Brown wins first game as Mariners’ manager
SEATTLE – Daren Brown began his Monday boarding a 6:30 a.m. flight in Omaha, headed to manage the sunken Mariners.
The 43-year-old ended it by dutifully climbing into a laundry bin in Seattle and being rolled down a hallway by closer David Aardsma into his first major-league beer shower. He looked like an oversized baby in a stroller, smiling with his feet dangling over the front edge and arms over the sides.
He celebrated like a man who had finally made it to the big leagues after 1,485 games managing in the minors – and won.
“I told them I would do it,” a grinning Brown said of submitting to the suds.
Last-place Seattle welcomed its new interim manager by getting its first triple play in 15 years in a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, on a night that was far more efficient and successful than the ones that got Don Wakamatsu fired hours earlier.
“If I was going to sit down and draw it up, that’s how I would have done it,” Brown said in his Oklahoman drawl, after moving up from Triple-A Tacoma earlier Monday.
He got the game ball from center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who caught the final out. It will be the first souvenir for Brown’s new office, which was empty after Wakamatsu was forced to clear it out following one good season and about half a terrible one.
Brown became the 10th of Seattle’s 17 managers to win their first game. Only one of the other 16 finished their Mariners tenure with a winning record: Lou Piniella.
Oakland remained flailing in the clutch while sliding back to eight games behind idle and first-place Texas in the AL West.
“It’s definitely a frustrating loss, especially after seeing our friend get fired from that team,” A’s second baseman Mark Ellis said of Wakamatsu, Oakland’s bench coach in 2008 who still keeps in regular contact with many A’s players.
Brown, a 10-year veteran of Seattle’s system, is the team’s sixth manager in the eight seasons since Piniella left in 2002. He said he got word the Mariners were promoting him at 11:30 Central time Sunday night, following Tacoma’s 12-inning win at Omaha.
“Uh, I’m pretty tired,” Brown said.
Aardsma didn’t care. He said Brown was still due a traditional postgame celebration.
“It’s sad to see ‘Wak’ go. We played ourselves into that position,” Aardsma said after his 21st save in 25 chances. “But we got to start anew with ‘Brownie.”‘
“Brownie” looked tired while hanging on the padded dugout railing early on. But he and the rest of the 19,943 attending were awakened in the top of the fourth by Seattle’s first triple play since July 13, 1995, against Toronto.
“I’d say we were due,” Brown said dryly employing “we” with the Mariners for the first time.
Jose Lopez took a chopper by Ellis and immediately stepped on third base for a forceout. Lopez then threw to second base for a forceout there and Chone Figgins’ throw to first baseman Casey Kotchman appeared to arrive at the same time as Ellis’ foot hit the bag, but first base umpire Cory Blaser called Ellis out.
Ellis argued the call to no avail. Seattle’s lead remained 2-0 – and Oakland’s string of consecutive hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position stayed on its way to 35.
The 5-4-3 play was the 10th triple putout for the Mariners, who began play in 1977. Doug Fister, Seattle’s 26-year-old starter, said it was the first time he’d ever been part of a triple play, dating through Little League.
RBI singles by Lopez and Franklin Gutierrez with two out in the first off Vin Mazzaro (6-4) gave Fister (4-8) and relievers Sean White, Brandon League and Aardsma all the runs they needed.
Fister won for the first time in eight decisions and 12 starts, since May 14. He allowed seven hits and one run in six innings. He walked one and struck out five. Oakland’s only damage off him was a single by Coco Crisp and a double by Rajai Davis to begin the sixth.
Seattle pitchers retired the final 12 A’s batters to end it.
Touted outfielder Chris Carter became the last of Oakland’s haul of six prospects received in the Dan Haren trade a couple of years ago to reach the major leagues. Carter went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in his debut.
NOTES: Mariners starting SS Jack Wilson (broken hand) is scheduled for surgery Wednesday and is likely to miss the rest of the season. … The A’s placed OF Matt Watson on the 15-day disabled list and optioned OF Matt Carson to Triple-A Sacramento. Besides Carter, Oakland also recalled 1B Jeff Larish from Sacramento in time to start the game. Manager Bob Geren said Watson had a procedure Monday morning to remove a kidney stone.
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Fueled in part by Tampa Bay’s surprise victory in the Super Bowl, Nevada sports books recorded their fourth-highest win of all time in January.