Former Blanchet, UW player drives in winning run in 10th inning
As a kid growing up in Seattle and attending countless games at Safeco Field, Jake Lamb imagined being a hero in a variety of situations — like driving in a winning run in extra innings. His memories of Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner doing such heroics filled his mind and danced in his dreams.
Monday night, Lamb got to play that hero, driving in the winning run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 10th inning. But unlike his childhood dreams, the Mariners didn’t win.
Lamb was wearing a Diamondbacks uniform and RBI was the difference in a 4-3 victory for Arizona over Seattle.
“That was cool it worked out like that,” he said. “It was a big win, and having everyone here was really special. I’m really happy.”
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A large group of Lamb supporters — about 90 friends and family members — went crazy when the run scored.
“I think they’d still like me if I didn’t come through,” Lamb said. “I’d like to think so, at least. But it was awesome the way it all worked out, getting an RBI and everything. It was fun.”
It was yet another solid showing for the Bishop Blanchet graduate and former University of Washington standout in his rookie season in the big leagues.
While Lamb’s career is starting to gain steam after missing six weeks with a foot injury, the strong season of Mariners’ rookie closer Carson Smith, who was charged with the loss (1-4), has hit a wall in large part to overuse. In a season where an assortment of Seattle relievers have lost leads and cost the team victories, it’s been Smith’s turn to share in the misery.
Brought in with the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 10th, Smith struggled for the second consecutive outing. He loaded the bases with a walk, a strikeout, a walk and a hit batter.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon couldn’t let Smith go any further. He called on lefty Vidal Nuno to face Lamb. Nuno got the out with a fly ball to center field, but Lamb got the winning RBI when Austin Jackson hesitated getting the ball out of his glove and his throw home was too late to get Paul Goldschmidt.
“We’ve got to get him a couple days off,” McClendon said of Smith. “We’re spinning the wheels with him. You could see he was flying open trying to find something.”
Smith said he wasn’t tired, but he admitted he wasn’t comfortable.
“I couldn’t find it today,” he said. “I wasn’t in the zone. I tried to make an adjustment and it just wasn’t happening. I was just trying to rush to the plate and maybe trying to throw harder than I needed. I was pulling my slider and my fastball was leaking.”
That the Mariners got to the 10th took some more late-inning magic.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and down to the final out, Mark Trumbo doubled to the left-center gap for his third hit of the night. With Logan Morrison coming to the plate, Arizona manager Chip Hale went to lefty and one-time Mariner Oliver Perez to end the game. It didn’t happen.
Perez walked Morrison while tossing a wild pitch on ball four that allowed pinch runner Chris Taylor to advance to third. It brought up catcher Mike Zunino and his sub-.200 batting average. In the past 10 days, Zunino has made some changes to his stance and swing that provided positive results.
He had a sure extra base-hit robbed by Ender Inciarte’s leaping grab in the second inning. But falling behind 0-2 to Perez was less than ideal. Still, Zunino reached out and poked an 0-2 slider into left field to score Taylor and tie the score at 3-3.
“He made two great pitches and I was hoping I could get something up in the zone,” Zunino said. “You just have to battle.”
Zunino now has hits in seven consecutive games and is hitting .417 over that span. Would he have been able to come through a month ago?
“I feel more confident now,” he said. “You want to be in those spots for your team, but honestly a month ago probably not. You’re worried about too many different things.”
The Mariners got a decent start from Mike Montgomery, who worked 62/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned, both on solo home runs) on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
“Monty did a nice job,” McClendon said. “He was a little shaky early on but he settled down. That was big for us.”