas, Doug Fister vs. C.J. Wilson, Seattle is going to need to score if they hope to avoid being swept at home in a series where both Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez started.
- Fister got through a 1-2-3 first inning, but Wilson had no problem with Seattle's first three hitters, either. Ground out, strike out, strike out - on to the second inning. Yikes!
- Seattle, we have a hit. Bradley's ground ball to shortstop turned into an infield single when Elvis Andrus couldn't get the throw to first in the air and rookie Justin Smoak couldn't field the short hop. With two out, Bradley was caught stealing. After two: No score.
- Fister is perfect through four innings, but the question is: If he was perfect through nine, would he win? Seattle has had two baserunners and got one as far as second base.
- Leadoff single forFiggins in the fourth inning and stole his sixth base - and Gutierrez singled him home. The result? A standing ovation from a smallish, cozy crowd at Safeco Field. Lopez doubled and Casey Kotchman was hit by a pitch, loadidng the bases with one out. Byrnes struck out looking. Rob Johnson flied out. By Mariners standards, that was your Big Inning. Fourth inning: Seattle 1, Texas 0.
- Ok, through five innings, Fister is perfect - 15 up, 15 down - and in any league, against any team, that is superb pitching. The Mariners defense hasn't had to make a fabulous play yet, and the Mariners offense has scored one run.
- Top of the sixth: Ok, great play time. Smoak smoked a ball to right field, Ichiro tracked it, leaped and caught it at the top of the wall. Next batter, Max Ramirez, singled to left. Julio Borbon forced Ramirez. Elvis Andrus grounded out. In the sixth: Seattle 1, Texas 0.
- More and more, Mariners pitchers are accepting the fact it may take a shutout to win - and Cliff Lee learned even that might not be enough. Today, Fister has no margin for error if he's going to win. The Mariners offense has five hits, two walks, one hit batter - and one run run.
- Fister opens the eighth inning having thrown 82 pitches, so the Mariners had Mark Lowe warming up behind him. With his 89th pitch, Fister got a ground out. With his 93rd, a second ground ball out. On his 97th, Smoak singled sharply into right field. Vladimir Guerrero pinch-hit for Ramirez and lined the first pitch he saw for a single, putting runners at first and third base. On Fister's 100th pitch, he got Borbon to ground out. In the eighth: Seattle 1, Texas 0.
- Figgins drew his 20th walk of the season to open the eighth. Chris Ray came in to pitch for Texas. Figgins stole his seventh of the season. Gutierrrez walked. Lopez lined into a double play. Bradley struck out. David Aardsma time: To the ninth: Seattle 1, Texas 0.
- Elvis Andrus walked after a 10-pitch at-bat, then stole second base, his eighth. Michael Young struck out chasing a 94-mph fastball down and away. David Murphy singled Andrus home. Aardsma's second blown save in 10 opportunities. In the ninth: Seattle 1, Texas 1.
- Darren Oliver pitching. Kotchman lined out. Byrnes struck out. If he's in a Seattle uniform on Tuesday, it should be for the Sounders. Johnson flied out. To extra innings: Seattle 1, Texas 1.
- Brandon League pitching. Ian Kinsler legged out an infield single. Ryan Garko sacrificed him to second, Smoak got him to third base with a ground ball. Andrew Blanco - the last Texas position player available - pinch hit for Oliver, because the Rangers lost their DH in the eighth inning, and lined out. In the 10th: Seattle 1, Texas 1.
- With two out, Figgins walked. Gutierrez hit Seattle s first ball of the weekend to a warning track, but it was caught. To the 11th: Seattle 1, Texas 1.
- With Lowe pitching, Borbon singled and took second on a wild pitch. Andrus bunted for a single, Borbon taking third. With one out, Murphy's sacrifice fly score Borbon. Andrus scored on a passed ball. In the 11th: Texas 3, Seattle 1.