When Milton Bradley hit that three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night, I’m pretty sure Doug Fister blew his load all over the Mariners dugout. And who can blame him? Seattle pitchers had been blue-balled for 21 consecutive innings, forced to watch helplessly as their offense failed to score a single run.
And then, in one fell swoop, everything changed. Bradley stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and proceeded to golf a 2-0 fastball from Oakland A’s reliever Brad Ziegler into the right-field seats. At that moment, a veritable climax was reached.
Immediately, the television cameras panned to the dugout where Fister was toweling off cheering ecstatically for this unprecedented turn of events. The 6’8″ righthander became the team’s first starting pitcher to be credited with a win this year (relievers Mark Lowe and Brandon League were the winners in Seattle’s first two victories).
For all his troubles in the season’s first week, Bradley pieced together the first great ballgame of his brief Mariners’ career. The embattled left fielder went 2-4, adding a double to go along with his home run. The two hits raised his batting average to .113, not spectacular by any means, but a far cry from the .045 he entered the ballgame with. Bradley now has three hits on the year, all for extra bases (two home runs, one double).
Fister, a crafty righty if there ever was one, took it to the A’s with his upper-80s fastball and assortment of breaking pitches. In the second start of his sophomore campaign, Fisty went eight strong innings, allowed no runs, and scattered just three hits to an Oakland team that had tattooed Mariners pitching for 21 runs in the season’s previous five meetings. The M’s fourth starter lowered his ERA to 1.15 on the new year as a result.
As a team, the Mariners enjoyed an offensive explosion of sorts with nine hits on the evening. The problem came in stringing those hits together, which subsequently led to the offense leaving nine runners on base over the course of the ballgame. Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez helped set the table on numerous occasions, collecting three hits apiece.
Now it’s up to Jason Vargas to keep the momentum going. The southpaw takes the mound on Wednesday with a new streak for the team to uphold: eleven consecutive innings of scoreless ball by the Mariners pitching staff.
Is this a turning point for this team? We’ll have to wait and see to find out.
For now, the only thing that matters is that the Oakland A’s are the first team to be Fisted this season. Victim number one, and counting…