Ellison, Mariners take a stand in win over A's
His first four-hit game in the majors will be something backup outfielder Jason Ellison looks back on with admiration once his career is...
Seattle Times staff reporter
MLB All-Star Game,
5 p.m., Ch. 13
OAKLAND, Calif. — His first four-hit game in the majors will be something backup outfielder Jason Ellison looks back on with admiration once his career is done.
But the unofficial fifth "hit" Ellison notched in the seventh inning of the Mariners' 7-3 win over the Oakland A's on Sunday afternoon has already gained him much admiration in his clubhouse. The 5-foot-10, 181-pound Ellison went after 6-3, 250-pound Joe Blanton after the pitcher had unceremoniously shoved Ichiro out of the way in retrieving an outfield throw that got away from his catcher.
Ellison and Ichiro had just scored on a three-run double by Raul Ibanez — which put the Mariners ahead to stay — when the errant throw rolled near Ichiro's feet as he walked back to the dugout, his eyes on the field. Blanton shoved Ichiro hard as he retrieved the ball, Ellison retaliated by putting up his fists and charging into Blanton, and both dugouts and bullpens quickly emptied.
"He came over and pushed Ichiro and said something he shouldn't have said," Ellison said, declining to elaborate on the words Blanton used. "That fired me up, I pushed him back, and things kind of went on from there.
"You've got to stand up for your teammates. Ichiro's not going to say anything, obviously."
It took several minutes to restore order, with Blanton and Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista both getting ejected. Batista had no idea why he was tossed and had to be restrained from going after the umpires.
Apparently, the umpires had seen a Mariner jump a barrier to come out to the field from the clubhouse, a violation of baseball rules. Mariners manager John McLaren said they were going to toss Ichiro unless McLaren offered them up another name; he gave them Batista's since the right-hander wasn't scheduled to pitch.
Blanton said he was "just going after the ball" and that there were "a lot of guys just standing around.
"I hit somebody and I'm not even sure what happened after that," he said. "It just kind of developed."
No further incidents transpired, though there was plenty of shouting back and forth between the dugouts. Umpiring crew chief Tim McClelland declined a request to be interviewed about why Ellison was not ejected.
When the smoke finally cleared, the Mariners had taken the final three contests of this four-game series and moved a season-high 13 games over .500. They packed for the All-Star break just 2 ½ games out of the AL West lead, after the Los Angeles Angels were beaten in New York.
Seattle is also 1 ½ games back of Cleveland in the wild-card standings and has succeeded at distancing itself substantially from other teams hoping to contend. The Mariners lead the third-place A's by 6 ½ games, and any realistic hope Oakland had of making the playoffs this season might have ended this weekend on the McAfee Coliseum turf.
Blanton was pounded for a career-high 12 hits, but still had a 3-2 lead as the seventh inning began. Seattle had gone up 2-1 on a solo homer by Jose Lopez in the fifth, but gave a pair of runs right back to the A's on a two-base throwing error in the bottom of the inning by Adrian Beltre.
Eric O'Flaherty replaced starter Ryan Feierabend with the bases loaded and no outs in the inning, and managed to escape further trouble. Sean Green held things down in the sixth before Ellison got the rally going in the seventh with his third of four singles.
Ichiro and Lopez added singles to load the bases. Ibanez then drove a Blanton offering to the gap in left-center field, bringing all three runners home and positioning Green to pick up the win.
Ichiro said after the game that he didn't know the ball was at his feet until the last second. He didn't blame Blanton for wanting to push him out of the way, though he was glad Ellison reacted the way he did.
"I felt helped out in that type of a situation," he said through an interpreter. "We haven't had a team playing like this for three years and now that we are playing well, it feels like this team is kind of mending together. And I think that was kind of an example of that."
McLaren and company will now have three days off to reflect on a 4-3 road trip that began 1-3 — and on a season starting to look as if it may be more memorable than anyone imagined.
"It was a nice win for us to wrap up the first half," McLaren said. "Now we get a chance to catch our breath, get healthy. And I'm looking forward to opening the second half next Thursday against Detroit."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners