SEATTLE – Few will truthfully say they were there the night Chone Figgins and Ichiro both flexed some home-run power in the same inning.
But those who were among the record-low Seattle Mariners home crowd at Safeco Field on Wednesday night know that some good little swings can go a long, long way.
Cleveland Indians starter Derek Lowe had to know it wasn’t his night when the long balls flew out in the first inning of what became a 4-1 win by the Mariners.
As if seeing two career singles hitters go deep for the first time wasn’t bad enough, Lowe then had to suffer the indignity of being worked for six walks in only 4 1/3 innings before the plug was mercifully pulled. The Mariners had made Lowe throw a whopping 113 pitches during that span, much to the delight of the announced 11,343 on-hand.
The team’s previous record low home crowd was 11,701 last May against the Baltimore Orioles.
There were also just 10,925 at a game last June when the Marlins were in town, but they were the home team for that affair and the tickets sold were mostly walk-up purchases.
Unlike the debacle in Tuesday night’s loss, when the Mariners blew an 8-1 lead, they managed to hold on to their much smaller advantage this time. Mariners starter Jason Vargas made some folks nervous in the sixth inning by allowing Cleveland to load the bases with only one out.
But Vargas rallied with a strikeout of Shelley Duncan, then got former Mariners infielder Jose Lopez to hit into a broken-bat fielder’s choice to end the threat.
Vargas went on to throw seven innings, allowing just a run on four hits for his second victory of the season. The Mariners added to their 2-0 lead in the second inning when Jesus Montero drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run.
Cleveland got on the board in a controversial start to the third inning when Aaron Cunningham drove a ball off the very top of the wall in left field. The ball hit the wall before bouncing back on to the field of play.
It was initially ruled a double, but umpires went to video replay review after Indians manager Manny Acta came out to ask for one. The initial ruling was upheld after a delay of 1 minute, 20 seconds.
Cunningham was sacrificed over to third base, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Kipnis to make it a 3-1 game.
But the Mariners regained their three-run lead in the fourth inning when Brendan Ryan walked, took third on a Figgins single and scored on an ensuing single by Dustin Ackley.
Figgins reached base three times on the night after a 4-for-30 slump, dating back to the start of a series in Texas last week that knocked his average down to .234.
Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo barely moved as the eighth leadoff home run of Figgins’ career left the yard to right center.
Two batters later, Ichiro sent his home run out to the same right-center location.
Kyle Seager doubled to right-center soon after that before Lowe eventually got out of the inning with no further hits allowed.