PEORIA, Ariz. - Michael Pineda earned his spot in the Seattle Mariners rotation Saturday, and in the process got a good look at how frustrating that job title can be.
Throwing six shutout innings, Pineda got one run of support – good for a 1-0 lead – but the Milwaukee Brewers came back for a 2-1 victory in 10 innings, dropping Seattle’s record to 14-11-1.
“I’m ready for the season, all my pitches were down in the zone,” Pineda said. “My changeups were down in the zone – I used them to make sure they knew I had another pitch.”
Pineda dominated a solid Brewers team, faced the minimum through three innings, needed only six pitches in a 1-2-3 inning, and looked like a ready-for-prime-time pitcher.
“You’ve seen his consistency all spring, but he took it to another level today,” manager Eric Wedge said. “His secondary stuff has always been there, but today the situation didn’t matter – right-handed hitter, left-handed hitter, any time he wanted to throw it.
“There will be situations he’ll go through that will be new to him, but he’s handled everything well, so far.”
Pineda threw 77 pitches over six innings, allowed two hits, two walks and struck out seven. He could go to Oakland with the Mariners or stay behind and make a minor league start next week in preparation for his first start of the year – probably April 5 in Texas.
“We’ll look at that and come up with an answer for you,” Wedge said after the game.
Among other things, Pineda proved he could make adjustments against good hitters. Last week against the Brewers, Rickie Weeks hit him hard. Not this time around.
“The first time, I hadn’t faced Weeks, I pitched him away with fastballs and he proved he could see them, so I threw him low and inside today,” Pineda said.
The big rookie overthrew when facing Prince Fielder and walked him. Other than that, there was only one major disappointment – batting.
Pineda became the first Mariners pitcher all spring to get an at-bat, and was under orders not to swing. He didn’t, and struck out twice looking.
“I was given orders not to swing to prevent an injury,” Pineda said. “I wanted to swing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t.”
In the 10th inning, the Mariners turned to 22-year-old left-hander Brian Moran, who spent most of 2010 in Class A, and his nervousness showed. The Brewers loaded the bases with no one out, then scored when Matt Tuiasosopo ran down a fly ball but had no chance to throw out the runner at the plate.
GUTI STILL A NO-GO
Another day with no word on the status of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who hasn’t played in the last seven days because of a stomach ailment.
More medical tests were taken Thursday and Friday, and while the Mariners had hoped they might hear something Saturday, they didn’t – and might have to wait until Monday for results.
When Gutierrez was sidelined by stomach ailments for a second stretch – and the Mariners didn’t bring Gabe Gross back from minor league camp – Gross could see he had little chance of getting to Seattle.
Given that, Gross asked for and received his release and is now a free agent.
Felix Hernandez will make his final start of spring today, pitching against a minor league team in the Seattle complex. He’s scheduled to throw 90-95 pitches.
On Wednesday in Los Angeles, the Mariners end their exhibition schedule in Dodgers Stadium. Starting pitcher: Erik Bedard. That ensures that Bedard will open the 2011 season as the No. 4 starter in the rotation.
Josh Wilson turned 30 on Saturday, and teammate Jack Wilson got ahold of family photos – prom shots, baby shots, etc. – and had them enlarged. Then he plastered the clubhouse with them. Josh, known as the “Paper Boy” because of his youthful appearance, is one of the more popular men in the clubhouse. But his chances of making the opening day roster aren’t good. ... The Mariners have yet to sell out a home game, and thousands of Safeco Field seats remain available – even for the home opener on April 8. ... News from Brewers camp: One-time Mariners center fielder Jeremy Reed appears to have won a job as Milwaukee’s fourth outfielder. ... In minor-league games, Adam Kennedy went 1-for-6 and Jack Cust 2-for-6. ... Chris Ray, who appears to be the club’s leading setup man, gave up an unearned run in the eighth inning when Brendan Ryan booted a ground ball. Ray struck out two but allowed a single with a man in scoring position.
Seattle hosts Texas in a 1:05 p.m. game today in Peoria, Ariz., on the MLB Network and 710-AM. Probable starting pitchers: Colby Lewis vs. Seattle’s Luke French.