The amazing factor was not the fact that two of the best teams were going head-to-head, but the fact that Josh Gibson of the Crawfords is FINALLY coming off the disabled list! This team struggled without Gibson in the lineup, 7-5 since, although it was nice to see Oscar Charleston finally step up, and play like Oscar Charleston!
Due to the fact that I decided to change it from 162 games to 48 games for each team, and starting with Game #29, we will see nothing but division match-ups there on, out -- mean't that I decided to cut all the injuries that existed down 50% from their totals, this is why Gibson is finally back.
Seattle jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, including an RBI double by David Bell. Popeye Harris' solo HR tied up the game, 3-3 in the bottom of the 3rd. During the top of the 5th, an RBI double & RBI triple by Mike Cameron, put Mariners on top, 5-3. Bottom of the 5th, Gibson & the Crawfords struck back with his RBI triple, scoring in Harris.
You just knew it was going to be one of those games that was going to go back-and-forth, or keep going from the get-go. Top of the 6th, with the Crawford's David Harvey now on the mound, Dan Wilson scores on a sac-fly by Ichiro Suzuki to take 6-5 lead over Pittsburgh. Bottom of the 6th, Norm Charlton came in for Seattle, got the first two guys retired (including Cool Papa Bell's 2nd K of the game), then Judy Johnson (0-for-2) draws a walk, Andrew "Pat" Patterson hit a single. With runners on first & third, with two outs, Harvey (who can hit for a pitcher) smacked a two-run double to take a 7-6 Crawfords lead, Jimmy Crutchfield followed with an RBI single.
Down 8-6, the Mariners' Mike Cameron hit a solo HR during the top of the 7th, off of the Crawfords' Harvey; Cameron at this point was 3-for-3, with a HR, triple & single, plus two stolen bases (and a caught stealing) with 2 runs -- he's a double away from the cycle, with plenty of game left. Bottom of the 7th, the Mariners' reliever Ryan Franklin does not allow a run to the Crawfords, to keep the M's a run within Pittsburgh. Top of the 8th, with one out, Franklin's spot comes up in the lineup, with Wilson on second with his lead-off double, Seattle calls on Edgar Martinez to come off the bench to pinch-hit against Harvey -- Harvey gives up a two-run HR over the center field wall!
With a 9-8 lead, and Franklin in position for the win, the Mariners call on their usual closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (7 Saves) to pitch the bottom of the 8th, while Arthur Rhodes (2 Saves) warms up in the bullpen, the M's want to close this one out. Sasaki is a APBA Grade B-XYZ, while Rhodes is a Grade A&C-KYZ. Sasaki, despite giving up two walks, gets through the inning scoreless.
The top of the ninth, the Mariners failed to add any insurance runs off Pittsburgh's D reliever Bertrum Hunter. Bottom of the ninth, Rhodes strikes out Gibson to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Gibson is now 2-for-5 (with an RBI triple) in his first game back. Oscar Robertson would follow the Gibson K with a double, Sam Bankhead would ground out to move Robertson up to third. With two outs, and the tying runner at 3rd, Papa Bell would smack a game-tying double off of Rhodes, who is not on top of his game. Judy Johnson would fly out to make the 3rd out, this one is going to extras.
Tied 9-9, the M's are letting Rhodes swing the bat, they will try to keep him in for a few innings -- he strikes out. Ichiro would fly out to make it, two quick outs. Mark McLemore would keep the inning alive with a single, which was happily answered by Bret Boone's RBI double -- Seattle leads 10-9! John Olerud grounds out for final out.
Rhodes is now in position to win the game (after blowing the save in the 9th), he will have to face Patterson, pitcher Hunter & the lead-off man, Crutchfield. Patterson leads off with a single, but that is followed by Hunter hitting into a force, as Seattle gets the lead runner. Crutchfield hits into a ground out moving Hunter up to second, two outs. Harris hits a single, but fails to move the runner to 3rd. All setting up the table for this, runners on 1st & 2nd, Josh Gibson steps up to the plate, Rhodes could intentionally walk him, but Robertson has been hot of late & has really taken advantage of clearing the bases whenever he can. Rhodes sets up & delivers, this one is smacked to left-center, McLemore is looking over his shoulder, Cameron is racing from center to help, this one lands, Gibson is racing around first, Hunter scores, Harris is racing around third, as Gibson races into second, there is going to be no play at home -- Harris scores, the Crawfords win! A walk-off double for Gibson, in his grand return from disabled list! You can't write this stuff! The fans at Greenlee Field are going nuts right now!
An 11-10 victory for Pittsburgh as they improve to 20-7, while the Mariners fall to 19-8 -- both teams remain in first place in their respective divisions. The M's hold a 2.5 game lead over the 1998 Atlanta Braves in the STARS IV "Bobby Cox" Division, while the Crawfords are 2.5 games up on the 1929 Chicago Cubs in the STARS I "Ruth" Division.
- Sam Bankhead (PIT): 2-for-5, 3B, 2B, RBI & run.
- Josh Gibson (PIT): 3-for-6, 2 RBI, 3B, walk-off double.
- Popeye Harris (PIT): 3-for-6, HR, 3 RBI (RBI on each hit), with 3 runs.
- David Harvey (PIT): The pitcher was 1-for-2 at the plate, a two-run double.
- Mike Cameron (SEA): 3-for-4, HR, 3B (double short of cycle), 2 RBI, 2 SB (1 CS) & 2 runs.
- Mark McLemore, Bret Boone, David Bell & Dan Wilson (of SEA): 2 hits each.
- Ichiro Suzuki (SEA): 1-for-3, BB, HBP, Sac Fly & 2 steals.
- No great pitching anywhere, a total of a combined 30 hits & 21 runs, while Seattle made an uncharacteristic two errors.