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Milton Bradley leads Mariners past Tigers, 5-3

Final - 5.25.2010 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 9 0
Seattle Mariners 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 X 5 7 1
WP: Shawn Kelley (3 - 0)
SV: David Aardsma (10)
LP: Justin Verlander (5 - 3)

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It was just one of those games. One either team could have won. One that turned into a pitcher's duel through the middle innings. One that was going to have to be won in the late innings.

Unfortunately, the wrong team came out on top, as the Mariners rallied for 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th to beat the Tigers, 5-3.

Justin Verlander entered the bottom of the 8th inning at Safeco Field having thrown 98 pitches, and pitching quite well in a 3-3 game.

He left 19 pitches later, destined to be the loser.

All looked well after Ichiro struck out to start the 8th. But Verlander wouldn't get another out.

195 hitting Chone Figgins doubled down the left field line. You knew things were taking a turn for the worse after Verlander walked Franklin Gutierrez (who had tied the game in the 6th with a home run), as it meant Milton Bradley was coming to the plate.

Bradley had earlier gone yard off of Verlander, giving the Mariners a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. He still had Verlander's number in the 8th, as he singled to right. The speedy Figgins beat a good throw to the plate from Maggilo Ordonez., giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead, and the game. They added an insurance run off of Joel Zumaya on a sac fly, the final run also charged to the Tigers' ace.

Did Jim Leyland leave Verlander in too long? Should he have gone to the pen with the dangerous Bradley coming to the plate? With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to say yes. The Tigers bullpen was rested, and they have been all but lights out this season. But at the time, Verlander had been pitching damn well, and shown no signs of tiring. Going by pitch counts in his recent wins (usually in the 110-120 range), Verlander had at least one more good inning in him. We've often seen Leyland leave his ace in games, allowing him to pitch out of trouble.

Most nights, Verlander does. Tuesday night, he didn't.

The Mariners got an excellent pitching performance from Doug Fister, who held the Tigers to 3 runs, 2 earned, while scattering 9 hits over 7 innings. He went pitch for pitch with Verlander, especially in the middle innings, when both starters dominated.

Not that the Tigers didn't have their chances against Fister. After scoring a pair of runs in the 2nd, tying the game, the Tigers had men on 2nd and 3rd with only one out. The Tigers had a chance to break the game wide open, and probably should have, as the Mariners were having trouble picking up the ball. But the issues with RISP reared their ugly head, as Ramon Santiago grounded out to 3rd, and Johnny Damon flew out to short left. Inning and rally over.

In the 3rd, the Tigers, who had been very aggressive on the basepaths up to that point, got burned by their aggressiveness. With Brennan Boesch on 3rd, after a Brandon Inge single, Leyland sent the runner with Don Kelly at the plate. Kelly hit a liner, but right at the 2nd baseman, Figgins. Inge was easily doubled off, ending the inning.

That was pretty much the extent of the Tigers offense on the night, save for Inge's solo shot in the 6th, which temporarily gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Other than Inge's dinger, the Tigers struggled to generate offense. Miguel Cabrera's big bat was sorely missed.

Tonight, the Mariners were just a little bit better, as they got the big hit when it mattered. Being the biggest were from loony head case Milton Bradley...well, that makes the loss a little more painful.

At least there won't be much time to dwell on the loss. It being a getaway day, the Tigers have a 3:40 p.m. first pitch Wednesday afternoon. It's the final game the Tigers will play in the Pacific time zone this season.

Thank goodness for small favors...