By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
PHOENIX — On a night where the man who is supposed to hit, but hasn’t much this season, banged out three hits and achieved a career milestone, it didn’t seem to be enough. On a night where the player who hasn’t been able to buy a hit this season and has one of the lowest batting averages for an everyday player hits a three-run homer, it didn’t seem to be enough. On a night when, the Mariners banged out 13 hits, including three home runs in the first nine innings, it didn’t seem to be enough.
But on a night that both pitching coaches would rather forget, lest they be overtaken with nausea, the Seattle Mariners found a way to pick up a victory in extra innings.
Pinch hitter Casper Wells singled over a drawn-in infield in the top of the 10th inning scoring two runs, and Ichiro Suzuki, who notched his 2,500th hit of major-league career in the first inning, drove in an insurance run with his fourth hit of the night to lead Seattle to a 12-9 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday at Chase Field.
“That’s a hell of a win against a good club in their back yard,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
The game winning runs came courtesy of an old friend.
Former Mariners closer and current Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth to send the game to extra innings, but he never got out of the 10th.
Putz walked lead-off hitter Justin Smoak to start the inning. Wedge replaced Smoak with pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki. The energetic Kawasaki frustrated Putz on the mound with his leads at first. After throwing over several times and taking long looks at Kawasaki, a distracted Putz gave up a single to Dustin Ackley.
D’Backs manager Kirk Gibson replaced Putz with side-armer Brad Ziegler to face Brendan Ryan.
The Mariners (30-40) played the situation straight up and had Ryan move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt.
Wells hit in the pitcher’s spot and ripped a single to right-center to easily score both runners.
“I was trying to pick the ball up from where he released from, which is basically the dirt,” Wells said. “And I just tried to hit the ball as a hard as I could. I was looking for a pitch I could handle.”
Ichiro’s double to left that scored Wells later, capped a 4-for-5 night with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored.
But the first-inning hit —a flare to left — gave him 2,500 for his career in 1,817 games. He’s the fourth fastest to reach that milestone behind Al Simmons (1,784), Ty Cobb (1,790) and George Sisler (1,808).
After getting a day off on Monday, Wedge noticed a difference from his veteran star on Tuesday.
“You saw the way he swung the bat,” Wedge said. “You saw it in his first swing in his first at-bat when he fouled the ball straight back. That got my attention right away.”
On a night where no pitchers seemed to get big outs, Seattle’s late-inning relievers were solid.
Brandon League pitched a scoreless seventh inning, Charlie Furbush (3-1) threw the eighth and ninth innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced to get the win. And Tom Wilhelmson was perfect in the ninth to get his fifth save.
The late inning heroics overshadowed some mediocre pitching performances early from both teams — starting with both starting pitchers — Seattle’s Erasmo Ramirez and Arizona’s Brad Ziegler.
Ramirez lasted just four innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, including a pair of home runs.
The Mariners gave him an early 2-0 lead after a second-inning home run from Justin Smoak and third-inning RBI single from Kyle Seager.
But that lead dissipated in the bottom of third. Ramirez gave up a triple to Willie Bloomquist to start the inning and scored on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly. A rare Brendan Ryan error at shortstop didn’t help matters. Ramirez then gave up a double to Jason Kubel and single to Paul Goldschmidt that scored both runners.
In the fourth inning, Ramirez gave up solo homers to Gerardo Parra and Hill, who has been wearing out Mariners pitching.
Down 5-2, Seattle seemed like a long shot to come back. But Arizona starter Daniel Hudson was even worse than Ramirez.
Hudson imploded in the fifth inning. He gave up a single to Ichiro, walked Franklin Gutierrez and then left a fastball up to Kyle Seager, who deposited it into the swimming pool beyond the wall in right-center for a three-run homer.
Up 8-5, Mariners manager Eric Wedge called on Hisashi Iwakuma to protect the lead. It didn’t happen. Instead Iwakuma failed to make it out of the fifth inning, giving up a homer to Goldschmidt and a RBI singles to pinch hitter Lyle Overbay and Bloomquist, and leaving reliever Shawn Kelley with a bases loaded mess and Justin Upton at the plate.
Kelley gave the Mariners one of their better pitching performancesf of the night, falling behind on Upton 3-1 and battling back and striking him out with a nasty slider to keep the game tied at 8-8.
But the pitcher, who hadn’t allowed a run all season, finally did in the sixth. Lucas Luetge started the inning by giving up a hit to Kubel, walked Goldschmidt and then allowed a run-scoring single to right to Miguel Montero. It was the first run that Luetge allowed this season after 25 scoreless appearances.
Down 9-8, the Mariners didn’t go away. They tied the game in the eighth on Ichiro’s sacrifice fly off of reliever David Hernandez.