M's provide Pineda with just enough

MARINERS 3, BLUE JAYS 2: Rookie right-hander takes shutout into eighth inning for first big-league victory

April 13, 2011 

Michael Pineda

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Michael Pineda throws against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning of a baseball game in Seattle. (AP Photo)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE - Rookie Michael Pineda dazzled in the first home start of his career, taking a shutout into the eighth inning for his first major-league win, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2, on Tuesday night at Safeco Field.

The 22-year-old Pineda, making just his second major league start, left the Blue Jays guessing all night. He was clocked as high as 99 mph on the stadium radar gun but also worked in nasty off-speed pitches, including a biting slider that twisted Travis Snider for his sixth strikeout to end the seventh inning.

Pineda (1-1) went 7 innings, giving up just five hits and one earned run. He struck out seven and walked two.

Pineda didn’t get a lot of run support, but he got what he needed.

Ryan Langerhans hit a two-run homer in the third inning off Toronto starter Ricky Romero, who was otherwise brilliant. Romero (1-1) retired 14 straight batters at one point and pitched into the eighth.

Pineda’s performance only raises hopes for Mariners fans of what a future rotation could be with Felix Hernandez and Pineda at the top.

And on this homestand, it was Pineda outpitching Hernandez, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner who was tagged for seven earned runs and 12 hits one night earlier by the Blue Jays.

Pineda came out for the eighth inning having given up just three hits and retiring the previous eight batters after Edwin Encarnacion’s single in the fifth. Encarnacion started the eighth with a sharp single to left and just as the Seattle bullpen started stirring, Pineda got Jayson Nix looking at a 97 mph fastball.

Then trouble arose. Yunel Escobar walked and, after a passed ball by catcher Miguel Olivo, Corey Patterson ended Pineda’s night with a sharp single to right field that scored a pair.

Pineda left to a standing ovation as Chris Ray entered to face Jose Bautista, but before Bautista could do anything, Olivo threw wildly to second as Patterson attempted to steal and advanced to third on the errant throw.

Olivo got bailed out when Bautista popped out down the right field line. First baseman Justin Smoak made a difficult catch, spun and threw home to get Patterson trying to tag and score the tying run.

Brandon League pitched the ninth for his second save in as many chances.

Seattle struck against Romero in the third, deciding to get its offense started a little earlier than a night before, when the Mariners scored eight runs in the final three innings for a stunning 8-7 win over the Blue Jays.

Brendan Ryan started the third with a solid single and one pitch later was trotting home after Langerhans’ team-leading third homer of the season. It was just his fourth hit overall this year in 19 at-bats to that point.

After Ichiro Suzuki tapped back to the mound, Jack Wilson made it to second after Nix rushed his throw on a high chopper, sending it into the stands behind first base.

Wilson stole third and scored when Bradley fought off a 2-2 pitch and dumped it into right field.

Romero settled down from there, retiring 14 straight Mariners after Bradley’s single, including four strikeouts. Romero was charged with just two earned runs and struck out eight, but he suffered his first loss of the season.

M’S RALLY STUNS JAYS LATE MONDAY NIGHT

The few Mariners fans that hung around from the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history Monday night saw one of the most improbable comebacks in recent team history.

Luis Rodriguez lined a two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning off Shawn Camp to cap Seattle’s rally for an 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in a game that ended after The Olympian went to press.

The remarkable rally snapped Seattle’s seven-game losing streak despite only 13,056 showing up for the game, the lowest attendance in the 12-year history of Safeco Field.

Seattle trailed 7-0 entering the seventh before the rally began, thanks largely to an eighth-inning meltdown by the Blue Jays bullpen. Octavio Dotel walked in two runs and Mark Rzepczynski walked in another before allowing a single to Justin Smoak that scored two and pulled Seattle within one.

Michael Saunders led off the ninth with a double. After a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Ichiro was intentionally walked and stole second to set up the winning hit.

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