The Mariners managed to salvage the final game of the four game series with the Angels today, winning 2-1 in extra-innings behind an outstanding performance by Jason Vargas. Vargas has proved himself to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull year. Unfortunately for Vargas he walked away with his eighth no-decision on the year as he left the game with the score still tied with two-outs in the bottom of the 8th. Vargas allowed a single run off a homer by Mike Napoli in the 2nd but otherwise kept the Angels in-check fanning 9 and only allowing a single walk. Vargas was sporting a fresh haircut on this sunny day in Anaheim as he went up against Ervin Santana who pitched well himself.
The Mariners managed to scratch-out a run in the top half of the 5th inning, scoring on a wild-pitch. Ryan Langerhans who drew a walk and stole second with one down, was then moved to third on a single by Rob Johnson setting the table for the wild-pitch that brought Langerhans in to score making it 1-1. Langerhans like a lot of our boys has a batting average that is awful but at least he does manage to get a lot of walks. The veteran journeyman got the start today in left as Michael Saunders injured his fingers the other day diving back to first.
The only other run of the game came in the top of the 10th when the Mariners overcame another goofy base-running mistake this time by Ichiro to score only their 2nd run in extra–innings this year. Ichiro got on with a lead-off walk and manager Don Wakamatsu called for the bunt today unlike yesterday’s similar situation. After reaching second on the sacrifice bunt by Figgins, Ichiro temporarily lost his senses and attempted to advance to third on a ground ball by Gutierrez to short. Ichiro got thrown-out in a run-down leaving Gutierrez at first with two men down. At this point I began to prepare emotionally for another loss but was pleasantly surprised to see Gutierrez steal second and then come home on a clutch two-out single by Lopez.
After Brandon League managed to hold the Angels in the 8th and 9th, Wakamatsu again went with the orthodox move and brought in his closer when his team had a lead. Several times this season Wak has brought in David Aardsma with the game tied in the 9th rather than using him for the save situation like every other manager in Baseball. And guess what….it worked! Aardsma who has been shaky for much of the year actually mixed his pitches up today instead of throwing all fastballs and managed to pick-up his 17th save. I am not sure if Jack Z. has had a talk with Wakamatsu about getting back to basics, or if our beleaguered manager has finally learned from his mistakes, but I guess it is a case of better late than never.
The Mariners now head back to sunny Seattle to face the red-hot Chicago White Sox who find themselves in first-place in the AL Central. We certainly can play the role of spoiler the rest of the way and we owe these guys a few losses after the heart-wrenching losses we suffered to them earlier in the year. As a side note I will be attempting to get down to Cheney Stadium sometime this month to take a look at Ackley and Pineda who are still in AAA playing for the first-place Rainiers in Tacoma. Also please mark your calendars for August 10th as yours truly will be doing my first live podcast on the internet along with a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, stay tuned for more details on that event. Ciao….http://jeffsmariners.com