Oh, so close

  • By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
  • Friday, September 9, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

SEATTLE — Catchers rarely hit for cycles because, well, catchers rarely hit triples.

The Seattle Mariners’ Miguel Olivo isn’t the typical catcher, though. His receiving has been a point of conversation but his power potential has been an attractive part of his game. And that includes hi

s ability to run for three bases at a time.

Last year, for example, he hit a career-high six triples with the Colorado Rockies.
Friday night in a 7-3 Seattle Mariners victory over the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field, Olivo fell one step short of hitting for the cycle, and it wasn’t a triple that stopped him.

He got that in the fifth inning with a drive to the wall in right-center field. That followed his first-inning double and his third-inning home run off the left-field foul pole.

With two chances to get the easiest of hits — a single — Olivo didn’t. He hit a broken-bat fly out to left field in the sixth inning and grounded into a double play to end the eighth.

“Everybody was rooting for him tonight,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Miggy had a great game.”

The Mariners enjoyed more offense than Olivo’s.

Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-5, including a home run in the third inning. He has 167 hits with 18 games remaining in his pursuit of an 11th straight 200-hit season.
Wedge was more enthralled with Suzuki’s contribution to the victory. He also singled in the Mariners’ two-run first inning — when they overcame two runs by the Royals in the top of the first — hit an RBI single in the fourth and an infield single in the eighth.

“We’re not just looking for him to get his hits,” Wedge said. “We’re looking for him to contribute and help us win ballgames.”

First baseman Justin Smoak continued his hot hitting since coming off the disabled list, going 3-for-4 with three singles, including one in the fifth inning that drove home a run.

The Mariner who hit the ball as hard as anyone, Dustin Ackley, went 0-for-4.
His first at-bat, he hit a hard line drive to Royals center fielder Melky Cabrera in the first inning.

In the third, Ackley hit what appeared a certain home run with a high drive to right field. Ackley was nearly to second base in his home-run trot when Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur leaped and reached high over the wall to catch the ball — with some help.

A fan in the first row beyond the fence also reached, and the ball hit her glove before settling into Francoeur’s. Ackley stopped near second base stunned to learn he’d flied out.

In the fourth inning, Ackley drove a liner toward the right-field corner but Francoeur got a quick jump and made another leaping catch — this time far from the outfield wall with no assist necessary.

“Ackley hit three balls right on the nose with nothing to show for it,” Wedge said. “We were being tough up there and making good outs, making the pitcher work, and when you do that it comes back to you. Even Ackley squaring those three balls up like he did, it helps the next guy up. And the next guy up tonight was Olivo.”

The Mariners’ two-run first inning saved starting pitcher Blake Beavan from a rough beginning. He allowed four hits and two runs in the first inning, including a homer by the Royals’ Alex Gordon on the first pitch of the game.

But Beavan recovered and shut down the Royals the next five innings to give the Mariners’ hitters a chance to get him the lead. After Salvador Perez’s leadoff single in the second inning, Beavan retired 13 straight until Eric Hosmer’s one-out single in the sixth.

Alcides Escobar’s triple and Gordon’s RBI infield single with one out in the seventh gave the Royals their third run, making it a 7-3 game, and Wedge pulled Beavan after 93 pitches.

“They came out swinging the bats and they’re a good hitting ballclub,” Wedge said. “Blake did a great job getting through that first inning and he really settled after that.”

Shawn Kelley pitched 12⁄3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit, and Jamey Wright pitched the ninth to finish off Beavan’s first victory since Aug. 5.

Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog and follow his Twitter updates at @kirbyarnold.

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