M’s playing Bucky Ball

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – Of all the home runs Bucky Jacobsen hit in his 71/2 years in the minor leagues, none of them measured up to the ones of his childhood fantasy.

”Your whole life, you dream about a major league walkoff home run,” he said.

Jacobsen, finishing his first week as a big leaguer, finally hit the homer of his dreams Wednesday night.

He crushed the first pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning over the center field fence, giving the Seattle Mariners a 6-5 victory over the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field.

After 155 minor league homers and two since he was called up from Class AAA Tacoma last Thursday, this one mattered most.

”I’m still getting goosebumps,” he said 20 minutes after he reached home plate to a swarm of celebrating teammates. ”This is 10 times better than any home run I’ve ever hit.”

It wasn’t so bad for Bobby Madritsch, either.

The 28-year-old left-hander, on his first day in the major leagues after being rushed up from Tacoma, pitched the top of the 10th and watched Jacobsen make him a winner with one swing.

”I’ve seen Bucky hit a lot of them this year,” Madritsch said. ”This matters more than any of them.”

The Mariners rode their young players – plus homers by Bret Boone and Raul Ibanez, and four hits by Ichiro Suzuki – to their fourth victory in the seven games since the All-Star break.

Starting pitcher Travis Blackley, a 21-year-old who’d given up three straight homers and six runs in the third inning of his last start, threw his first pitch Wednesday and watched it sail into the right field seats. Mark Kotsay’s leadoff homer gave Oakland a quick 1-0 lead.

Blackley settled down and gave the Mariners five good innings, leaving with a 5-3 lead.

Julio Mateo, who’d given up three home runs in the ninth inning Friday against Cleveland, pitched two scoreless innings and maintained the two-run lead.

It lasted all of three hitters.

J.J. Putz, newly installed into the right-handed eight-inning role as the Mariners evaluate how he can handle late-inning pressure, gave up a leadoff single to Eric Chavez. He got Jermaine Dye hit a soft popup to shortstop, but fell behind pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg, who then hit a 3-1 pitch deep into the right-field seats for a two-run homer that tied the score 5-5.

Putz gave up another hit but got out of that inning, Eddie Guardado worked a perfect ninth and Madritsch pitched the 10th.

Eric Chavez nearly undressed Madritsch with a line drive single up the middle, and Dye hit a top-spin bouncer that had rookie third baseman Justin Leone on his heels. Leone caught the ball but made a wide throw to second – his sixth throwing error in 12 games – and the A’s were sitting well with runners on first and second with nobody out.

Hatteberg’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third.

Bobby Kielty hit a line drive to Leone, who stepped on third for a double play that ended the threat.

Jacobsen, who was at the plate with two outs in the ninth when A’s right-hander Justin Duchscherer picked Randy Winn off first base, ended it quickly in the 10th.

He hit Duchscherer’s first pitch to dead center field, a 434-foot blast that won the game.

”I didn’t’ think he would throw me a fastball there,” Jacobsen said. ”I thought to myself, ‘If he does, I’ve got to go get it.”

He got it, and one swing became the home run of his dreams.

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