SEATTLE — Bryan Pena pushed the go-ahead run across and Prince Fielder kept the lead intact by gunning out Justin Smoak at the plate, as the Detroit Tigers came away with a 2-1 victory over the Mariners in marathon 14-inning pitching duel at Safeco Field.
In a game highlighted by incredible pitching that resulted in a combined 40 strikeouts, the Tigers took advantage after Charlie Furbush (0-1) put two runners in the 14th inning.
Blake Beavan took the mound for Seattle and the runners advanced on Jhonny Peralta’s sacrifice bunt. Pena then got Victor Martinez to cross the plate with a groundout to short.
Drew Smyly (1-0) picked up the win after Joaquin Benoit was able to preserve the save in the bottom half of the final frame. Benoit gave up a single to Smoak and two batters later, surrendered a double to Dustin Ackley. With Smoak chugging around third, Torii Hunter fielded the ball and got it to Fielder, who rifled the ball to Pena at home plate. Smoak, dead to rights, plowed into Pena at the plate.
“I knew off the bat I was trying to score. They had to make a perfect relay throw to get me. He was up the line, I didn’t really know where to go, so I had to do what I had to do,” Smoak said.
Pena, though, absorbed the hit and managed to hold on to the ball to end the game.
“I just need to hold the ball and take the hit. My main goal was to hold on to the baseball. It doesn’t matter where you’re body’s going to go, just hold on to the baseball,” Pena said. “These guys really deserved this win. They battled the entire day, it was just a team victory for us.”
Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and Detroit’s Max Scherzer set the tone with dominant starts, each striking out 12 batters over eight innings. Hernandez allowed four hits and an unearned run, while Scherzer gave up six hits and one earned run.
Detroit won its fourth game in a row and earned a fourth straight series victory. While Fielder made a great throw on the game-ending play, he was terrible at the plate, going 0-for-6 with five strikeouts.
Both starters were dealing through the first four innings, with each team only recording a single hit off the opposing pitcher, but Detroit broke through first in the fifth.
Martinez reached on a fielding error by shortstop Brendan Ryan and then moved to third on a double by Andy Dirks. Martinez then trotted home on Peralta’s groundout to short for 1-0 Detroit lead.
Hernandez didn’t let it get any worse, though, and retired five of the next eight batters he faced via strikeout, with Peralta going down swinging in the seventh.
Raul Ibanez then provided the equalizer in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Morse led the frame off with a double down the left field line, and Ibanez plated him with a grounder through the right side.
The last time both starter had 12+ strikeouts in same game was April 9, 2003 when Mark Prior and Javier Vazquez accomplished the feat … The Major League record for total strikeouts in a game is 43 … Martinez was the only batter in either starting lineup to not strike out … Fielder is 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts so far in this series … Hunter extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He was 2-for-5.