The streak is over. And the Mariners might – might – have a new closer. Those revelations came Saturday night during Seattle’s 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, which snapped a seven-game losing streak. Carson Smith, not Fernando Rodney, earned the save. Boy, did he make it look easy.
CF Austin Jackson has been a different hitter since coming off the DL two weeks ago, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that he’s the one who brought the big bat to the most important moment. In the seventh inning, Jackson showed rare power and provided the offense that starter Felix Hernandez needed with a 380-foot solo blast to left field to break a 1-1 tie.
Hernandez picked up right where he left off the last time out – that is, with control problems. Thankfully for the stunned King’s Court, those only lasted three batters before he settled down and pitch seven strong innings. Hernandez wasn’t perfect (unlike his August 2012 start against the Rays), and the only run he allowed came on a wild pitch, but he was much better in his previous start. The big story came in the ninth inning, when Smith came on to retire the side on 10 pitches to earn his first career save. A new closer for the Mariners? Stay tuned.
SS Willie Bloomquist, of all people, ended the Mariners’ streak of 16 innings of scoreless baseball – and a team-wide, 0-for-16 team slump with runners in scoring position — with a fourth-inning RBI single. It wasn’t the opening of a fire hydrant on a warm everning, but it was something. 1B Logan Morrison (3 for 4) continues to do his share, while Jackson has been a man on fire (2 for 4 Saturday and 5 for 10 in the series).
Manager Lloyd McClendon on replacing Rodney with Smith: “It’s an opportunity to clean Fernando up and get some things fixed from a mechanics standpoint. We’ll see how it goes.”
Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria was not in the lineup Saturday because he’s nursing a sore wrist . . . Former Mariner Nick Franklin played for the first time this series. He was the starting first baseman and went 0 for 3. Franklin, who was traded to Tampa Bay in the three-team deal that sent LHP David Price to Detroit and CF Austin Jackson to the Mariners, is hitting .083 . . . Morrison matched a career best of a 13-game hitting streak with his second-inning single.
Watching Erasmo Ramirez silence the Mariners bats Thursday night was tough for any Seattle fan, but it was a little easier to take when considering how LHP Mike Montgomery fared two days earlier. Montgomery (0-0, 1.50 ERA) was the player acquired for Ramirez, and now he’ll get a chance to face the team that traded him in Sunday’s series finale. Ace Chris Archer (6-4, 2.01 ERA) is scheduled to start for Tampa Bay.