SEATTLE (AP)—Adrian Beltre, home run hitter and deft defender at third base, can now add a new title.
Beltre hit a two-run single then darted and juked long enough on the bases to allow the go-ahead run to score in a wacky sequence that sent the Seattle Mariners to a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Thursday night, ending the Tigers’ five-game winning streak.
“I’m still confused,” Beltre said of his three-run play that left both sides dismayed. “It was kind of weird, but we’ll take that.”
Magglio Ordonez drove in two runs to give Detroit a 2-0 lead but Seattle scored three times in the fifth inning en route to its fourth consecutive win. The Mariners improved to a season-high 14 games over .500 thanks to Beltre’s Houdini act.
After Jose Vidro singled for his third hit, Andrew Miller (4-3) walked Jose Guillen and Richie Sexson to load the bases with two outs. Beltre then singled sharply to drive in Vidro and Guillen, who scored when catcher Mike Rabelo dropped right fielder Ordonez’s throw.
Rabelo, playing because All-Star Ivan Rodriguez was ejected in the previous inning, then threw to second in an attempt to catch Beltre trying to advance. Second base umpire Bruce Froemming signaled safe twice as shortstop Carlos Guillen missed tags before and after Beltre slid thru the bag. He tried to go back to second and Guillen missed again.
Or did he?
“He might have tagged me,” Beltre said, smiling.
“I feel like (I did), twice,” Guillen said.
Froemming ruled that the chasing Guillen missed two more tag attempts as Beltre hopped and then raced away to third base. During Beltre’s successful dash, Sexson made it all the way around to score the go-ahead run.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland ran out to join Guillen in arguing with Froemming. After that got nowhere, Leyland returned to the dugout and then ordered Miller to appeal the play back to second base. Froemming called Beltre out for never touching the bag, though television replays showed Beltre did touch the side and top of the base with his left hand during his initial headfirst slide.
Beltre and Mariners manager John McLaren then argued with Froemming to no avail.
“You don’t see that play every day,” McLaren said. “It was a funny play.”
Leyland, who said afterward he doesn’t discuss umpire calls, returned to the field after the inning ended, presumably to question why the third run was allowed to score. But Leyland’s discussion was brief and calm.
“They were trying to sweep tag him, and they don’t get him,” Froemming said. “And now they come out to argue that they got him? But they don’t know if they got him or not.
“Three of their guys saw that he never touched second base. They went to the mound to appeal and that’s when I called him out.”
Froemming, the plate umpire in the All-Star game Tuesday and longest tenured umpire at 37 years, did not explain why he gave a safe signal twice as Beltre slid past second base, to infer the runner had reached base successfully. If a runner has not touched a base, the umpire usually gives no signal to let the play continue.
“You know, he’s a human,” Guillen said. “Everybody can make a mistake. It’s part of the game.”
Beltre’s adventures on the basepaths earlier in the game led to Rodriguez’s ejection.
The 14-time All-Star catcher was ejected after arguing Yuniesky Betancourt interfered with his attempt to throw out Beltre trying to steal in the fourth. An irate Rodriguez got in the face of plate umpire Mike Winters, who then ejected him.
Rodriguez may have touched Winters, “but if I did, it was just lightly.”
“I never argue about umpires. That’s not me. But I was right,” Rodriguez said.
Leyland said he thought having to switch catchers in the fourth inning may have affected Miller, who allowed three runs—two earned—and six hits in five innings. The 22-year-old, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, struck out six and walked two.
Felix Hernandez (6-4) scattered 10 hits and allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings to win his third straight decision. He walked two—one intentionally— and struck out six.
All-Star J.J. Putz got the final three outs for his 25th save and major league-leading 27th straight conversion dating to last season. The last two outs came with the tying run on second—a flyout by Gary Sheffield, who had three hits and stole two bases, and a strikeout of Ordonez, the AL batting leader.
“You just hope you make good pitches … and that Sheffield doesn’t take your head off,” Putz said.
OF Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 after getting a standing ovation before the game for becoming Seattle’s first All-Star game MVP since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1992. He met with general manager Bill Bavasi after the game amid reports he has agreed to a contract extension. When asked if he had good news, Suzuki smiled and said, “You’ll find out sometime.”