M’s end misery with 4-3 win over A’s
Suzuki had two hits and scored the decisive run as the Seattle Mariners rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, completing their first home series sweep of the year and ending a pair of forgettable seasons.
The perennial All-Star finished the season tied with Boston’s Dustin Pedroia for the most hits in the major leagues at 213. It is the fifth time Suzuki has led the majors in hits. Only Cobb, Rose, Musial and Gwynn have done that.
“I’m more impressed with you knowing of that list,” Suzuki said through an interpreter while fanning himself from his seat at his locker.
“It’s kind of like a home-run hitter who gets a lot of home runs: It’s a pure desire.”
Suzuki finished the season batting .310, his 15th consecutive season above .300 between Japan and the major leagues.
“His discipline is incredible,” fellow corner outfielder Raul Ibanez said. “Nobody knows their swing, their approach better. It’s amazing.”
Ibanez went 0-for-4 with his 110th RBI while trying to block out home fans asking him if this was his final game in Seattle. The Mariners’ leader this season in RBIs, doubles (43) and slugging percentage (.479) is eligible to become a free agent this winter.
“Sure, I’d love to be here. (But) I’d love to be in a competitive environment,” the 36-year-old said.
The reloaded Mariners expected to win the AL West this season, or at least make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Instead, they fired their manager and general manager, became the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games and endured their worst season (61-101) since losing 102 games in 1983.
One of Seattle’s many cynics would say the Mariners finally won when they needed to lose. Seattle’s victory and Washington’s loss on Sunday means the Nationals will have the No. 1 pick in next June’s draft. The Mariners will pick second.
The young, injured A’s (75-86) finished with their worst record since going 74-88 in 1998. They lost 44 of their last 68 games, after being just four games out of first place on July 11.
“We have a lot of talent in the organization,” manager Bob Geren said. “I feel confident about our returning to the top.”
One of their bright spots: Joey Devine. He struck out two in a scoreless inning and finished his first full season in the majors with a 0.59 ERA, the lowest in history for a pitcher with at least 40 innings in a season. The previous best was the 0.61 ERA of Dennis Eckersley in 1990 for the A’s.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned around his name,” Devine said.
Acquired in January from Atlanta in the trade of outfielder Mark Kotsay, Devine did not allow a home run in 42 games and 45 2-3 innings this season. That bested by seven innings Vida Blue’s Oakland record for most innings pitched in a season without allowing a homer.
The Mariners rallied from a 3-0 deficit early and took the lead in the fifth with the help of Oakland’s Josh Outman, who was making his fourth major league start.
Rookie Luis Valbuena chopped an infield single leading off, then Suzuki hit a comebacker that may have been a double play had Outman not thrown the ball wide of second base and into center field.
Yuniesky Betancourt lined his next pitch into the right-center gap. Center fielder Ryan Sweeney offered to cut off the ball then pulled his glove back, tricking right fielder Travis Buck and allowing the ball to reach the wall for a triple. Valbuena and Suzuki scored to put Seattle up 4-3.
J.J. Putz struck out the side in the ninth for his 15th save in 23 chances. He finished with 25 fewer saves than he had last season while becoming an All-Star.
R.A. Dickey (5-8) allowed three runs in the first inning, Buck’s first leadoff home run of his career and a two-run double by Chris Denorfia. The knuckleballer later retired 12 in a row to get his first win as a starter since July 31. He allowed six hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Outman (1-2) allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits in six innings.
The A’s batted .231 after the All-Star break. The last AL team hit below .231 after the break was the 1974 Milwaukee Brewers (.227). … Jose Lopez made his 12th start of the season at 1B. Seattle was trying the usual 2B there this month to see if he could possibly be a first baseman in 2009. Asked what he thought of that, Lopez said, “No. I don’t want to move.”