KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chone Figgins insisted after a wild victory by his Seattle Mariners that he’s actually been feeling comfortable at the plate since last weekend in Chicago.
His numbers certainly didn’t support it, with Figgins just 4 for 38 the past two weeks heading into Wednesday’s finale of a trip that finished a whole lot better for Seattle than it began. But after he’d delivered a pair of hits, including a two-run triple, to ignite a top-of-the-order eruption in a 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, the speedy infielder insisted that good hitting is all about how a guy feels.
“It’s just getting in the box and being comfortable with your feet,” Figgins said as his Mariners packed for the trip home, having taken two of thee from the Royals. “Getting comfortable with your feet, most guys will tell you they feel they’re ready to attack the ball.”
That’s what Figgins and company did in front of 13,206 fans at Kauffman Stadium, piling on the hits against former Mariners starter Gil Meche. Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki accounted for five of Seattle’s 11 hits on the day and reached base six times between them. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said before the game that his team needed more offensive balance across the entire lineup.
He got it on this day, with Ichiro and Figgins putting on a show, while the bottom three hitters – Casey Kotchman, Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson – contributed two doubles among three hits, as well as two critical sacrifice flies.
It was Johnson’s sacrifice fly down the left-field line in the eighth that scored Milton Bradley with the decisive run after the Mariners had blown what seemed an insurmountable lead.
Ryan Rowland-Smith cruised to a 5-1 lead through five innings, allowing just a leadoff home run in the first by David DeJesus.
But the wind and sun had wreaked havoc on fielders all days long and punished Rowland-Smith in the sixth when a pop fly to shallow right field by Jason Kendall fell between Figgins and Ichiro.
Instead of the inning being over right there, two runs scored and then an ensuing two-run triple tied the game and ruined Rowland-Smith’s day.
“I was happy with the way I threw the ball,” said Rowland-Smith, who used a change-up and a much sharper slider to notch four strikeouts and numerous ground balls. “Just that bloop single. That’s just the kind of break I didn’t get. But I’d rather deal with that stuff in April than in September.”
Figgins said he and Ichiro couldn’t find the ball.
“It was tough because the sun was right over me and him,” he said. “By the time it came out, it kind of fell in between us.”
Mariners shortstop Wilson had lost an earlier pop-up in the sun and allowed it to fall for a single. But he made up for it with a defensive gem to end the eighth, ranging deep in the hole to his right, then leaping, twirling his body and firing a long strike to third base while still in midair to nab former Pittsburgh teammate Kendall.
“It’s one of those things I’ve been teaching myself to do,” Wilson said. “That ball comes up 20 or 25 times a year, when you have to make that jump.”
Mariners 6, Royals 5
LOB—Seattle 9, Kansas City 4. 2B—I.Suzuki (4), Bradley (4), Kotchman (7), J.Wilson (6). 3B—Figgins (1), Maier (3). HR—DeJesus (3), off Rowland-Smith. RBIs—I.Suzuki (3), Figgins 2 (7), Ro.Johnson (4), J.Wilson (7), DeJesus (11), Kendall 2 (4), Maier 2 (5). SB—Figgins (5). SF—Ro.Johnson, J.Wilson. RLISP—Seattle 5 (Bradley, Jo.Lopez, I.Suzuki, M.Sweeney 2); Kansas City 2 (Bloomquist 2). RMU—M.Sweeney. GIDP—Ro.Johnson, Callaspo, Bloomquist. DP—Seattle 2 (J.Wilson, Kotchman), (Figgins, J.Wilson, Kotchman); Kansas City 1 (Y.Betancourt, Bloomquist, B.Butler).
|League W,3-1||1 1/3||0||0||0||0||1||2.38|
|Thompson L,0-1||1 1/3||1||1||1||0||2||5.40|
IR-S—League 1-0, D.Hughes 1-1, Tejeda 1-0. HBP—by Rowland-Smith (B.Butler). WP—Rowland-Smith. T—2:46. A—13,206 (37,840).