They sure haven't hit all that well lately. But the Mariners still know how to read, and they certainly are capable of watching a television...
They sure haven’t hit all that well lately. But the Mariners still know how to read, and they certainly are capable of watching a television screen.
A pregame glance at a stats sheet or some video footage of Monday night’s opposing starter, Toronto left-hander Ted Lilly, would have told them he allows base runners (82 in the past 55-2/3 innings) about as often as managers spit. Lilly also makes it through seven innings as often as the Mariners lose consecutive games at home, which hadn’t happened in a long while until this 6-2 defeat against the Blue Jays southpaw.
The natural assumption is that a Mariners team once again struggling at the plate would try to help itself by waiting Lilly out. But veteran Eduardo Perez, who turned 37 on Monday and has seen his share of stats and videos, summed up why that strategy was a no-go.
“It’s tough to draw a walk when you’re 0-and-2,” Perez said of the strike-throwing Lilly after this clunker was done.
So a Mariners team that had recently looked unbeatable at Safeco Field dropped its second straight in front of 24,462 fans. Thousands of those spectators appeared to have journeyed down from British Columbia to cheer on the visitors, especially Lilly, who notched his career-high 13th win by holding the Mariners to just four hits over his seven innings.
Mariners starter Jake Woods yielded a pair of first-inning runs on some bloop hits, then got tagged for a three-spot in the fourth. Centralia native Lyle Overbay kicked the rally off for Toronto with his 43rd double and later scored on a single by Class AAA call-up Adam Lind.
Toronto also pulled off a successful suicide squeeze in that inning, as No. 9 hitter John McDonald got a soft bunt down between the plate and mound to bring Aaron Hill home from third.
Ted Lilly (13-12)
Losing pitcher: Jake Woods (4-3)
Tonight: Toronto Blue Jays at Mariners, 7:05 p.m., FSN/KOMO 1000 AM
Starting pitchers: M’s Gil Meche (9-8, 4.31) vs. Shaun Marcum (2-3, 5.22)
Seattle countered with a pair of runs off Lilly in the fifth. Richie Sexson drew the only walk Lilly allowed, and Kenji Johjima doubled to left to put runners at second and third.
Sexson later scored on a wild pitch, and Johjima came home when Jose Lopez grounded out to second. But that was it for a Mariners squad that allowed Lilly to make it through seven innings for the first time in nearly two months and just the second time since June 10.
“That’s what happens when you [throw strikes],” sighed Perez, now 1 for 9 lifetime against the lefty after accounting for two of Lilly’s five strikeouts in this affair. “When you can locate and throw strikes, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
Seattle had been hoping to get to Lilly and bolster an offense that has the second-worst on-base percentage in the American League at .320. The Mariners have scored just seven runs over the last 31 innings, dating back to the start of Saturday’s game, and even the return of Adrian Beltre to the team and the top of the order — batting second — couldn’t jump-start them against Lilly.
“I was in awe of him,” Perez said. “Those first three at-bats, I don’t think I saw a ball today. I think it was all strikes. You’re always 0-and-2.”
Woods wasn’t nearly as proficient. He had already thrown 104 pitches by the time he issued his third walk of the night with one out in the sixth and was pulled.
Throw in all the bloopers and bleeders off Toronto bats, and it made for another night in which he couldn’t get beyond six innings.
“Sometimes, balls get hit hard right at guys and sometimes they’re able to fall in,” Woods said with a shrug. “That’s the way this game goes.”
The way Lilly was pitching, a few of those bloop hits were all Toronto needed.
Lilly had been more infamous for a recent tunnel fracas with Toronto manager John Gibbons than his ability to win consistently and go deep into games. It was Gibbons pulling Lilly early from a game last month that sparked the scrap between player and manager.
No question of that happening in this contest.
“Teddy’s been on a roll,” Gibbons said, adding he and the looming free agent have settled their differences. “We gave him some breathing room with some early runs, but it’s one of those nights when he probably didn’t need it.”
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove agreed there was little his team could do.
“He came into this game averaging around five walks a game and we ended up with one,” he said. “We were trying to be patient, but he was throwing strikes.”
Geoff Baker: email@example.com