Forgive Doug Fister if he didnt know what those unfamiliar markings on the scoreboard were.
Instead of being round, they had angles and definition to them.
They were runs. What a concept.
Fister had gone without in his first three starts for Seattle, getting just one run and six hits per start. Tuesday, everything was different.
The Mariners took advantage of the generosity of Detroit starter Phil Coke to score four times as many runs in the first inning (four) as theyd scored in the first 17 first innings all year (one) en route to a 13-3 win over the Tigers.
“The more times we get on base, the more opportunity there will be for the guys behind us to drive in runs,” third baseman Chone Figgins said. Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki had seven hits and two walks between them, scoring three times each.
That four-run first was more offense than the team had provided for Fister in his first three starts (three runs total, one in each game).
“This was a total team win,” Fister said. “We scored a lot of runs, but don’t forget there was some tremendous team defense, too. For me, between the defense and getting that run support, I just had to keep the same mindset facing the hitters, that the game is always 0-0.”
It was a bitterly cold Safeco Field evening, a night made cooler still for the home team by the news that first baseman Justin Smoaks father passed away. Smoak had been granted bereavement leave early in the day to go to his father and family.
The 6-foot-8 Fister, who has to pitch down in the zone and peck at the corners of the plate to be successful, did just that for six innings, all the while being just about the only guy in the place wearing short sleeves. He doesn’t like long sleeves when he pitches, and a cold Safeco night wasn’t going to change that.
“I have to feel comfortable out there,” Fister said. “It has to be pretty brutal for me to wear sleeves. When I’m out there, it’s always the middle of summertime.”
Fister’s lone walk to open the second inning gave the Tigers a run, but otherwise Detroit had a difficult time getting a read on what he was throwing.
The right-hander set a new career high with seven strikeouts and allowed just two hits and a walk (all in the second inning) in the first six frames. The seventh inning, which proved to be Seattles downfall Monday, had a chance to do in the Mariners again when a couple of grounders and a pop fly to start things off resulted in three hits and a bases-loaded, none-out jam.
Manager Eric Wedge could have gone to his bullpen. On the other hand, it was the bullpen who gave the Tigers that six-run inning Monday. Fister was allowed to see if he could work out of trouble.
Fister came back to get Jhonny Peralta, whod delivered a bases-loaded seventh-inning triple Monday, to pop out for the first out. But after his second walk of the game, this one to Alex Avila to force home a run that cut Seattles lead to 6-2, Fister was replaced by Jamey Wright, who threw one pitch to get an inning-ending double play from Brandon Inge.
“That one pitch got everyone pumped up,” Fister said.
Then the Mariners started beating up on the Detroit bullpen, bruising Al Albuquerque and Brad Thomas for five runs. The inning started with two walks and a Michael Saunders bleeder for a single to load the bases. Ichiro singled, his third of four hits, to drive in one run, Figgins delivered his third hit, good for two more, Milton Bradley singled to score one and Miguel Olivo finished off the inning with a sacrifice fly, good for an 11-2 lead.
The Mariners owed this one in some measure to the Tigers, who walked 11 Seattle batters. It was the second time in eight days that the Mariners had been walked 11 times.
Three of those walks came to the first four Seattle hitters in the first, and those, mixed in with a Tigers’ error, produced the game’s first run on Jack Custs bases-loaded walk.
A Brendan Ryan grounder made it 2-0, and Chris Gimenez, pressed into duty at first base with Smoak away, pushed the score from 2-0 to 4-0 with a bases-loaded single. That hit was just the second with the bases loaded for Seattle in 24 tries this year, although the Cust walk had been the sixth with the bases loaded this season for Seattle, most in the Major Leagues.