Cliff Lee pitched another gem tonight against the Texas Rangers going all nine innings to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory down in Arlington to start a four game series. Don Wakamatsu put a new fresh lineup on the field tonight batting Chone Figgins at the bottom of the order as well as starting Mike Carp at first. Figgins responded by going 3-4 and making a great diving catch in the second inning. Carp who had 10 homers for Tacoma replaced Mike Sweeney on the roster while Sweeney tries to recover from his back problems. Wak shook up his own coaching staff by switching Lee Tinsley from first base over to third base with Mike Brumley. Milton Bradley batted second and picked up a hit, but it seems Josh Wilson would be a more natural guy to bat second. I applaud Wakamatsu for trying some new moves and just hope they work.
Offensively the Mariners had a big inning in the second when Carp lead off with a single and got forced out at second. Following that, none other than Rob Johnson picked up his first of two hits on the night setting the stage for Michael Saunders. Saunders turned on a pitch and lined a ball just over the right field fence for a 3-run homer. Figgins got on with a single and stole second but got caught trying to steal third following the blast by the tall lanky Canadian Saunders.
The Mariners picked up another run in the third with a single by Rob Johnson scoring Mike Carp who had reached base on an error and was moved up by Josh Wilson who had another 2-hit night. The rest of the night was all about Cliff Lee who just kept pounding the strike zone all night keeping the Rangers at bay. Lee pitched out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings leaving a couple of Rangers on base both times. Cliff Lee exudes confidence on every pitch and tonight there was no doubt who was in charge.
Lee pitched 8 innings without giving up a run or a walk and thus was given the ball to finish this one out in the 9th where things got a bit dicey for the southpaw. The Rangers were able to get lucky and pick-up two runs in the ninth on sharp ground balls that made it through the infield. Jose Lopez however made a great play on a ball in the hole to get a force at second and save a run. It looked like the Rangers may have had a chance for a comeback victory after Lee dropped a ball shoveled to him by Casey Kotchman , but true to form Cliff Lee got the last out before we had to call on the recently shaky bullpen.
The AL West is bunched up at the top with the other three clubs in the division hovering just above .500. The Mariners need to win this series to stay alive. It seems we have been around 7 or 8 games back for over a month despite going through injuries, retirements and various melt-downs. For tonight we are still breathing in this race despite the endless trials this club has put itself and the die-hard fans through. http://jeffsmariners.com