Mariners complete sweep of Reds 1-0

Mariners sweep Reds in Seattle!

    The Seattle Mariners completed a three game sweep of the visiting Cincinnati Reds 1-0 on a rainy Fathers day under the roof at Safeco field. The Mariners pitching once again steered the ship to victory with Ryan RowlandSmith navigating the first 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The Mariners swept a three game series for the first time since the Baltimore series on April 19-21st. Coming into the game today the Reds were batting .276 to lead the National League compared to .234 for the Mariners. But just like the previous two games the Reds were kept in-check by the Mariners pitching staff who managed to get just enough offense behind them to push the Reds down to 2 ½ games out of first in the NL Central. Unfortunately for the Mariners despite winning their fourth game in a row, they stay 13 games back in the AL West as the Texas Rangers won their eighth game in a row.

   The Mariners scored their only run of the game when pesky Chone Figgins smoked an infield single, and then was moved to third on a single by Lopez through the whole on the right side of the infield, created by the speedy Figgins stealing second on the play. Milton Bradley was unable to bring Figgins home leaving the task to Franklin Gutierrez who had the only RBI of the game with his sacrifice fly to center. Josh Wilson did pick-up another single in the inning but the Mariners rally was thwarted by the struggling Mike Carp who may be the next Mariner to go back to Tacoma. Carp gave-way to Casey Kotchman later in the game allowing Kotchman to set the record for most consecutive games by a first-baseman without an error at 239. Congratulations are in order for Casey Kotchman who has struggled at the plate this year but continues to dazzle with the leather.

   The Reds starter Aaron Harang went 6 innings and only gave up the one run in the bottom of the fourth. His opponent today Ryan Rowland-Smith managed to keep the Reds scoreless despite giving up 5 walks. It was nice to see Smith pitch effectively for the second outing in a row, and he may very well have won back his spot in the rotation with this gutsy performance. Smith showed some raw emotion after getting a strike-out in the sixth inning to pitch out of a jam. Brandon League came in to relieve Smith in the 7th after the big Aussie had walked the first two Reds. The Reds executed a perfect sacrifice bunt and suddenly the game was on the line with runners on second and third with only one out. Brandon League had other ideas today and came right after the next two batters with his A-game. Throwing 97 mph pitches with movement, League struck-out Cabrera and Phillips to end the threat.

   Brandon League after four days rest was virtually untouchable today and he mowed down the dejected Reds in the 8th before handing the ball over to David “Dutch” Aardsma. Fortunately Aardsma has also been able to rest due to the dazzling performances by Lee and Hernandez in the first two games of the series. It was nice to see Aardsma put the Reds away 1, 2, 3 in the ninth to close this game and series out for the Mariners who are quietly gathering up a little momentum before the Chicago Cubs come to town Tuesday. It is interesting to note that Jack Wilson is back in the clubhouse after his rehabilitation stint, sending Matt Tuiasosopo back to Tacoma. The Mariners will have to figure out how to keep both of the Wilson’s on the field as the Paperboy has earned a spot in the lineup. Also Mike Sweeney is back itching to contribute and I expect to see him in some capacity when Sweet Lou and the Cubs make their first appearance in 8 years at Safeco field. This has been a tough year and with Texas and the Angels playing for keeps now it will be hard for the Mariners to get back in the race. But for the next couple of days it is just kind of nice to think about sweeping the Reds and only allowing them 1 run in three games.

Mariners keep hope alive with 5-1 win

Ichiro Fans going crazy after homer June 19,Safeco Field

    The Seattle Mariners beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 tonight behind the pitching of Felix Hernandez who went all the way, and home runs from Ichiro and Michael Saunders. The surprising Reds who have been at or near the top of the NL central all year were held to 5 hits and struck-out 9 times tonight as they slipped to 1 ½ games out of first. For the Mariners it was their third win in a row and the first time all month they have scored more than four runs in a game. Tonight was singles night at Safeco and the crowd became more festive as the night wore on. It has been awhile since the Mariners faithful have given themselves permission to let go and have some fun, like the young fans in the photo that went wild when Ichiro hit a solo-shot in the bottom of third.

