Mariners reach .500 with 6-5 win at Kansas City
Mariners blew early lead, but a sacrifice fly by Rob Johnson in the eighth inning gave them a victory over the Royals.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Friday | vs. Texas, 7:10 p.m., FSN | Lee (first start) vs. Lewis (3-0, 3.80)
Saturday | vs. Texas, 12:10 p.m. Ch. 13 | Fister (2-1, 1.67) vs. Harrison (0-1, 5.48)
Sunday | vs. Texas, 1:10 p.m. FSN | Hernandez (2-1, 2.23) vs. Wilson (2-1, 1.75)
Tuesday | vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m., FSN | Vargas (2-1, 3.60) vs. Shields (3-0, 3.38)
Wednesday | vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m., FSN | Rowland-Smith (0-1, 5.28) vs. Garza (3-1, 2.17)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chone Figgins insisted after this wild victory by his Mariners that he's actually been feeling comfortable at the plate since last weekend in Chicago.
His numbers certainly didn't support it, with Figgins just 4 for 38 the past two weeks heading into Wednesday's finale of a trip that finished a whole lot better for Seattle than it began. But after he'd delivered a pair of hits, including a two-run triple, to ignite a top-of-the-order eruption in this 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, the speedy infielder insisted that good hitting is all about how a guy feels.
"It's just getting in the box and being comfortable with your feet," Figgins said as his Mariners packed for the trip home, having taken two of three from the Royals. "Getting comfortable with your feet, most guys will tell you they feel they're ready to attack the ball."
And that's what Figgins and company did in front of 13,206 fans at Kauffman Stadium, piling on the hits against onetime Mariners starter Gil Meche. Figgins and Ichiro accounted for five of Seattle's 11 hits on the day and reached base six times between them. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said before the game that his team needed more offensive balance across the entire lineup.
He got it on this day, with Ichiro and Figgins putting on a show, while the bottom three hitters — Casey Kotchman, Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson — contributed two doubles among three hits, as well as two critical sacrifice flies. It was Johnson's sacrifice fly down the left-field line in the eighth that scored Milton Bradley with the decisive run after the Mariners had blown what seemed an insurmountable lead.
Ryan Rowland-Smith had cruised to a 5-1 lead through five innings, allowing just a leadoff home run in the first by David DeJesus. But the wind and sun had wreaked havoc on fielders all day long and punished Rowland-Smith in the sixth when a pop fly to shallow right field by Jason Kendall fell between Figgins and Ichiro.
Instead of the inning being over right there, two runs scored and then an ensuing two-run triple tied the game and ruined Rowland-Smith's day.
"I was happy with the way I threw the ball," said Rowland-Smith, who used a change-up and a much sharper slider to notch four strikeouts and a plethora of ground balls. "Just that bloop single. That's just the kind of break I didn't get. But I'd rather deal with that stuff in April than in September."
Figgins said he and Ichiro couldn't find the ball.
"It was tough because the sun was right over me and him," he said. "By the time it came out, it kind of fell in between us."
Mariners shortstop Wilson had lost an earlier pop-up in the sun and allowed it to fall for a single. But he made up for it with a defensive gem to end the eighth, ranging deep in the hole to his right, then leaping, twirling his body and firing a long strike to third base while still in the air to nab onetime Pittsburgh teammate Kendall.
"It's one of those things I've been teaching myself to do," Wilson said. "That ball comes up 20 or 25 times a year, when you have to make that jump."
The Wilson play enabled Mark Lowe to get out of the eighth with just one hit allowed. David Aardsma saved it in the ninth, allowing Brandon League to collect the win after replacing Rowland-Smith in the sixth and notching four outs.
Wilson keyed a three-run Seattle fifth inning against Meche that snapped a 1-1 tie. Wilson's double, after a leadoff walk to Johnson, put runners at second and third with nobody out.
An infield single by Ichiro, who now has multiple-hit games in eight straight at this ballpark scored Johnson, then Figgins cleared the bases by driving a triple off the wall in right-center.
"That's what we have to do, obviously," Wilson said of the more balanced attack. "There are going to be days when two or three guys have tough days. We have to be able to get it done from the bottom of the order and the top of the order."
Wakamatsu's Mariners certainly ran the gamut of emotions on this trip, losing the first four games before taking the final two to move back to .500 ahead of Cliff Lee's season debut on Friday.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a win and we'll take it," Wakamatsu said with a laugh.
So will the Mariners, who, by surviving the trip and the pre-Lee portion of their schedule, have bought themselves time to get it right.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
For the record
vs. AL West: 4-6
vs. L.A.: 0-0
vs. Oakland: 3-4
vs. Texas: 1-2
vs. AL East: 3-0
vs. AL Cent: 4-5
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 3-3
vs. RHP: 8-8
Extra inngs.: 0-2
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.