The post-Milton Bradley era got off to a rousing start for the Mariners, full of thrills and chills, rallies, impossible escapes, and even...
BALTIMORE — The post-Milton Bradley era got off to a rousing start for the Mariners, full of thrills and chills, rallies, impossible escapes, and even a brief bench-clearing incident.
But not the one storybook ending that looked to have been written.
The newest Mariner, Mike Wilson, making his major-league debut after 10 years kicking around the minors, seemed to have come up the hero. Twice.
But the Orioles rallied for two in the bottom of the 13th off closer Brandon League to pull out a 7-6 win at Camden Yards. Felix Pie’s one-out single off the glove of second baseman Jack Wilson tied it, and Matt Wieters’ two-out single to center won it.
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“A loss is always frustrating, but when you’re battling, and you’ve played such a long game, and you ended up on top going into bottom of 13th, it’s extra tough,” said League, who blew his first save of the season after converting his first nine.
Wilson made a perfect throw to save the game in the ninth, and later delivered a broken-bat single in the 13th to put the Mariners ahead, 6-5.
Wilson, called up on Monday after Bradley and Ryan Langerhans were cut, made an instant impact after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, first with his arm. He gunned down J.J. Hardy in the bottom of the ninth trying to score the winning run from second on Nick Markakis’ single to left.
“It was a perfect throw,” said manager Eric Wedge. “It was aggressive, under control. He did a great job of making a great feed to Miggy (catcher Miguel Olivo).”
Said Wilson: “I saw the play before it happened. I just reacted to it.”
Then, in the 13th, after Jack Wilson had led off with a double to right off reliever Jeremy Accardo, Mike Wilson shattered his bat but punched the ball into left, just off the glove of shortstop Hardy, for his first major-league hit. Jack Wilson read the play perfectly and was running all the way, scoring the tiebreaking run.
“I was telling myself, ‘Go ball, go ball,’ ” said Mike Wilson, who added that he would tape together the broken bat and present it to his mother, along with the ball.
“It came at a perfect time. I got an RBI with it, it gave us a lead in the game. It was good to get that out of the way. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The perfect ending, of course, would have been for League to wrap up the save after Aaron Laffey had wriggled out of trouble in the previous four innings — the last time with help from ex-Orioles closer Chris Ray. The Orioles, who stranded 16 in the game, had the go-ahead run in scoring position with less than two outs in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th, yet never could get the clutch hit they needed.
But in the 13th, Markakis led off with a single off League. After Derrek Lee struck out, Jake Fox singled him to second. Pie then tied the score with his hit, a grounder that ate up a backpedaling Jack Wilson.
After Fox was thrown out at the plate on Adam Jones’ hard grounder to short, Wieters delivered his game-winner, a liner to center, as Pie easily beat Michael Saunders’ throw home.
“It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” Wedge said. “In the end, you figure one play was going to make the difference. Both teams were doing a good job of making plays. Both teams had an opportunity to win the game. But in the end, we just fell short.”
Wedge said of the ball hit to Wilson in the 13th, which looked like a potential inning-ending double-play ball, “He has to come get it. He started backpedaling to the ball. When you do that, it’s going to be a tough play. He had to come get that ball. If he does that, it’s probably a different outcome there.”
As it was, the Mariners lost their third straight game, despite rallying in the ninth inning to tie it on a two-out single by Justin Smoak off Orioles closer Kevin Gregg. Smoak was playing his first game as the Mariners’ new No. 3 hitter in place of Bradley.
The M’s also had a runner, Olivo, thrown out at the plate in the 12th, trying to score from first on Jack Cust’s double off the scoreboard in right.
The benches cleared briefly in the bottom of the 10th after Baltimore’s Felix Pie rammed into Smoak, who had fielded his slow grounder and was waiting to tag him. Order was quickly restored — the relievers were barely out of the bullpen before the field was cleared.
“He put his shoulder in me, and I didn’t like it too much,” Smoak said. “That was about it. We said something back and forth. It was two teams trying to do whatever they could to win — one of those moments.”
The game had innumerable “moments” — but for the Mariners, a frustrating outcome.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org