Detroit at Seattle

Final 15th
W: A. Lopez (3-1) L: J. Burke (0-1)
S: T. Jones (16)
HR: DET - R. Raburn (4)   SEA - None

Mariners pitch backup catcher in the 15th, pay for it against Tigers wire reports

SEATTLE -- Once Ichiro Suzuki heard that backup catcher Jamie Burke was about to take the mound, he hustled over to manager Jim Riggleman and volunteered his services.

If the Seattle Mariners were desperate enough to use their third-string catcher on the mound, why not their All-Star right fielder. After all, this is a team whose only grand slam in this downtrodden season belongs to a pitcher.

"We were having a good little laugh watching him throw," Seattle starter Ryan Rowland-Smith said.

Having already shuffled through the able bodies in the bullpen, the Mariners went beyond their second and third options, asking Burke to enter in the 15th inning and adding a comical tone to a 1-all game Sunday afternoon.

But Burke's effort certainly wasn't a joke. Burke threw well for a catcher-turned-pitcher, but the Detroit Tigers finally broke through with a sacrifice fly from Marcus Thames to escape with a 2-1 win over the Mariners and a split of the four-game series.

When Burke walked to the mound to start the 15th, most believed he was simply just throwing a few pitches to Jeff Clement, who was taking over behind the plate. They didn't know about Burke's past, that he had thrown four innings in the minors, and that he could throw four pitches for strikes.

Burke became the third position player in Mariners' history to take the mound. His first pitch was 82 mph and he hit 86 on the stadium radar gun.

But while players in both dugouts hugged the railings and stood on the top step snickering at the situation, Miguel Cabrera was too busy taking advantage. Cabrera lined a double to center field, lumbering into second. He was lifted for pinch runner Michael Hollimon, who advanced to third when Burke (0-1) tried to throw a slider that slipped from his hands and ended up in the netting of the backstop.

Thames then lifted a fly ball to deep left field that easily scored Hollimon with the winning run.

"I take it very seriously because it was an important game for us," Cabrera said. "I have to do the best I can do."

Burke did rebound nicely. He got a groundout from Ivan Rodriguez and a fly out from Edgar Renteria, and headed to the dugout to a standing ovation from the crowd that stuck around.

"Everybody thinks they can do everything. Everybody wants to try something," Burke said. "But once you get on that mound; I've never talked about that I've pitched or anything like that, because I know how hard it is to get on that mound."

Todd Jones pitched the bottom of the 15th for his 16th save in 17 chances, picking up the win for Aquilino Lopez (3-1), who pitched a scoreless 14th despite a potentially costly error from left fielder Clete Thomas.

"It was definitely one of the weirdest games I've been in," Jones said. "To have a position player have to pitch in the game was just an unfortunate break, but a good one for us."

Riggleman was forced to use Burke because his bullpen was spread thin. Reliever Arthur Rhodes woke up with a sore arm and couldn't get loose. Brandon Morrow had pitched four of the previous five days and Riggleman wanted to give him a day off. Tuesday's scheduled starter, Carlos Silva, had thrown on the side earlier Sunday. Saturday's starter, R.A. Dickey, volunteered to throw, but had tossed more than 100 pitches in his start.

Burke's name stuck in Riggleman's head as someone to ask. Others offered up their help, including Willie Bloomquist and Adrian Beltre.

"I said I wanted to. I asked," Suzuki added.

Lost in the novelty of Burke's appearance was outstanding pitching on both sides, most notably Detroit starter Nate Robertson.

Robertson was outstanding, pitching nine innings, giving up just four hits and one earned run. Seattle did have a chance in the ninth to win against Robertson when Suzuki reached on an infield single and was at second with one out.

Robertson then picked the right time for his first strikeout of the day, getting Raul Ibanez to chase a 1-2 curveball. After a second consecutive intentional walk to Beltre, Richie Sexson flew out to center field to end the inning.

Robertson reversed a season-long trend of poor pitching away from home. His only mistake was Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI double in the third that accounted for Seattle's lone run.

Robertson was the first of five pitchers used by the Tigers. Seattle went seven deep, the last being Burke, who became the first Mariners' position player to pitch since John Mabry in 2000 against Tampa Bay.

Rowland-Smith threw five strong innings in just his second professional start for Seattle, his lone mistake being Ryan Raburn's solo home run in the fifth. After Rowland-Smith, Seattle's bullpen combined for nine shutout innings before Thames' sacrifice fly.

The Tigers' staff was even better, holding Seattle to just four hits after the third inning.

"This may have been the best game Nate has thrown that I've seen," Jones said. "Those guys were great and we just sort of outlasted them today."


