SEATTLE – In their 100th game, the Seattle Mariners said hello again to winning one-run baseball Tuesday night. There were continuing indications that they were about to say good-bye to pitcher Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn gave Seattle another solid start in a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field, delivered on Ichiro Suzuki’s first career game-ending hit in the ninth inning.
Then Washburn returned to the world of trade speculation. Various reports indicated the Mariners were listening to trade offers approaching Friday’s 1 p.m. PST trade deadline.
“There’s no question it’s on my mind,” Washburn said. “There have been all the questions being asked, people calling asking ‘Is it true?’ But it didn’t come between the lines.”
Speculation gained legs Tuesday night in Reno, Nev., where former first-round draft pick Jeff Clement was pulled for a pinch hitter in the third inning of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers’ game against the Reno Aces. Clement, who didn’t impress the Mariners’ new regime with his catching at spring training, has been mentioned frequently in trade speculation.
Washburn, meanwhile, took the mound ignoring all the speculation and pitched another strong game.
He gave up one run on five hits in seven innings and left the game leading 3-1. He didn’t get the decision, leaving his record 8-6, but his earned run average dropped to 2.64.
The Mariners gave Washburn a run in the first inning on Mike Sweeney’s RBI ground out scored Ichiro, then two in the sixth on an RBI double by Chris Shelton and an RBI single by Jack Hannahan.
It put Washburn in line to win his fifth straight decision.
Instead, it became a no-decision when the Blue Jays scored twice in the eighth off Mark Lowe, who gave up three doubles that tied the score at 3. Lowe struck out Lyle Overbay to end that threat, and David Aardsma pitched around a leadoff single by Joe Inglett before getting three outs in the top of the ninth.
The Mariners won it in the bottom on a rarity – a game-ending hit by Ichiro.
Hannahan singled off Blue Jays left-hander Scott Downs, who followed that by walking Rob Johnson.
Chris Woodward bunted between the third-base line and the mound, but Downs mishandled the ball – ruled a base hit – to load the bases with nobody out.
Jose Lopez, who didn’t start the past two games because of a bad back, pinch hit for Michael Saunders and hit a one-hopper to third, where Scott Rolen fielded it and threw home to force Hannahan for the first out. Ronny Cedeno struck out on three pitches for the second out, putting the game on Ichiro’s bat.
Downs made Ichiro look feeble in getting two quick strikes, including strike two on a breaking pitch that had Ichiro lunging. Downs threw another pitch that broke down and away, and Ichiro lunged again. This time, he made just enough contact to bloop the ball into center field. It was his 1,953rd career hit, but the first to win a game on the last at-bat.
“The pitch was about an inch off the ground,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “The beauty of his swing is that he can keep it in motion and keep it going forward and keep the bat in the zone a long time.”
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