SEATTLE – After another solid performance by Jeff Weaver, then another late-game rally to win, Mike Hargrove made his final gesture as the Seattle Mariners’ manager.
He hugged each of the players as they came off the field following a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, then looked into the grandstand behind home plate and pumped his fist.
It was a motion to his wife, Sharon, his sweetheart since they were junior high school classmates together in Texas.
“I’ve done that after every win that I’ve managed,” Hargrove said. “I don’t mean to show anybody up, but it started in Cleveland and it carried right on through. Some of them have been a little more heart-felt than others.”
Ten rows up, Sharon Hargrove clutched the broom she has brought to the ballpark every time the Mariners have been on the verge of sweeping a series.
The Mariners have swept two straight, accomplishing the feat Sunday with Weaver’s pitching and just enough late-game offense.
Jose Guillen’s leadoff home run in the eighth inning tied the score 1-1 and his single in the ninth drove home Adrian Beltre with the winning run.
It gave the Mariners their eighth straight victory, most since they won nine straight in the 2003 season. The M’s are 12 games above .500 and remained four games behind the first-place Angels in the American League West.
“They’re the hottest team in baseball for a reason,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “They’re a great team. They’ve got good pitching, and at the same time one of the best defensive teams out there, and they’re swinging it. We just couldn’t counter that.”
Weaver did his part, holding the Blue Jays to seven hits and a walk in eight innings, allowing only Frank Thomas’ leadoff home run in the sixth inning.
Guillen got that run back in the eighth, hitting his 10th home run of the season to tie the score 1-1.
In the ninth, after J.J. Putz had overwhelmed the Blue Jays – including a strikeout of Thomas – reliever Jeremy Accardo couldn’t get the Mariners out.
He hit Adrian Beltre with a pitch to start the inning and Raul Ibanez followed with a single to right field.
Guillen then singled to left and Beltre scored the winning win.
It ended one of the strangest days in the history of the Mariners, beginning when Hargrove called a team meeting.
“I thought we were going to talk about All-Star plans,” Ibanez said. “It was a shock.”
Hargrove, who had made his decision on Saturday, was concerned how the team would react after his morning announcement.
“I didn’t want them to become distracted and not concentrate on doing their jobs,” he said. “These guys did great. That’s all I can ask for.”