SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners beat Pedro Martinez on Saturday night.
No, really, they did.
A crowd of 45,841 at Safeco Field can personally attest to that, although that number doesn’t include Mariners manager Mike Hargrove or first baseman Richie Sexson.
Both were ejected during what appeared to be a foreboding first inning.
But without both their manager and what before this week was the heart of their order – Sexson, Adrian Beltre (injured) and Bret Boone (benched) – the Mariners finally did what no Mariners team had ever done before in beating Martinez and his new team, the New York Mets, 4-1.
Before Saturday night, a Martinez win against the Mariners was a better bet than Microsoft stock in the 1980s.
Martinez entered the night 13-0 in 13 career games against the Mariners dating to 1998, 12 of which were starts. In just three of those games – all of which came when Martinez was with the Boston Red Sox – had the Mariners managed to score more than one run against him. In 47 career innings at Safeco Field before Saturday night, Martinez had allowed just four runs, winning all six of his starts here.
But for once, everything went Seattle’s way against Martinez. Bloop flies fell for doubles and bleeders up the middle found their way to the outfield for singles as the Mariners scored all their runs in the fourth.
To add to the improbability quotient, all those hits and runs came with Ryan Franklin – who usually gets less support than Hillary Clinton at a GOP rally – on the mound.
Seattle had scored four runs with Franklin in the game in his last six starts.
The night initially looked little different, as a promising Mariners rally in the first evaporated in controversy.
A Randy Winn double and a single by Raul Ibanez that went off the glove of Martinez gave Seattle runners at second and third, bringing up Sexson with one out.
Sexson, however, grumbled a bit after taking a breaking ball for strike two, then went into full blown-fuse mode when he was called out on the next pitch, which looked both low and outside on TV replays. Ichiro Suzuki had mildly argued a strike call on a similar-looking pitch a few minutes before.
Sexson was quickly ejected by home umpire Dale Scott and had to be pushed away by Hargrove, who then said enough to quickly get the hook himself.
It was the first ejection for each as a Mariner and just the second and third for Seattle this season – Franklin was tossed from a game against Toronto last month.
Sexson – 0 for 12 lifetime against Martinez – didn’t go quietly into the good night, tossing a bucket of balls onto the field after entering the dugout.
Signs that Seattle’s luck might be changing, though, came quickly.
With two out and runners on first and second in the top of the second, Mets first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz hit a liner just inside the bag at first base that seemed sure to score at least a run. But Mariners left fielder Randy Winn – in one of several fine defensive plays for Seattle – got to the ball quickly, then threw just as urgently to third base, beating the slide of David Wright to the bag. The out came just as Piazza was striding home, and Scott ruled that the run didn’t count.
Fine defensive plays by Mike Morse and Jose Lopez in the third and Willie Bloomquist in the fourth extinguished two more Mets threats.
Then came the magical bottom of the fourth, in which everything finally bounced in Seattle’s direction in a Martinez-pitched game.
Jeremy Reed led off with a hard single to center. Lopez tried to bunt him to second but fouled off two tries. He then hit a bloop to right field that just eluded the dive of Victor Diaz, putting runners on second and third.
Morse followed with a hard shot up the middle on a 0-2 pitch to score Reed and make it 1-0.
Dave Hansen then hit the next pitch into the gap in right-center for a single and a 2-0 lead.
After Martinez retired Pat Borders and Ichiro, Winn hit a grounder up the middle that bounced just over Martinez’s head and under the dive of Marlon Anderson to score two more runs and make it 4-0.
Martinez left after six innings, having allowed a season-high nine hits and the four runs, which tied the most he had allowed against Seattle. That came a year ago in an 8-4 win for the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Mets barely put up a fight the rest of the way, scoring their only run on a triple by David Wright in the seventh that scored Brian Daubach, who had walked.
Relief pitcher Rafael Soriano threw a 26-pitch simulated game, throwing mostly fastballs and sliders as he approaches the end of his comeback from elbow surgery.
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