Saunders rebounds, helps Mariners cool off White Sox
An emotional player at the best of times, Michael Saunders needed his wife to calm him down with a postgame chat after Friday's series opener...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ Chicago White Sox, 11:10 a.m., ROOT Sports
CHICAGO — An emotional player at the best of times, Michael Saunders needed his wife to calm him down with a postgame chat after Friday's series opener.
Getting hit in the face by a fly ball that helped cost the Mariners a game will do that to a player. But Saunders and his teammates were doing more cheering than chatting less than 24 hours later, once they'd completed a dramatic 10-8 victory in 12 innings over the Chicago White Sox.
This Saturday afternoon thriller, in which Saunders rebounded with a career-high four hits, saw his team pull several quick turnarounds as a group. The Mariners kept jumping ahead, then blowing leads before finally scoring in the 12th to end Chicago's nine-game winning streak.
"Yesterday was obviously a really tough game for me," Saunders said. "But that's the beauty of baseball. You get to come here and play again today. We'll be able to play again tomorrow, so I can't get too high about today because this game will humble you quick."
Still, the Mariners were clearly pumped by the way they hung in there in this one and halted the hottest team in the majors in front of 26,200 fans at U.S. Cellular Field. The Mariners could be heard cheering loudly for several moments afterward behind closed doors in the clubhouse.
John Jaso doubled home the decisive run in the 12th against reliever Addison Reed. Chone Figgins added a key insurance run on a single, and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma closed it out by getting an Adam Dunn ground out with a runner on to notch the save.
Tom Wilhelmsen tossed three scoreless innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts and got the win.
Saunders hit one of four home runs off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. Two were by Ichiro in the first and third. Justin Smoak hit one in the second, and Saunders went deep with a man aboard in the fourth to give the Mariners a 5-3 lead.
"I was more hurt, I think, than pissed off," Saunders said. "Like I said, last night was on me. I took responsibility for the loss with that mistake in center. I got to talk to my wife a little bit, and she calmed me down. She reminded me that we get to come out here again."
The Mariners needed every one of those blasts because starter Hector Noesi served up home runs to A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios and then Gordon Beckham in the fifth to fall behind 6-5. The Beckham homer came on an 0-2 hanging slider.
Noesi was pulled from the game at that point. Chicago scored again to go up 7-5 and looked in total control. But then the Mariners launched a three-run rally in the eighth to retake the lead.
But the Mariners couldn't hold on as Dayan Viciedo hit a two-out solo homer off Mariners newcomer Stephen Pryor to tie it in the bottom of the inning.
Wilhelmsen fought to keep things even, matching his career best for innings and strikeouts.
"Both teams were fighting, fighting, fighting, and today we came out on top," he said.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that, win or lose, he was going to be proud of how his hitters kept battling back. The Mariners have scored 10 runs or more in three of their last four games against two division leaders.
"Regardless of who we're playing and where we're playing, we're going to come out and approach the game the same way," he said.