Consider the Detroit Tigers thrilled to be done with seeing Seattle for the remainder of the 2012 season. Whether it was back in Detroit or out in the Pacific Northwest, the Tigers could not solve the Mariners.
John Jaso got the best of Detroit's bullpen for the second time in three games with a RBI single to score Michael Saunders with the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, and the Mariners beat the Tigers 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Seattle took five of six from the Tigers this season, including a three-game sweep in Detroit. Even the one game Detroit pulled out — a 6-4 win on Tuesday night — came down to the final at-bat and needed Don Kelly's catch as he crashed into the stands to end the game with the bases loaded.
At the rate it was going, the Tigers are fortunate they were scheduled just six games against Seattle this season. It helped that Seattle caught Detroit at a time when the Tigers' potentially potent offense is scuffling.
"It's pretty much a broken record now, we're just not scoring any runs and that was the case tonight," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't think we were bad at swinging the bat at pitches tonight, we just didn't center the ball very good. Throughout the lineup tonight we just didn't do much."
And it's Detroit's best players that are in a funk. Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 13 in the three-game series in Seattle. Delmon Young was 2 for 11. Prince Fielder, who homered Tuesday night, was hitless on Wednesday in three at-bats.
Detroit's only run off Seattle starter Jason Vargas came in the sixth when Gerald Laird led off with a double to deep left-center. Danny Worth attempted twice to get a bunt down and failed, only to slap a 1-2 pitch from Vargas into right for a single, and put runners on the corners. Austin Jackson followed with a fly ball to center deep enough for the lumbering Laird to score easily from third. Brennan Boesch had a broken-bat single to keep the rally going, but Cabrera's one-hop smash was gloved by Kyle Seager at second and started an inning-ending double play.
Otherwise the hits were scares as Vargas cruised through eight innings, throwing just 90 pitches and striking out six. Outside of the sixth, Vargas allowed just a single to Jhonny Peralta in the third and single to Young in the fifth.
"We are just missing that one hit. We're getting some guys on, but we can't get that one big hit to get us going," Laird said.
Even though Vargas was rolling, Seattle manager Eric Wedge went to closer Brandon League in the ninth. League immediately fell behind Jackson 3-0 and walked him on a 3-2 pitch. However, Jackson was quickly erased when shortstop Brendan Ryan made his third strong defensive play in the game, this one starting a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Boesch. League then got Cabrera to end it for his eighth save in 10 chances this season.
Earlier in the game, Ryan had made a barehanded grab and throw to get Jackson and stole a base hit from Fielder leading off the seventh.
"Brendan Ryan had an unbelievable game," Wedge said. "We talk about it time and time again, that's why we're really working to try and get his bat going because he is so valuable to us."
Seattle didn't get its first hit off Detroit starter Drew Smyly until one out in the fourth inning when Ichiro Suzuki softly served a single into left-center field. Suzuki stole second and scored when Seager lined Smyly's pitch off the wall down the right-field line, missing a home run by just a couple of feet. It was Seager's ninth RBI during the Mariners' six-game homestand and his 10th two-out RBI over the past eight games.
Then it was Jaso's turn for more heroics.
Saunders led off the eighth inning with a double down the left-field line off Detroit reliever Luke Putkonen (0-1) in just his second major league appearance. Saunders advanced to third after Chone Figgins' sacrifice bunt. That was it for Putkonen, who was replaced by Duane Below to face Jaso.
Below got the count to 2-2 on Jaso before he lined a single over Peralta and into left-center field to score Saunders. Jaso got greedy and was thrown out trying to advance to second on the hit. Jaso had the game-winning RBI in Monday's series opener against the Tigers.
"I don't think I thrive. I don't think I get more energy from it. It's just the way I am I guess," Jaso said of the late-inning heroics.
NOTES: Detroit C Alex Avila's sore patella tendon was feeling better on Wednesday and he'll be re-examined before the Tigers open a four-game series Thursday in Oakland. ... Seattle 2B Dustin Ackley was given his second day off of the season on Wednesday. Ackley has struggled hitting just .238. ... Jaso became just the second Seattle catcher to bat leadoff and the first since 1978.