July 31, 2011 in Sports

Young players lead charge as Mariners nip Rays

Kirby Arnold Everett Herald
 
Associated Press photo

Mariners starter Michael Pineda limited Tampa Bay to one hit in 6 1/3 innings.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – While manager Eric Wedge continues to yearn for a veteran to make a consistently positive impact on the Seattle Mariners’ offense, the reality is that the young players are left to do it.

Saturday, two of them were the difference in the Mariners’ 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field.

Rookie second baseman Dustin Ackley hit a two-run homer in the first inning and double in the sixth, and 25-year-old left fielder Mike Carp drove Ackley home with a single in the sixth.

Those clutch hits, along with rookie starter Michael Pineda’s one-hit pitching through 6 1/3 innings, gave the Mariners their first home victory since July 3.

“It’s nice to see those kids in the middle get it done for us today,” Wedge said.

Without them, it would have been another game when scoring would have to happen by prayer.

Of the veterans, only Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Bard and Chone Figgins got hits.

“We keep pushing for the veteran guys to be a little bit better,” Wedge said. “Obviously, we’ve made some changes and we’ll continue to do what we can to be a better ballclub. The young kids we’re building with, who we’re trying to answer questions about, they’re the key as you move forward. We’ve got quite a few up here and we’ve got more coming.

“But you also have to have a nice group of veteran ballplayers, either veterans who we get going or we’ll make adjustments.”

Among those on notice is center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, 0 for 6 on this homestand and batting .187 for the season. With Casper Wells, acquired in Saturday’s trade with the Tigers, expected to join the team today, Wedge will have another young option in the outfield.

The biggest concern among the young players is first baseman Justin Smoak, who struck out twice in a 0-for-3 game and is on a 0-for-14 streak. He’s hitting .218.

The least of the Mariners’ worries is Ackley, who’s batting .310 and is sixth on the team with 20 RBIs despite 129 at-bats.

In his first at-bat, Ackley worked Rays starter Alex Cobb into a full count, then unloaded on a change-up. He drove it over the center-field fence for a two-run homer.

Ackley described the at-bat like he’s a veteran hitter with an approach – something Wedge has demanded but rarely seen of the older players.

“On a 3-2 count, you know the guy’s going to try and throw something over the plate and not walk you,” Ackley said. “I just looked fastball. His fastball was low to mid 90s. I’d seen all his pitches to that point.”

Same thing with Carp, who was batting cleanup for the first time as a big leaguer. He lined a change-up into right field to score Ackley, breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning, giving him five RBIs in his past three games.

Brandon League, in his first save opportunity since July 5, got three straight outs in the ninth to record his 24th save.

Mariners 3, Rays 2

Tampa Bay ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
Jennings lf 300003.379
Damon dh 310010.272
Zobrist 2b 401201.278
Kotchman 1b 400002.325
Longoria 3b 200021.231
Joyce rf 200011.279
B.Upton cf 300002.226
Chirinos c 300002.172
S.Rodriguez ss 210001.215
Totals 26212413
Seattle ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
I.Suzuki rf 411001.269
Ryan ss 400003.257
Ackley dh 322200.310
Carp lf 301102.284
Smoak 1b 300002.218
F.Gutierrez cf 300002.187
J.Bard c 301000.233
Figgins 3b 301000.184
Ja.Wilson 2b 200010.226
Totals 28363110
Tampa Bay 000101000—210
Seattle 20000100x—361

E—J.Bard (2). LOB—Tampa Bay 3, Seattle 2. 2B—Ackley (9). HR—Ackley (5). RBIs—Zobrist 2 (58), Ackley 2 (20), Carp (9). SB—Damon (9), Figgins (11). CS—Zobrist (4). S—Jennings. RLISP—Tampa Bay 1, Seattle 1. RMU—Damon, Zobrist. GIDP—Smoak, Figgins. DP—Tampa Bay 2.

Tampa Bay IPHRERBBSOERA
Cobb L, 3-1 61/3633192.79
Howell 2/3000008.68
Jo.Peralta 1000013.75
Seattle IPHRERBBSOERA
Pineda W, 9-7 61/31214103.53
Gray H, 1 12/3000022.70
League S, 24-28 1000013.10

IR-S—Howell 1-0, Gray 2-0. HBP—S.Rodriguez. T—2:24. A—24,985 (47,878).

SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
August
July 31

TB

1:10

1

OAK

7:10

2

OAK

7:10

3

OAK

7:10

45

LAA

7:05

6

LAA

6:05

7

LAA

12:35

8

TEX

5:05

9

TEX

5:05

10

TEX

5:05

1112

BOS

7:10

13

BOS

7:10

14

BOS

1:10

15

TOR

7:10

16

TOR

7:10

17

TOR

7:10

1819

TB

4:10

20

TB

4:10

21

TB

10:40

22

CLE

4:05

23

CLE

4:05

24

CLE

9:05

2526

CWS

7:10

27

CWS

7:10

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