Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
When: 1:35 p.m. today
Where: Safeco Field
TV: FSN (cable)
Radio: KIRO (710 AM)
Pitchers: Seattle left-hander John Halama (2-2, 3.60 earned run average) vs. right-hander Chris Carpenter (2-1, 3.57)
Ichiro’s new name: The player the Mariners would love for everyone to call by the name that’s on the back of all those shirts they’re selling – Ichiro – is known by another moniker in the clubhouse.
“He’s the Wizard,” Tom Lampkin said of Ichiro Suzuki.
Suzuki’s teammates marvel at how he waves his magic wand and produces hits to all fields.
“He keeps hitting the ball well,” manager Lou Piniella said after Suzuki went 2-for-5 Saturday and raised his average to .350.
Lampkin shakes his head at what Suzuki has accomplished so soon in his major league career. Suzuki has a league-leading 12 infield hits, but he showed some pop Saturday with a double and a triple.
“He’s been huge for us, just huge,” Lampkin said. “He forces the defenses to alter their game so much because he can run. And today he showed he can drive the ball in the gaps.
“How do you play him? You just hope he hits it at someone hard.”
Piniella’s secret: Piniella shook up his lineup Saturday hoping to find an offensive spark, but the one move he couldn’t make was at shortstop. Carlos Guillen, hitting .183 entering Saturday, was out there again. Two hits for Guillen raised his average to .196.
Asked who his shortstop would be if Guillen continues to slump, Piniella paused for a long silence.
“I know,” he finally said. “But I won’t tell you.”
Piniella is far from giving up on Guillen.
“We feel Guillen is very capable of hitting .250 to .260,” Piniella said. “He’s been playing very well defensively and we just need him to pick it up offensively. Last year in the second half of the season he hit .296. I don’t think that was an accident.”
Piniella left David Bell, Al Martin and Dan Wilson on the bench to start Saturday’s game, hoping the view from afar would help them see a light.
“You can go a couple of ways (with slumping hitters),” Piniella said. “One, you can keep them playing, which we have done. Two, you can give them a mental break. That’s the approach we’re taking now. Hitting is as much mental as it is physical.”
Garcia’s tough day: Freddy Garcia absorbed his second straight no-decision Saturday, and this outing was dramatically different than his spectacular performance Sunday in Chicago. He allowed only four hits and a run in 8 1/3innings of a game that went 14 innings before the Mariners lost.
On Saturday, Garcia couldn’t get an out in the sixth inning before Piniella pulled him. He had allowed seven hits and four runs in that time. “He threw a lot of pitches and he wasn’t really sharp with his command,” Piniella said.
Conversely, the bullpen was strong in holding the Jays to one run the rest of the game. Jeff Nelson pitched 1 1/3scoreless innings with two strikeouts, Arthur Rhodes worked 1 1/3and allowed a run on two hits in the eighth inning and got the victory, and Kazuhiro Sasaki was perfect in the final 1 1/3with strikeouts of Jose Cruz Jr. and Carlos Delgado to end the game. It gave Sasaki his major league-leading 14th save.