After concluding interleague play with a big series win against the Padres last weekend, the Mariners made their way to California to play back-to-back series against AL West rivals Oakland and LA Anaheim in that order. With only 2.5 games separating the M’s from first place, each game in these next two series would prove crucial if they were hoping to return to the playoffs.
The M’s would start things off with a proverbial bang on the 4th of July, winning game one by a score of 2-1. Mariners ace Michael Pineda (8-5, 2.58 ERA) would pitch six complete innings with a total of only two hits and one earned run allowed, both of which were eclipsed by his impressive seven total strikeouts. On the offensive end, the team took advantage of a struggling Brandon McCarthy (1-5, 3.33 ERA) scoring two runs on six hits, one of which came from a 396-foot home run off the bat of rookie C Josh Bard.
Former Mariners skipper, and current A’s manager Bob Melvin had this to say about Pineda’s performance, “He’s all arms and legs, and he’s closer to you and throwing 96… He throws the slider in off-counts and when he’s throwing strikes, not only does he have plus stuff but he’s difficult to think along with. You have to get the bat out there for the fastball and he’s not afraid to throw the slider when he’s behind in counts.”
Tuesday night would yield a similar result after the M’s would rack up a 4-2 win in extra innings. Most of the offensive production came from 2B Dustin Ackley, as the rookie scored two of the four Mariners runs; one as a result of a sacrifice fly off the bat of LF Carlos Peguero, and another off a solo HR to center field.
Unfortunately, even after accumulating 10 K in 8 IP, 2011 All-Star pitcher Felix Hernandez (8-7, 3.22 ERA) would receive a no-decision after the A’s scored one run in the 9th inning to take the battle into extras. In the end, the Mariners would secure a win after scoring two big runs in the top of the 10th inning, giving the victory to fellow All-Star teammate Brandon League, even after the young closer blew his fourth save of the year, and cost Hernandez victory #9 (1-4, 3.44 ERA).
“Perseverance, that’s the first word that comes to mind,” said Mariners reliever Jamey Wright regarding the extra inning victory. “You just work hard and good things happen. Bullpen innings have been tough to come by… I’m just glad that we won the game.”
Hoping to get the sweep, the M’s would send red-hot left-hander Jason Vargas (6-6, 3.57 ERA) to face off against A’s rookie ace Guillermo Moscoso (3-3, 2.51 ERA). However, with his spot in the A’s pitching rotation in jeopardy the young ace’s determination and ability to create fly-ball outs on high pitches proved to be a major problem for Seattle. Moscoso finished the night pitching a total of seven innings, giving up only two hits to 2B Ackley, and 3B Adam Kennedy, and issuing five strikeouts.
On the other side, Vargas would receive his sixth loss after pitching a complete game with two earned runs allowed and six strikeouts recorded. In addition to the pitching, the M’s defense committed three errors, matching their season-worst record back on April 6th against the Rangers in Texas.
The Mariners will now travel to Anaheim to face the Angels in the final four games of the first half of the 2011 season. Game one will begin at 10:05 EDT (7:05 PDT) with M’s right hander Doug Fister (3-9, 3.02 ERA) versus Angels All-Star Jered Weaver (10-4, 1.92 ERA).
All statistics and game play-by-play information courtesy of MLB.com (http://www.mlb.com) and ESPN.com (http://www.espn.go.com/mlb) respectively. All photography courtesy of Associated Press (http://www.apimages.com).
About the Author
Written by Chase Smith
Freelance/professional writer for stories in MLB, NBA, and NCAA (particular to teams in Pacfic Northwest/West Coast)