07/13/08 6:59 PM ET
Mariners win finale on Royals error
Beltre scores go-ahead run in ninth inning on catcher's miscue
By Mark Dent / MLB.com
That's how it feels when you finally win a tight game.
Going into the All-Star break, the Mariners avoided a sweep from the Royals, winning, 4-3, on Sunday and finally got some good fortune after so many things had gone against them in a week that included six losses by two runs or less.
"I don't want to say they're all going our way just yet," Willie Bloomquist said, "but it's nice to end on somewhat of a positive note."
Seattle and Kansas City were tied going into the ninth to nobody's surprise. Saturday's game was decided by one run and Friday's by two. Mistakes doomed the Mariners in both of those losses. This time, the Royals were the ones doing Seattle favors.
Adrian Beltre led off the inning with a fly ball to shallow center that bounced off shortstop Mike Aviles' glove. Beltre made it all the way to second and advanced to third on Jeremy Reed's sacrifice bunt.
With Bloomquist at the plate, manager Jim Riggleman called for a contact play, meaning Beltre would start running when he heard contact.
"You're rolling the dice a little bit," Bloomquist said, "knowing there could be a close play at the plate."
He had no idea.
Bloomquist hit the ball right back to pitcher Joakim Soria, and Beltre had already taken off down the line. Soria threw home, and Beltre turned back to third. Catcher John Buck then overthrew the ball to third base, and Beltre went for home. But it wasn't over yet.
Aviles backed up the play and caught the ball. He probably could've at least came close to getting Beltre out at the plate, but instead threw to second where Bloomquist barely beat the throw. Beltre's run put Seattle on top, 4-3.
"I thought I would have to throw over two people who were obviously a lot taller than me," Aviles said. "I think I'd have probably had to jump to throw and get Beltre at the plate so I opted to go to second."
Reliever Arthur Rhodes got the first out in the ninth. Then Brandon Morrow was warm enough to go. He came into the one-run game, having blown two consecutive saves. This time, he struck out Buck for the second out before facing David DeJesus. DeJesus hit the walk-off home run on Saturday night.
On Sunday, he worked Morrow into a full count, but the closer finally prevailed, getting DeJesus to fly out to left for his ninth save.
"It's nice to be able to get back there the day after," Morrow said, "and now I don't have to sit and have it on my conscience for four days."
Like Morrow, catcher Jeff Clement had a bad streak hanging over his head. He'd been hitless in his last 15 at-bats entering the seventh inning. Clement broke out of the dry spell with a two-run home run.
He was just part of a banner day for the Mariners. Starter Carlos Silva pitched six innings, allowing just two runs. Sean Green and Rhodes were perfect in relief. Bloomquist stole two bases and scored two runs.
It was finally mistake-free baseball.
"Every game has been a one or two run game," Riggleman said. "Crucial plays here or there are going to matter in those games."
The players packed their bags in a hurry on Sunday afternoon. The team bus waited outside, leaving earlier than normal for the airport. From there, a break awaited. That meant home for some, vacations for others. Whatever it was, players responses to questions about whether they were looking forward to the time off ranged from "I can't wait" to "you have no idea."
Yep, after games like Sunday's 4-3 win over the Royals, the clubhouse vibes don't feel like the Mariners have the worst record in the baseball. They got the win, and they're getting a break that will probably feel extra relaxing given the struggles Seattle has gone through all season and in the last few games.
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.