M's Take Good With The Bad -- 55,300 Are Witness To Seattle Baseball History
Once upon a time, the Seattle Mariners had a third baseman try to blow a ball foul.
They had a manager try to change the batters' boxes, a pitcher shave half his beard, an infielder swing at a pitch that hit him in the belly.
They had two outfielders tagged out at home on one play - by a catcher flat on his back with a broken leg. They had Cuffs Caudill and Mr. Jello, and their one Hall of Famer was tossed from a game for cheating.
They had falls, pratfalls, laughs and losses. Oh, they've had losses.
But they never had a winning team.
Until last night, when, to the screams and dreams of 55,300 on a never-more-fitting Fan Appreciation eve, they assured themselves of their first with their 82nd win, 6-4 over the Chicago White Sox.
"Winners . . . we're winners," said a joyous Alvin Davis, who has waited and wondered longer than any other Mariner. "It means so much to those of us who've been here. The young guys look at our happiness and ask, `What's the big deal?'
"But this means more than winning a pennant. That kind of joy is in the heart. This emotion comes deeper in the body, in the gut. You have to come back the next year and win a pennant over again. But this was something they can never take away from us, a forever thing."
And last night, a near thing. After losing a 3-0 lead after three innings and starting pitcher Randy Johnson to a twisted right knee after five, Seattle managed to come back to win on run-scoring singles by Dave Valle and Jeff Schaefer in the sixth and on Jay Buhner's 27th homer in the eighth.
Calvin Jones got the win with with one inning of work and Mike Jackson contributed two good innings, backed by superb defensive plays by shortstop Schaefer and first baseman Pete O'Brien. Mike Schooler closed out the ninth, the latter taking his seventh save when Ken Griffey Jr. ran down the last out at the warning track in center with the tying runs on base.
The Mariners built the original lead with a run in each of the first three innings and a favorable call from plate umpire Tim McClelland.
In the first, Griffey singled with two away, stole second and came home when O'Brien lined one of Charlie Hough's knucklers for an RBI single.
In the top of the second, Craig Grebeck was apparently safe at home, beating the throw from Greg Briley after a fly ball to right by Joey Cora. But McClelland, who had a good look at the play, called him out. In the ensuing protest, he also tossed out Chicago Coach Terry Bevington.
Moments later, Briley had the Seattle offense cooking with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the inning. He scored the 2-0 run on a sacrifice fly by Valle, who has hit .300 the past month.
O'Brien got his second run batted in in the third, an inning Harold Reynolds started with a single and stolen base.
Randy Johnson, who finished the season with a rarity - more walks than hits allowed, 152-151 - walked none in the fourth after giving five passes in the first three innings. But he staggered in the fifth after Ron Karkovice led off with a double. With one away, he walked Mike Huff and Robin Ventura singled to make it 3-1, his 100th RBI. Frank Thomas walked for the third time and Carlton Fisk hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.
Johnson twisted his right knee during the inning, but finished out the inning. Jones came on in the sixth and got a dose of three bunts, after walking leadoff man Grebeck, that left the score at 3-3.
But no sooner tied, the Mariners knocked Hough out and shot off to a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Briley worked a walk and Tino Martinez singled him to second. Valle singled softly to left for a his second RBI and a 4-3 lead.
Buhner ran for Martinez and scored when Schaefer slapped a single up the middle, restoring Seattle's two-run lead.
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