No place like Safeco Field for Saunders

Starting pitcher now 3-0 with 0.94 ERA at home for Mariners, who win two of three in weekend series with Oakland

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comMay 13, 2013 

SEATTLE — Perhaps Joe Saunders can wear his home uniform under his road uniform next time he pitches away from Safeco Field.

Based on his work at home, it would not be a surprise to see Saunders formally change his name to “Safeco Joe.”

After another 6 stout innings in his home park Sunday during the Seattle Mariners’ 6-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, Saunders’ home record is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA. His road mark is 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA. He can’t explain the difference.

“As much as it’s killing everybody in here, it’s killing me the most,” Saunders said. “I don’t like to go out and do that on the road. I consider myself a pretty good road pitcher and it just hasn’t happened yet. As much as it’s probably eating (pitching coach) Carl (Willis) and (manager Eric Wedge), it’s eating me more. Just going to have to deal with it.”

He had a careening start against the A’s. Back-to-back doubles in the second brought home a run. Brendan Ryan swallowed up a grounder and threw home to cut down a possible second run in the inning.

Saunders (3-4) put two on in the third inning before wriggling free. A single by Adam Rosales ended Saunders’ night in the seventh inning.

Wedge said he sees no difference in Saunders’ stuff on the road versus at home. Though his command on the road has been a problem, according to Wedge.

In his career, Saunders has been a better pitcher on the road. Prior to Sunday, he had a 3.94 ERA in 94 road starts and a 4.47 ERA in 102 starts at home since his major-league debut in 2005.

“I don’t think that’s going to keep up,” Wedge said of Saunders’ road woes.

The left-hander is able to joke about the road-home dynamic when he is comfortably in front of his locker at Safeco. Asked what he was going to take with him on the road following Sunday’s start, Saunders said, “Everything and anything.”

The Mariners, 10-5 in their past 15 games could use it. They have moved near the quarter-pole of the season (18-20) with heavy reliance on Felix Hernandez (1.53 ERA) and Hisashi Iwakuma (1.74), who have been two of the best starters in the American League. Saunders has the third-best ERA among those in the Seattle rotation at 5.51.

Kendrys Morales cleaned up in his second game as the No. 4 hitter. His three-run homer to left-center field in the first inning was his fourth of the season and likely would have fallen short in 2012.

Morales’ 385-foot launch of a 2-0 pitch from Oakland starter Tommy Milone (4-4) went over a portion of the Safeco Field fence that was drawn in to produce just such results.

Jason Bay also homered, his fourth of the season, and Michael Morse had two hits. Kyle Seager, who was moved to third in the batting order, hit a sacrifice fly. Jesus Montero went 1-for-4 and knocked in a run.

With the victory, the Mariners picked up another series win and creeped closer to the .500 mark and second place in the American League West. They are a half-game behind Oakland for the honor, with a nine-game trip to New York, Cleveland and Los Angeles starting Tuesday in New York against the Yankees.

SAUNDERS AT SAFECO

Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders’ career statistics while pitching at Safeco Field and elsewhere:

StartsIPERERAW-L

Safeco1383.2161.729-0

Others18411255484.3872-69

Todd Dybas todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/ @Todd_Dybas

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