On a Monday evening, with weather better suited for college football, the Tigers began a four game play date with the Seattle Mariners. For those of you that haven’t spent your Summer evenings cramming in West Coast 10 pm start time ball games…I’ll catch you up. These aren’t your college ex-girlfriend’s Mariners! Long gone are any remnants of those: Junior, Jay Buhner or Joey Cora-led sailors. Heck, Seattle fans haven’t had a playoff team since Dr. Frasier Crane was duking it out with his producer Roz, on the airwaves of KACL radio. But the Tigers can’t pick their opposition, and the team from the Emerald City had been on the schedule for almost a year…so we might as well play them!
As has been the trend of late, both the Tigers’ and their foe’s bats…have been groggy. Facing Joe Saunders, the most charitable pitcher in 1st innings since the All-Star break (per FSD’s Rod Allen.) In the opening frame, the good guys benefited from a Saunders’ wild pitch, that plated everybody’s favorite Torii. At the end of one, there were two wild pitches- one by each starter. One was costly, one was not. Tigers up 1-0.
“Little Ricky” (Porcello) was having a nice, economical start the first time through the M’s lineup. That was until one of his pitches ran into the bat of someone named Abraham Almonte. A solo home run later, and I was asking aloud,” is this guy related to the (infamous) Danny Almonte ??!!” (Someone check his birth certificate…) But I digress. Saunders had settled down, and a third of the way through the game, we’re all squared up at ones.
It had all the makings of another “one of THOSE games” as the Tigers couldn’t muster any sort of offensive threat- versus Saunders after the first. Not to be undone, Porcello kept accumulating the eleventh letter of the alphabet (K’s) and did his best to vanquish the Seattle bats. Fast forward to the 6th. With neither team gaining any control of the contest thus far, the “Ricker” strikes out a trio of Mariners, and it feels like his biggest enemy at that point…was the pitch count (100+) This is ultimately his last inning of work, and since the ”Fright night at Fenway” start, his line: 15 innings, 15 strikeouts, 2 earned runs!!
With 2 Tigers already out in the bottom of the 6th, the beef of the order manufactured a little magic. A walk to Miggy, a single by the Prince and Detroit was primed for somebody, anybody…to just be “clutch.” Now playing the role of said clutch character…Victor Martinez. Nobody on Mother Earth has more post-Independence Day hits than V-Mart. I mean, the last word in his job description does say “HITTER.” Victor laces one down the right field, and the RF Almonte, played the ball like an *elderly woman behind the counter in a small town* (Pearl Jam reference.) Cabrera leisurely comes in to score, and the M’s still aren’t out of the woods just yet. Omar Infante finds some outfield real estate to his liking, and the home squad finds themselves up 3-1 after 6.
Enter Drew Smyly, exit Mariners’ batters…1-2-3. Bottom half of the 7th, and the Tigers found themselves one of those cool “insurance” runs. The M’s bring in Wilhelmsen (was he on “Hogan’s Heroes” ?) Alex Avila drills a pitch off the pitcher, for an infield hit and hung around until Hunter drove him in. In the Seattle 8th, Raul Ibanez doubled off Smyly to keep things *interesting.* Ibanez is so old, he remembers when the city of Seattle…was still part of Russia He gets driven in, Veras tidies up for Smyly…we’re up 4-2 going to the bottom of 8.
The 9th summons Joaquin Benoit from the leftfield man cave (bullpen.) He gets an Infante-Iglesias double play, then blows away Dustin Ackley on a 95 mph’er, to end the game with spicy strikeout flavorings.
Rick Porcello earned a much deserved 4-2 victory. The Tigers clip their magic number down to 8 (fewer, if KC holds on against the Tribe.) They have Sanchez going tomorrow, against a pitcher with an E.R.A almost 5 runs a game higher ! Detroit takes the first one, and you can put that in your Hazelnut Macchiato and Smoak it !!