TORONTO -- Michael Saunders was trying to recall the last time he'd hit a grand slam before Friday night's 10th-inning game winner against the Blue Jays and his mind clicked to a 2007 Class A Minor League contest when he beat none other than current teammate Steve Delabar with a game-winning blast.
But Delabar, who was pitching for the Padres' Lake Elsinore team at the time, recalled a slightly different version.
"OK," said Delabar. "He did a hit a home run off me. I don't think it was a grand slam, though. And he didn't even know until I told him he hit a home run off me when I met up with him in Triple-A last year."
That led to some renewed ribbing between the two and some research that revealed Saunders actually hit a solo home run on May 22, 2007, in the ninth inning for High Desert to beat Delabar, the walk-off shot being his second home run of the day.
"My mistake," Saunders laughed. "It wasn't a grand slam. But it was a walk-off and I'll take that any day."
Delabar wasn't letting go that easily, though.
"Tell him to make sure there has to be guys on base to call it a grand slam. The Canadian exchange rate doesn't work that way," he said of his Victoria, B.C., teammate. "And it was in High Desert. It was basically windblown. It wouldn't have been out in any other ballpark.
"In fact, if I'm telling the story, he popped out."
Noesi nearly realized running dream
TORONTO -- Starting pitcher Hector Noesi was brimming with excitement Friday night after manager Eric Wedge told him to go get his spikes and warm up in case the Mariners needed a pinch-runner in the top of the 10th inning in what turned into a 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
With Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Alex Liddi filling the bases, Michael Saunders then launched a grand slam that lifted Seattle to victory and ended any need for Noesi, who charged into the happy celebration wearing a batting helmet.
The Mariners had used all their position players by that point and Wedge wanted to make sure he had somebody ready in case of injury.
"Not sure why he had the helmet on," Wedge said with a chuckle Saturday. "That was false hustle. I just told him to get the spikes on."
Noesi was still living the unfulfilled dream a day later.
"I didn't do it, but it was great," said Noesi, whose next start will be Tuesday in Tampa Bay. "I was starting to warm up and stretch, because I'd been sitting the whole game. I was just waiting for the moment. But I was hoping we'd get a hit and get a run in."
Noesi, who came up in the Yankees organization before being traded to Seattle this offseason, has never had a professional at-bat or appeared as a pinch-runner.
"No, but I can run the bases. And maybe hit, too, sometimes," Noesi insisted. "I played third base when I was younger, until I was 18."
Noesi assumed if he'd been called upon, he'd have replaced Smoak at third or Montero at second.
"It's just a game. You have to enjoy it," he said with a smile. "If they'd put me in, maybe I'd steal third base. And maybe home plate."
Wedge said Noesi would only have been used in an extreme emergency, however, since the Mariners would have needed to insert him on defense in the bottom of the 10th with no one else left on the bench.
How far would the scenarios have had to play out for all that to happen?
"Pretty far," Wedge said. "But you never know. If somebody gets hurt, depending on who it is, you just never know. When you get to that spot, you've got to be prepared for it."
Luetge gets big assist from Ichiro
TORONTO -- Lucas Luetge hasn't allowed an earned run in his first nine Major League appearances, but he found a new way to keep opponents off the scoreboard in Friday's 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
The Mariners' Rule 5 rookie replaced Steve Delabar with runners on first and second and two out in the seventh, immediately gave up a single to Adam Lind ... and got out of the inning when right fielder Ichiro Suzuki threw out J.P. Arencibia at the plate to preserve the 3-3 tie.
That run would have been charged to Delabar, but Luetge happily avoided his role in that fate with Ichiro's help.
"That's why they tell us to throw strikes, for that reason right there," Luetge said. "You know you're going to give up hits sometimes. You just hope something like that helps you out."
The sinking sensation of seeing a pitch lined into right field was quickly replaced by elation for Luetge, who has allowed five hits now in 5 2/3 innings.
"You don't even care. You gave up a hit, but we got an out that helped us win the game," said Luetge. "If they score there, we probably lose. Initially off the bat, you're upset. But as the play progresses, I gave a little fist pump and everything. You try not to think about it. I made a bad pitch, he hit it and Ichiro threw him out. That's why he's out there. I wasn't too worried about giving up a hit after that."
The outfield assist was the 99th of Ichiro's career, tying him with Torii Hunter and Carlos Lee for sixth among active players. Since 2001, he's second to Jeff Francoeur's 100.
Manager Eric Wedge appreciated that play on both ends.
"It was the throw and the tag," said Wedge. "With Ichi going to the line and having to throw across his body like that, he's been one of the best in the game throughout his career at that. And Miguel Olivo did a great job snatching it and putting the tag right on him there. That was a great play."
When Saunders hit his solo home run in the ninth and grand slam in the 10th on Friday, he became just the third Mariners player to hit two home runs in the ninth inning or later. Donnie Scott did it on April 29, 1985, against the Brewers and Jim Presley had two late bombs on Opening Day 1986 against the Angels, including a walk-off slam in the 10th.
Designated hitter Jesus Montero collected his 12th RBI with a solo home run Friday, tying him with Kenji Johjima (2006) for the most RBIs by a Mariners rookie in April since 1986. Alvin Davis holds the club record for April rookie RBIs with 17 in 1984.