Mariners 2, Tigers 1
All it took was two clutch at-bats for John Jaso to get a new
title in the Seattle clubhouse.
”Best clutch hitter ever!” Miguel Olivo shouted toward Jaso
from just a few feet away.
For the second time in three games, Jaso came through in the
late innings for the Mariners. Jaso lined a single over Detroit’s
drawn-in infield in the eighth inning Wednesday night to drive in
Michael Saunders with the tiebreaking run, Jason Vargas pitched
eight strong innings and the Mariners beat the Tigers 2-1.
Jaso’s single off reliever Duane Below was hit so hard shortstop
Jhonny Peralta barely had time to react before it was landing in
the outfield grass and Saunders was jogging home with the go-ahead
run. Saunders had led off the eighth inning with a pinch-hit double
down the left-field line.
The late run capped a brief, but successful homestand for the
Mariners, who took four of six from Minnesota and Detroit, and
twice picked up wins thanks to Jaso’s bat. Jaso had the
game-winning RBI in Monday’s series opener against the Tigers when
Seattle rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, capped by
Jaso’s sacrifice fly that scored Munenori Kawasaki with the winning
”I don’t think I thrive. I don’t think I get more energy from
it. It’s just the way I am I guess,” Jaso said of the late-inning
heroics. ”I’ve been in a couple of championship situations … and
I just treat it like every other game. I’ve taught myself to do it
and I try not to get too high or too low and stay as level as
Jaso’s single was the needed capper to back what Vargas did on
the mound. Vargas (4-2) threw a season-high eight innings, striking
out six and giving up just five hits. He outpitched young Detroit
starter Drew Smyly, who gave up just two hits but was pulled after
Though Vargas had thrown only 90 pitches, Seattle manager Eric
Wedge went to closer Brandon League in the ninth. League
immediately fell behind Austin Jackson 3-0 and walked him on a 3-2
pitch. However, Jackson was quickly erased when shortstop Brendan
Ryan made his third strong defensive play in the game, this one
starting a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Brennan Boesch. League
then got Miguel Cabrera to end it for his eighth save in 10 chances
Earlier in the game, Ryan had made a barehanded grab and throw
to get Jackson and stole a base hit from Prince Fielder leading off
”Brendan Ryan had an unbelievable game,” Wedge said. ”We talk
about it time and time again, that’s why we’re really working to
try and get his bat going because he is so valuable to us.
While Jaso will get the accolades, Saunders’ at-bat was just as
important. Saunders pinch-hit for Casper Wells to lead off the
eighth inning and lined a double down the left-field line off
Detroit reliever Luke Putkonen (0-1) in just his second major
league appearance. Saunders advanced to third after Chone Figgins’
sacrifice bunt. That was it for Putkonen, who was replaced by Below
to face Jaso.
Below got the count to 2-2 on Jaso before his hit. Jaso got
greedy and was thrown out trying to advance to second on the
”He threw a slider down and away, but it happened to stay up in
the zone,” Detroit catcher Gerald Laird said. ”He’s a big league
hitter and he took a good swing.”
Seattle didn’t get its first hit off Smyly until one out in the
fourth inning when Ichiro Suzuki softly served a single into
left-center field. Suzuki stole second and scored when Kyle Seager
lined Smyly’s pitch off the wall down the right-field line, missing
a home run by just a couple of feet. It was Seager’s ninth RBI
during the Mariners’ six-game homestand and his 10th two-out RBI
over the past eight games.
The sixth was the only inning Vargas was knocked around when
Laird led off with a double and scored on Jackson’s sacrifice fly
to deep center. That inning was highlighted by another defensive
gem when Seager gloved Cabrera’s one-hop smash and started an
inning-ending double play.
The Mariners lefty retired 12 of the first 13 batters, the only
hit coming on Peralta’s single leading off the third. Vargas
pitched into the eighth for the first time this season in his most
efficient performance. Vargas said he would have liked to go back
out for the ninth at only 90 pitches, but understood the decision
to go to League.
”I was ready to go out there and finish it,” Vargas said.
”You always want to throw a complete game when you can but Brandon
has done pretty good over here so I think we’ll let him close it
down in the ninth.”
NOTES: Detroit C Alex Avila’s sore patella tendon was feeling
better on Wednesday and he’ll be re-examined before the Tigers open
a four-game series Thursday in Oakland. … Seattle 2B Dustin
Ackley was given his second day off of the season on Wednesday.
Ackley has struggled hitting just .238. … Jaso became just the
second Seattle catcher to bat leadoff and the first since 1978.