Washburn delivers superb start in win
Mariners overcome club-record 18 men left on base
SAN DIEGO -- It had been so long since Jarrod Washburn won a game that it didn't really matter that the Mariners left more runners on base Friday night than any nine-inning game in franchise history.And being instructed to walk a batter intentionally wasn't so bad, either.
On a night the Mariners set a franchise record by leaving 18 runners on base, the runners that did score were more than enough for Washburn and Seattle to notch a 5-2 Interleague victory over the Padres in front of 28,640 at PETCO Park."I can't remember winning a game when we left 18 runners, especially in a nine-inning game," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "A lot of guys thought they could have had some RBIs tonight. But the key is you are trying to win a ballgame, we won it and we're happy about that. "The situational hitting was not there tonight, but when their guy had to make a pitch early in the ballgame to get out of trouble, he did it." The previous club record for runners left on base in a nine-inning game was 16 -- done three times, the most recent being against the Red Sox on July 20, 2004. Washburn spent more time in the third-base dugout than he did on the mound. "There were a lot of long innings and I usually don't like that," Washburn said. "But it didn't affect me tonight, other than the first batter I seemed to fall behind 3-0. But I bounced back." Since the start of the 2005 season, Washburn has received the lowest run support among all American League starters -- 4.35 runs per outing. The Mariners have scored two or fewer runs in 50 of his previous 105 starts. But he's been around long enough not to take the lack-of-support personally. He entered the series opener against the Padres on a streak of three consecutive quality starts -- and no wins. His 2-7 record looked worse on paper than it did on the pitching chart the team keeps on every starting pitcher. Through it all, he has hung in there, hoping that a feel-good outing would result in a victory. He could finally smile as he talked about the 96th victory of his Major League career. It was a long time coming. His last win came on May 5, when he defeated the Rangers at Safeco Field. Even when he pitched well, which has been practically every start since then, it wasn't quite good enough to win because of the lack of run support. The first three innings on the Interleague series opener epitomized his two-plus seasons with Seattle. The Mariners loaded the bases with one out before Richie Sexson and Kenji Johjima struck out. They loaded the bases in the second inning, and did not score. They stranded two more runners in the third. It looked all too familiar, but he refused to let the missed chances affect him. "You can't think things like that," Washburn said. "All I could do was to try to keep doing my job." The sea of powder blue continued as the Mariners stranded two runners in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. But it was in the fourth that Seattle finally broke through and scored off wobbly Padres starter Randy Wolf. After Washburn grounded out to begin the inning, Ichiro Suzuki singled to left field and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Jose Lopez. Raul Ibanez scored Ichiro with a singled and advanced to second on an error. Adrian Beltre followed with a two-run single up the middle, giving the Mariners a 3-0 lead. That would be enough for Washburn, who held the Padres to four singles over the first six innings and took a four-run lead into the seventh. Half the lead was erased when Kevin Kouzmanoff reached on a leadoff double and Chase Headley followed with a home run. Washburn retired the next three batters in the seventh and the first two in the eighth before Brian Giles tripled, prompting Riggleman to eventually issue an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres' biggest home-run threat. "I don't like intentional walks," Washburn said. "He's one of better hitters in the game and I like to challenge hitters like that. It was the smart thing to do, but I wasn't happy at the time." Riggleman gave Washburn a couple of pitches to see if Gonzalez would chase one, but when he didn't and the count went to 2-0, the intentional pass was ordered and right-hander Brandon Morrow came in to get the final out of the inning. Morrow retired Kouzmanoff on a grounder to second base to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth to notch his third save. "It was a nice win and a very well-pitched ballgame," Riggleman said, "but 18 left on ... "
The clock was turned back so far on Friday night that many of the Mariners weren't even born when the uniforms they wore in the Interleague series opener were in vogue.That was 30 years ago, and there are more similarities than the powder blue uniforms Seattle wore on Retro Night at PETCO Park.
* The 1978 Mariners had a 27-52 record after 79 games, and finished with a 56-104 mark, seventh in the AL West and 35 games out of first place.* Right fielder Leon Roberts led the team in batting average (.301), home runs (22) and RBIs (92), but shortstop Craig Reynolds represented the Mariners at the All-Star Game. * Right-hander Enrique Romo led the team in wins with 11 and never started a game. The five pitchers with the most starts all lost at least 10 games. * The Mariners drew 877,440 at the Kingdome in '78, and the team payroll was $1.46 million, ranking them 24th in the Major Leagues ahead of the Twins and Athletics. The Yankees, in case you were wondering, led the Majors with a payroll of $4.72 million.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.