Mariners 7, Padres 4
Johjima held on to the ball despite being run over on the play at the plate by Josh Barfield in the fifth inning, a play that helped spark the Seattle Mariners to a 7-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
“When Ichiro first let go of it, I thought it would be a one-hopper,” pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. “But it just kept going.
“I said, ‘Way to hold onto it,”’ Washburn said. “But (Jojima) looked pretty mad.”
Still, Suzuki’s throw—and Johjima’s catch—was the major topic of conversation in both dressing rooms.
“If I was a catcher, I’d run away,” Suzuki said when asked about Johjima’s block catch. “I wouldn’t even catch the ball.”
Suzuki, a five-time Gold Glove winner, has six outfield assists this season, tops in the American League. Only Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals has more, seven. Since coming into the AL, Suzuki is tied for second overall in outfield assists with 56, trailing only Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels, with 62.
There are collisions in Japan, too, said Suzuki, who arrived in Seattle in 2001 after playing nine seasons in Japan. “But when you think about it, American players are bigger than Japanese players,” he said through a translator.
The 6-foot, 198-pound Johjima, who joined the Mariners this season after playing 11 years in Japan, admitted, that he was “sore” after being bowled over by the 6-foot, 190-pound Barfield. But the catcher denied he was mad at anybody.
“He did what he had to go,” Johjima said.
Piazza homered off Jarrod Washburn, his fifth of the season, in the fourth, but Washburn escaped possible disaster in the fifth, giving up only one run thanks to Suzuki and Johjima’s double play.
After Vinny Castilla singled, Barfield doubled him to third and Bard had a sacrifice fly for San Diego’s second run on the game. Brian Giles would have had another sacrifice fly if Barfield had not been cut down.
“That play really swung the momentum back to our side,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “It was a huge play.”
Bruce Bochy said Suzuki’s throwing arm is one of the best he’s ever seen.
“He just killed a potentially big inning for us there,” he said. “That was probably the turning point in the game.”
The Mariners went ahead 5-3 with two runs in the seventh.
Facing Padres reliever Scott Cassidy (3-2), Yuniesky Betancourt singled, stole second and went to third on catcher Bard’s throwing error. With the infield in, Ichiro Suzuki got aboard on shortstop Khalil Greene’s fielding error.
Jeremy Reed added an RBI triple in a two-run eighth.
Returning to Seattle after suffering a three-game sweep in Oakland, the Mariners went ahead 1-0 in the second on Johjima’s off Chris Young. They made it 3-0 in the third on solo homers by Lopez and Sexson against Young, who now has given up 10 homers this season.
The Padres tied the score at 3 in the seventh when Bard homered off Soriano, who replaced Washburn in the top of the inning.
Bard added an RBI double in the ninth to make it 7-4 and finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Washburn now hasn’t won in four starts in May since his last victory on April 26, but the veteran left-hander pitched well enough to win. In six innings, he gave up two runs on five hits and two walks, with three strikeouts.
The 6-foot-10 Young also went six innings, allowing three runs on three hits, all homers, and two walks, with five strikeouts.
^Notes: Piazza hit his 402nd career homer and his first at Safeco Field, the 37th major league ballpark he has homered in . … Suzuki singled in the first to increase his season-high hitting streak to 13 games. … Safeco’s retractable roof was closed for the third time this season. … Carl Everett of the Mariners stole his first base of 2006. … Lopez lead all major league 2B with 33 RBIs. His sixth homer was a career high.