  • It was the longest game of the season, by innings, for both teams. The previous long for both was 12 innings.
  • Suzuki was selected to his eighth straight All-Star team on Sunday and was the only Seattle representative. Detroit's lone representative will be 3B Carlos Guillen, who was selected as a reserve. It will be the third All-Star appearance for Guillen.
  • Detroit sent utility man Brandon Inge out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Sunday. Inge went on the disabled list June 23 with a pulled oblique. Manager Jim Leyland hopes to get Inge back after the All-Star break.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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The Tigers' offensive troubles continue on Sunday, but defense and pitching keep them in it.  (AP)
The Tigers' offensive troubles continue on Sunday, but defense and pitching keep them in it. (AP)

Players of the Game

N. Robertson
IP 9.0
H 4
ER 1
BB 2
K 1

I. Rodriguez
AB 7
R 0
H 4
HR 0

Related Video

April 21, 2017
This weekend in baseball: AL Central (1:19)
Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF4010214 .298
Placido Polanco, 2B7010007 .313
Carlos Guillen, 3B-1B6000113 .286
Miguel Cabrera, 1B6010102 .282
    Michael Hollimon, PR-3B0100000 .261
Marcus Thames, DH6001033 .259
Ivan Rodriguez, C7040000 .290
Edgar Renteria, SS7000024 .254
Clete Thomas, LF5000112 .295
Ryan Raburn, RF1111101 .229
   a- Matt Joyce, PH-RF1000310 .222
a-walked for Raburn in the 6th
2B - Placido Polanco (18, Rowland-Smith), Miguel Cabrera (20, Burke)
HR - Ryan Raburn (4, Rowland-Smith)
SF - Marcus Thames (1)
SH - Curtis Granderson (1)
RBI - Marcus Thames (36), Ryan Raburn (10)
CS - Ivan Rodriguez (1, 2nd base by Rowland-Smith/Johjima)
Team LOB - 14
Outfield Assists - Clete Thomas 1
DP - Renteria-Polanco-Cabrera, Renteria-Polanco-Guillen
E - Placido Polanco (6, Throwing), Clete Thomas (4, Dropped fly)
Detroit Tigers
Nate Robertson 9411210 5.19
Joel Zumaya 2000230 2.16
Freddy Dolsi 2200100 3.16
Aquilino Lopez (W,3-1) 1000000 2.60
Todd Jones (S,16) 1000000 5.08
IBB - Beltre by Nate Robertson, by Beltre
HBP - Bloomquist (by Todd Jones)
Pitches-Strikes - Nate Robertson 100-60, Joel Zumaya 37-26, Freddy Dolsi 37-21, Aquilino Lopez 16-10, Todd Jones 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nate Robertson 12-13, Joel Zumaya 1-2, Freddy Dolsi 5-0, Aquilino Lopez 1-3, Todd Jones 1-1
Batters Faced - Nate Robertson 32, Joel Zumaya 8, Freddy Dolsi 8, Aquilino Lopez 4, Todd Jones 3
Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF6010100 .302
Jose Lopez, 2B5010010 .301
Raul Ibanez, LF5010112 .279
Adrian Beltre, 3B4000211 .247
Richie Sexson, DH6000003 .215
    Jeff Clement, C0000000 .185
Miguel Cairo, 1B6010000 .218
Kenji Johjima, C3000000 .220
    Jeremy Reed, PR0000000 .293
    Jamie Burke, C-P3000001 .218
Willie Bloomquist, CF4110102 .255
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS6011013 .269
2B - Raul Ibanez (25, Robertson), Yuniesky Betancourt (22, Robertson)
SH - Jose Lopez (6)
RBI - Yuniesky Betancourt (29)
CS - Ichiro Suzuki (3, 2nd base by Dolsi/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 9
Seattle Mariners
Ryan Rowland-Smith 5511321 2.92
Mark Lowe 1100210 4.24
Roy Corcoran 2000020 3.75
Miguel Batista 1000110 6.27
Sean Green 1100100 3.00
Cesar Jimenez 4000230 0.00
Jamie Burke (L,0-1) 1111000 9.00
WP - Cesar Jimenez (1), Jamie Burke (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Rowland-Smith 83-53, Mark Lowe 38-22, Roy Corcoran 21-13, Miguel Batista 19-10, Sean Green 20-10, Cesar Jimenez 57-34, Jamie Burke 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Rowland-Smith 6-6, Mark Lowe 1-1, Roy Corcoran 2-2, Miguel Batista 1-1, Sean Green 3-0, Cesar Jimenez 3-6, Jamie Burke 1-2
Batters Faced - Ryan Rowland-Smith 22, Mark Lowe 6, Roy Corcoran 6, Miguel Batista 4, Sean Green 5, Cesar Jimenez 14, Jamie Burke 4
Game Information
Attendance - 29083
Game Time - 4:12
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Mike Winters, Second Base - Brian Knight, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt