Published April 20, 2011
SEATTLE – Doug Fister got more run support from his offense in one inning than he had in three previous starts this season.
He didn't waste it, either.
Fister struck out a career-high seven in 6 1-3 innings, and the light-hitting Seattle Mariners capitalized on 11 walks allowed by Detroit, routing the Tigers 13-3 on Tuesday night.
Getting some run support probably felt quite foreign to Fister. Before this start, Seattle had scored three runs for the right-hander this season, only two while he was in the game.
But the Mariners scored four times in the first against the Tigers, and staked Fister to a 6-1 lead by the fifth inning. They finished with a season-high 15 hits.
"He's thrown the ball well all year," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "It was good we could jump out early and he did a great job of keeping the same mindset you have to have when you go out there and you are a starting pitcher in that type of game."
Seattle backed Fister with some rare clutch hitting and the top of its batting order — Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins — combined to go 7 for 9 and five RBIs.
The Mariners entered as the worst hitting team in the American League with runners in scoring position. That quickly changed thanks to the opening outburst kept alive by an error from Detroit starter Phil Coke (1-3), and a two-out, two-strike single from Chris Gimenez that made it 4-0.
In its first 17 games, Seattle scored only one run in the first inning.
Coke started his night with five-pitch and four-pitch walks to Suzuki and Figgins, and the parade of free passes was just starting. Jack Wilson earned his first three walks of the season. Gimenez and Jack Cust both walked twice.
Figgins got his first hit all season with a runner in scoring position, driving in Suzuki in the fourth. Seattle added five runs in the seventh off Detroit's bullpen, only after reliever Jamey Wright got a key double play to end the top of the seventh and keep the Mariners ahead 6-2.
The Mariners' big seventh included four consecutive hits, highlighted by RBI singles by Suzuki and Bradley, and a two-run single by Figgins.
Seattle went 7 for 22 with runners in scoring position.
"That felt good. Regardless of what you do (individually) it's good to put up some crooked numbers," Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "It's nice to play with a lead for a change."
Fister (1-3) had retired eight straight and 14 of 15 — the only runner reaching on third baseman Figgins' error in the fourth — entering the seventh. Miguel Cabrera, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn reached on three straight singles and, after a popout by Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila walked on a close 3-2 pitch to force in a run and end Fister's night.
Wright took over and got Brandon Inge to ground into a double play on his first pitch.
Fister, who threw a career-high 110 pitches, lasted at least six innings for the third straight start. He started the game with consecutive strikeouts of Austin Jackson and Will Rhymes, both looking, then was the first to greet Wright at the dugout steps after his one-pitch double play to end the seventh.
"It fired me up. That was the pitch I was looking for and I didn't make that, but coming in and having him come in right behind me, I have the utmost confidence in Jamey," Fister said. "He's a tremendous pitcher and we were all fired up when he made that one pitch."
Coke lasted just 3 2-3 innings, after throwing seven shutout innings in his last start against Oakland. He gave up six runs, two earned, and walked four, matching his career high.
"He didn't have any command of his fastball. He didn't have command of the strike zone," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't all night."
Enrique Gonzalez, Al Alburquerque and Brad Thomas followed with more of the same, combining to give up seven runs, nine hits and walk another seven batters.
NOTES: Seattle placed 1B Justin Smoak on the bereavement list early Tuesday, and the team announced later that his father, Keith, had passed away at age 54. ... Detroit placed C Victor Martinez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, aggravated in the second inning on Monday night. The Tigers purchased the contract of C Omir Santos from Triple-A Toledo to take Martinez's spot. ... Figgins committed an error on Cabrera's grounder in the fourth inning, the 100th error of his career.