Updated May 8, 2012 - 9:45 am
Mariners offense shows up when it matters most against the Tigers
The Mariners made scoring runs look easy in the ninth inning against the Tigers Monday night. With an assist from a wild Octavio Dotel, which they were more than willing to take, the top and the middle of the order got the job done in their 3-2 walkoff win.
Once again the Mariners were able to take advantage of a struggling pitcher and once again I will say that is something that shouldn't be taken for granted with what we have seen in recent years. This was different, though. I don't think there was a person in the ballpark who didn't feel good about having the tying run on second with nobody out and Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager and John Jaso if necessary coming up.
So I ask you: how do you feel about the middle of the order right now?
Of course we wouldn't be talking about this of Hisashi Iwakuma and a good part of the rest of the pen didn't hold down all but three innings of the game after Blake Beavan had to leave with an elbow bruise.
Iwakuma looked as if he was finally ready for the season. His velocity was up, his command was solid and his splitter was really moving. He worked relatively quickly and was able to get ready in a half an inning. He told me after the game that having the splitter working was big for him as was getting more accustomed to coming out of the pen. It was an outing that he needed and said helped him feel more a part of the team in contributing to a win.
News and notes:
Blake Beavan suffered a bruised elbow after getting hit by a rocket of a comebacker off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. The good news is X-rays on the elbow came back negative but there will be swelling. His next start is in question. In order to make that start he will have to pitch a bullpen in the next few days. If he is unable to do so, Eric Wedge indicated that Iwakuma very well could make that start.
John Jaso came through with the game winning sac fly, a first for him he told me on the field after the win.
"That was a great feeling," he said. "Right before that pitch I thought to myself I have never got a walkoff anything before in my career."
Keep an eye on Stephen Pryor, who was promoted from AA to AAA Tacoma on Monday. Pryor is thought by many to be the closer of the future for the team. He is one step closer and several teams have a need for closers right now. Jack Zduriencik will not give Brandon League away but I am sure his ears are open to a possible deal.
Health update: Miguel Olivo is making rapid progress in his recovery from a strained groin. He is taking swings in the cages, throwing and running on a treadmill. He said he feels great and the big hurdle for him will be sliding side-to-side to block pitches. The current plan is for him to stay back and continue treatment when the team leaves on the 10-day road trip Thursday but if all goes well he could join them on the road to catch a few bullpens.
Olivo was out on the dugout rail while the team took batting practice, chatting with a couple of reporters. A neat moment occurred while we were chatting. I looked up and saw Tigers manager Jim Leyland crossing the field to where we were. He shook Olivo's hand and asked how he was doing. Olivo told him that he would be back soon.
"Not against us?" Leyland asked.
"No, you'll miss me," said Olivo.
It is very unusual to see an opposing manager come all the way to the other side of the field to talk to one of the home players. I asked Olivo if he played for him when he was with the Marlins and he said no, he has never played for him and that since Leyland has been with the Tigers he had always come over to say hello.
Finally, Jack Zduriencik will be joining us on the postgame show after Tuesday's game. Jack was at AA Jackson last week so count on hearing a detailed Hultzen/Paxton/Walker update plus more.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.