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Mariners' Michael Saunders wishes he'd have been around for all 18 innings
Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders was ejected after striking out in the 10th inning of a game Tuesday that Seattle eventually lost 4-2 to the Orioles in 18 innings.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Michael Saunders said the toughest part of Tuesday's 18-inning marathon was being forced to watch the final eight frames from the clubhouse.
Saunders felt awful about being ejected by plate umpire Jordan Baker for arguing a called third strike that ended the 10th inning with two men on base. Things grew even worse as he watched the Mariners go on to lose, 4-2, to Baltimore.
"Honestly, that made it even more tough, the fact that it kept going and going," Saunders said after the first ejection of his major-league career.
Saunders was even more upset than usual because Baker's call came with the count full and prevented the Mariners from loading the bases. "An error, anything at that point can win us the game, so I guess I let my emotions get the best of me."
After slamming his batting helmet to the ground, Saunders walked down the first-base line — chirping at Baker the entire way with his back turned. Baker did not initially throw Saunders out, but eventually did eject him when the outfielder looked back toward home.
"I think he was kind of waiting to see if I did turn around and I did, so I was rung," Saunders said.
Saunders insists he wasn't trying to show up Baker and that's why he initially walked away from home plate. He says he didn't realize he'd been ejected until crew chief Wally Bell came over and told him — at which point Saunders grew even more irate.
His only other ejection came in the minors. Saunders went into manager Eric Wedge's office after Tuesday's game ended to apologize for his actions. But Wedge said Wednesday he was having none of it.
"I do like the intensity," Wedge said. "I like the fire. For him to be fighting out there and wanting it so bad, for his emotions to get the best of him — I'm all for that."
Not longest for coaches
The game tied for the fourth-longest by innings in Mariners history and the fifth-longest by time at 5 hours, 44 minutes. At least two Mariners coaches have played in longer games, with pitching coach Carl Willis pitching in relief in a 22-inning affair in 1993 for Cleveland in a 5-4 loss to the Twins that took 6 hours, 17 minutes.
Willis pitched scoreless 11th, 12th and 13th innings, though he says he didn't feel any extra pressure to perform because of the length.
M's hitting coach Chris Chambliss was playing for the Braves in 1985 when they lost 16-13 in 19 innings to the Mets in a Fourth of July clash that took 6:10. Chambliss went hitless in a lone pinch-hit appearance and says he remembers how the game "just seemed to drag on and on and on."
Bad news bunting
Wedge was "disappointed" with some of the bad bunt attempts Tuesday. Franklin Gutierrez popped out on a bunt attempt in the 10th after Dustin Ackley reached on a leadoff single.
Casper Wells popped out bunting in the 11th after a leadoff single by Justin Smoak. A couple of weeks back, Trayvon Robinson and Eric Thames popped out bunting during key moments in a loss.
"You have to execute," Wedge said. "And with the type of team we're going to be, we have to do better at that."
Wedge said the team made a point to address good bunting as a priority this season and will have to do the same next year as well.
• Seattle used 25 players in the game, including eight pitchers.
• It was the second-longest game in Safeco Field history, trailing a 19-inning affair played Aug. 1, 2000, when the Mariners edged Boston 5-4.