   Meanwhile Felix Hernandez for the second outing in a row showed the swagger that he displayed last year allowing the Mariners offense time to come to life. The Reds starter Sam LeCure dropped to 1-4 though he pitched well outside of the long-ball that Ichiro hit in the third, until the Mariners came to life in the sixth inning. Jose Lopez opened up the bottom of the 6th with a single to center followed by a double off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez to give the Mariner runners at second and third with no outs, and the game knotted at 1-1. For a minute it looked like once again the M’s were going to come up empty-handed as Josh “Paper boy” Wilson failed to deliver and instead lined out to first. Casey Kotchman was then intentionally walked as the Reds tried to get out of the inning with a double play. Rob Johnson was able to put the Mariners up by a run with a sacrifice fly to center, and you could sense the relief in the crowd after so many disappointing bases loaded situations this year.

   With two runners aboard the tall lanky kid from Canada with two down and two men aboard, proceeded to slam a three-run homer to right which sent the fans into a frenzy as finally someone had delivered a clutch home run. Felix Hernandez went into overdrive after being given a 4-run lead and for the second night in a row the Mariners starter went the distance. Chone Figgins also had a big night and went 3-4 hitting the ball hard as well as covering a lot of ground at second.

   In addition to the young Michael Saunderish looking guys with Ichiro spelt  on their chests I saw a group of older Japanese fans out in right field who were whooping it up tonight as well. A couple of the older Japanese gentlemen came over at one point in the game to shake hands and take photos of the “Ichiro Boys”. It was fun out in the right-field corner tonight on singles night. I didn’t meet the woman of my dreams but I had fun and even felt that elusive home-town pride in our ballclub. Jack Z. stated he was not going to make any decisions on trades till after the games with the Cubs and Reds. So for one more night the flickering flame of hope is still alive, and if we can keep rolling we may not need to replace that flame with a fire-sale next month.

Paper boy delivers, Lee dominates Reds 1-0!

    Cliff Lee pitched a complete game shutout over the visiting Cincinnati Reds by a score of 1-0 in front of 43,362 Mariners Fans. Lee squared off against Johnny Quento in a classic pitcher’s duel that the crafty veteran Lee prevailed in. The Reds came into tonight’s game a half game up in the NL Central thanks to a potent offense featuring four hitters batting over .300. However Cliff Lee failed to walk a single batter and struck-out 7 Reds using his aggressive style and pin-point accuracy. After tonight’s performance the Mariners may have to figure out a way to come-up with whatever it takes to entice Lee into signing an extension. If not it may be worthwhile to hang on to him for the rest of the season just to give the fans a reason to come-out to the Ballpark.

  The Reds did threaten in the first with runners on second and third after a 2-out double by the veteran Scott Rolen before Lee got out of the inning with a ground-ball to third. The Mariners managed to load the bases in the second following the first of two doubles by Jose Lopez and a couple of walks. Unfortunately Michael Saunders was not able to produce, leaving the bases loaded after a pop-up. The Mariners were stifled at the plate along with the Reds up until the sixth inning when Jose Lopez got hit by a pitch with 2-outs. Franklin Gutierrez who was moved down in the order tonight into the fifth spot, then blooped a single to center setting the stage for Josh Wilson. The Paper boy delivered with a single up the middle which drove home a hustling Lopez who narrowly avoided the tag with a great slide.

    The Reds manager Dusty Baker pulled Queto after Wilson’s single and the M’s skipper Don Wakamatsu countered by bringing in Mike Sweeney off the bench to pinch-hit for the struggling Mike Carp. It was nice to Sweeney back with the club even though he was not able to drive-in the runners on base and instead struck-out against Reds reliever Daniel Herrera on a wicked curve that broke 18 inches. The Mariners got a break in the eighth when Reds left fielder Johnny Gomes lost a ball in the  twilight allowing Jose Lopez to land at second with two outs. Unfortunately Gutierrez went down swinging and was unable to provide the Mariners with an insurance run off of ex-Mariner Arthur Rhodes who at age 40 can still get it done.

  This was a nice game to watch for the fans many of which may have come to the game for an Ichiro-Griffey bobble-head doll but instead were treated to a pitching gem starring Cliff Lee. Perhaps the thing that sticks in my mind most from Lee’s pitching performance was watching him sprint to the mound in the 8th and 9th innings. Cliff Lee just keeps getting better this year and tonight he surely turned up the dial on any trade rumors floating around baseball. Tomorrow our other newly rebounding Ace Felix Hernandez will be on the mound trying to keep the flickering flame of hope alive for the Mariners in 2010.

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