Yes, it was only one game. But something about last night’s 3-2 win in Oakland for the Mariners felt like the plans laid in this offseason and previous ones finally paying off.
Even with the offense struggling, Joe Saunders delivered an exceptional start. He allowed just one run in seven in nings of work, and that run shouldn’t have scored. Jason Bay’s miscommunication with Nick Franklin allowed a pop fly to drop in for a double. Yet Saunders persevered, giving the Mariners all he had and earning his first road win of 2013.
Saunders left with a lead too, because Mike Zunino got into one in the seventh, driving a changeup to deep center for his first major league home run. It was promising to see the young catcher hit a big fly in his second game, especially since the Mariners decided that it was his time behind the plate yesterday when they DFA’d Kelly Shoppach.
In the eighth, the Mariners tacked on a huge insurance run that proved to be the winning tally. Michael Morse appeared destined to bounce into a double play with two on and one out, but a key breakup slide by Kyle Seager kept the inning alive. Reclamation project Raul Ibanez delivered yet another big hit in a huge spot and the M’s got the third run they would need to win the game.
Even though Danny Farquhar gave up a leadoff home run to Chris Young in the next inning, the Ichiro trade-product retired the next three batters in order to hold the lead. Then in the ninth, manager Eric Wedge made the correct decision to let someone else close out the game. Oliver Perez replaced the struggling Tom Wilhelmsen in the closer spot and recorded his first career save.
So sure, this was just one game in the middle of June in a season that’s probably already lost. But even so, it was great to see some Jack Zdurencik signings and products deliver the Mariners a win over a top team in the American League.