Luke French pitched another gem tonight against the visiting Cleveland Indians who did not get a hit until the seventh inning off of French who got lots of help from his defense, and just enough from the offense who scored one run in the first inning.
The Mariners got their lone runner in the first inning off of a single by Franklin Gutierrez to score Ichiro from second. Other than that the Mariners bats were kept quiet by Indians starter Fausto Carmona who pitched eighth innings and only allowed four hits.
Luke French kept the Indians at bay with his 87 mph fastball and an occasional change-up that he managed to move around the strike zone at will tonight. French apparently has stopped throwing his slider for now and against the young Indians he got away with only having two pitches in his arsenal tonight.
The Mariners defense played a key role in preserving this victory tonight, Michael Saunders may not be much with the bat but he ran down a ball in the 7th that he alertly threw to second to double-off Shin-Soo Choo which helped end a threat by the Tribe. Later in the ninth Saunders made a great sliding catch on a foul ball to help payback Mr. Choo who terrorized the Mariners last night.
The ninth inning was a real nail-biter as David Aardsma who also really only has one pitch he can throw for strikes a fastball, used his slider, split-finger along with his fastball tonight in an effort that wasn’t pretty but got the job done. Aardsma has been effective as of late and he got some help in the ninth from not only Saunders with his great catch, but also from the combination of Moore to Josh Wilson in a stolen base attempt that highlighted the athletic abilities of these two guys and was a joy to watch as they got a big out.
But that was not the end as Aardsma threw a wild pitch that resulted in runners on second and third with two down as Shelley Duncan was at the plate. Duncan who had earlier broken-up French’s no-hitter in the seventh, battled with Aardsma in a dramatic 9 pitch duel that finally ended with Duncan going down on strikes on a high fastball to end the game before 17,271 fans down at the Safe who cheered as if we were in the World Series!
I will be attending tomorrow’s game after attending the pre-game activities that Lookout Landing and the USS Mariners Blogs have organized. Am looking forward to hearing what kind of spin that Jack Zduriencik puts on this year, and more importantly his vision for moving forward.
One thing positive that we all learned tonight was that Luke French may indeed be a legitimate Major League pitcher who can perhaps be counted on in 2011 to fill a spot in the rotation. This would allow us to focus on filling some of the other gaps, especially with an offense that has averaged only 3.24 runs a game which is on pace to being one of the worst in baseball in the past 30 years.
Oh and be for I forget I want to remind everyone that next friday at Safeco the AAA Rainiers will be playing a playoff game if they make it as Cheney Stadium is finally undergoing a remodel job after 50 years! http://jeffsmariners.com