Wells' three-run double leads Mariners over Orioles
SEATTLE For the vast majority of this latest home game adventure, the Seattle Mariners seemed headed toward a predictable conclusion.
They’d fielded a makeshift lineup for injury and merit reasons, then couldn’t buy a hit when it mattered after the visiting Baltimore Orioles had capitalized big on the precious few they managed. But the tide finally turned into what became a 6-3 victory on Monday night when Casper Wells did what few Mariners hitters had managed before him throughout this homestand.
Wells, a former Schenectady High School standout, came through with a bases-clearing, two-out double in the seventh inning, which turned a deficit into a lead for a Mariners team that finally found the ignition switch to a multiple-run rally.
“It’s huge, coming off such tight games with the Red Sox,“ Wells said. “To be able to pull out ... it was a good all-around team effort.“
The all-around part came from a pitching staff that held the Orioles to just three hits. Hisashi Iwakuma gave up all of them in a five-inning, long-awaited major league debut as a starter.
Steve Delabar, Shawn Kelley and Tom Wilhelmsen kicked in four hitless innings of relief. Delabar picked up the victory by tossing two scoreless innings while Wilhelmsen added the save by pitching his third straight day as rumors surfaced that the Mariners might attempt to deal him by the July 31 trade deadline.
But for the longest time, it seemed like one of the hits allowed by Iwakuma - a three-run homer crushed to right field by Chris Davis in the fourth inning for a 3-1 lead - would be enough for the victory.
A crowd of 14,805 at Safeco Field had seen the Mariners squander a sixth-inning chance with runners at second and third and one out, then saw Brendan Ryan pop out foul to the catcher with runners at the corners and one out in the seventh. But Ichiro drew a two-out walk off Orioles starter Jason Hammel to load the bases and bring up Wells, who took a first-pitch strike before lining a slider to the right-center gap.
“I saw quite a bunch of those,“ Wells said of Hammel’s slider. “He’s got a pretty good one. He left it up. I knew he was going to be around the strike zone. There was nowhere else to go. The bases were pretty jam-packed there.“
Wells helped open the offensive floodgates after his double gave Seattle a 4-3 lead. In the eighth, Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley delivered back-to-back home runs to provide Wilhelmsen some needed insurance.
It was Ackley’s first home run in more than a month and his first long ball at Safeco Field in nearly a year, dating to last July 30.
Wells had been 2 for 19 on the homestand before rallying with hits his final two at-bats. But he’d delivered a big hit Thursday night in a win over Boston, as well as some others before the homestand.
“There’s no room to be thinking about yourself or anything when you’re up at the plate,“ Wells said. “You’ve got to focus on the pitcher and have your energy sent out towards him so you can try to battle him. That’s all you’re going to be doing out there.“
And the Mariners did battle on a night they saw struggling first baseman Justin Smoak and catcher Jesus Montero on the bench. The makeshift lineup included Ackley at first base and Munenori Kawasaki at second - the latter move allowing the Mariners to start three Japanese players on the field in a game for the first time in major-league history.