SEATTLE – One bad pitch can cost a team facing one of the top pitchers in the league.
In Jarrod Washburn’s case, one great pitch also helped beat him and the Seattle Mariners in a 6-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Friday at Safeco Field.
Washburn appeared to have Gary Sheffield struck out during a critical at-bat after the Tigers had loaded the bases with nobody out in the third inning. Plate umpire Brian Runge said Washburn’s two-strike pitch missed the outside corner at the knees.
“I threw the 1-2 fastball right where I wanted it,” Washburn said.
On the next pitch, he threw a changeup and Sheffield launched a grand slam that gave the Tigers a lead they never lost.
“One bad pitch, and one of the best RBI guys in the league hit one out,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “Sheffield is an RBI machine.”
Sheffield has 62 RBIs this season, giving the Tigers three hitters with at least that many. Magglio Ordonez has 72 and Carlos Guillen 67.
“Good teams capitalize on mistakes,” McLaren said. “These are two very good ballclubs.”
Sheffield’s blast, along with an unearned run because of a throwing error and Sean Casey’s solo home run off Brandon Morrow, were enough for the Tigers to end the Mariners’ four-game winning streak.
It also stopped their nine-game home winning streak and, with the Los Angeles Angels beating the Texas Rangers, pushed the Mariners to three games out of first place in the American League West Division.
In addition to Sheffield, Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman (10-1) was too much for the Mariners.
Bonderman, who starred at Pasco High School, held the Mariners to six hits, including solo home runs by Jose Guillen and Adrian Beltre.
Jose Guillen’s leadoff homer in the second gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead before Sheffield turned the score around in the third.
The Mariners got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third when Yuniesky Betancourt hit a leadoff single and scored on Jose Vidro’s two-out double, making the score 4-2.
After the Tigers scored single runs in the sixth and seventh for a 6-2 lead, Beltre got one of them back with his homer in the bottom of the seventh, his 14th this season.
The Mariners put two runners on base with two outs in the ninth against Tigers closer Todd Jones. Pinch-hitter Ben Broussard worked a full count and fouled off two pitches.
Jones then struck him out with a chest-high 98 mph fastball for his 23rd save.