The Seattle Mariners advanced to the second round of the Millennium Playoffs via an exciting 7-game series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. A recap of the games:
Game #1 - SEA 1, STL 0 (11)
Seattle's workhorse starter Roy Oswalt (17-10) squared off against the Cards' Cliff Lee (19-8) in the opener. Oswalt pitched 10 scoreless innings while Lee tossed 9 of his own. The game went to the 11th inning still scoreless. Three singles off Cardinals reliever Broxton gave the Mariners the lead. Then, Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless bottom of the 11th to preserve the victory.
Game #2 - STL 11, SEA 7
The second game matchup consisted of Seattle's Jon Lester (20-4) vs. St. Louis righty starter Ubaldo Jimenez (12-10). Seattle jumped out to an early 6-0 lead as Pujols, Braun and Molina all hit roundtrippers. But, the Cards hung a 6-spot on Lester in the 5th to take a 7-6 lead. Big hit was a three-run blast by Melvin Mora. From then on, the Redbirds' bullpen held the potent Seattle offense at bay enroute to the win.
Game #3 STL 4, SEA 3
Series switches to Seattle for the next three games. It's Cards' Gil Meche (14-12) going up against Seattle's Felix Hernandez (14-7) in this one. Jason Kubel hit a 2-run homer off King Felix to help give St. Louis the lead. Gil Meche pitched 6+ gritty innings and the often beleaguered St. Louis bullpen (Broxton, Tallet, BJ Ryan) pitched 2 2/3 of scoreless relief to make the lead stand up. Several Mariner runners were thrown out at the plate in this game. Cards grab a 2-1 series lead.
Game #4 STL 2, SEA 1 (13)
It's back to our Oswalt vs. Lee matchup in this one. And these two pitchers pitched heroically again - Oswalt 10 innings, 1 run and 10 strikeouts; Lee 10 innings, 1 run and 8 K's. Both runs were off solo homers - Adam LaRoche for the Cards and Elijah Dukes for Seattle. Then, in the top of the 13th, Adam LaRoche hit his second homer of the game to give the Cards the lead. BJ Ryan followed up with a scoreless inning of relief to get the save. Cards lead 3 games to 1.
Game #5 SEA 6, STL 5
Lester against Jimenez again for Game 5. The Mariners, on the brink of elimination, stayed alive as Carlos Quentin hit a grand slam home run off Marte (who had just been brought in) to grab a 6-3 lead. Cards scored two in the 7th to knock out Lester to make it a one-run game again. But, veteran Mike Mussina in a relief role, pitched 1 1/3 innings of clutch relief and then Francisco Rodriguez (who had 47 saves in the regular season for Seattle) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to give Seattle the hard fought win.
Game #6 SEA 5, STL 3 (12)
Back to St. Louis for Game 6. Kazmir (9-11) gets the start for Seattle against Meche. With the Cards leading 2-1 in the 8th, the Mariners finally got to Meche and scored two runs to grab a 3-2 lead. Pujols had four hits in this game. Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth as Seattle was nursing a one-run lead. But, the Cards scratched out a run to tie the game and even had another runner on third base with two out, but K-Rod hung in there and got Guzman for the final out. On to extra innings for the third time in the series! Then, Dukes, Pujols and Molina got key hits in the 12th off loser BJ Ryan to send the series to a seventh game.
Game #7 SEA 15, STL 1
In what looked like another epic battle between two aces (Oswalt 0.45 ERA in the first two starts, Lee 0.47 ERA) turned into a laugher very quickly. The Cardinal defense committed three costly errors behind Lee that led to 5 unearned runs and just like that - Seattle had a commanding 8-1 lead after four innings. Meanwhile, series MVP Roy Oswalt pitched another gem by only allowing 1 run over 6 innings. The powerful Seattle offense, largely held in check throughout the series, woke up this game by hitting 9 doubles, 1 triple and two homers.
Congrats to the Seattle Mariners who now face Kansas City in the Semi-Finals......