ANAHEIM, Calif. — One of the game’s slowest-working pitchers is not above employing the deception of a quick pitch.
Mariners reliever Joel Peralta used the tactic Friday to strike out Angels outfielder Mike Trout in the ninth inning while protecting a 2-2 tie. Peralta also quick-pitched Albert Pujols, the next hitter, before retiring him on a fly to center.
"With Trout," Peralta said, "I never did it (before). This is my third time facing him. I know he was looking for it because I saw Pujols talking to him. But even if he knows it’s coming, if I execute it, it’s a tough pitch to hit.
"It throws off (a hitter’s) timing especially when the hitter loads up. They don’t hit it as hard."
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Peralta’s one-two-three ninth sent the game the game to extra innings. The Mariners scored three times in the 10th and, when Steve Cishek closed it out, Peralta got credit for the victory.
"The main thing about the quick pitch," Peralta said, "is to try to not let the hitter load up and feel comfortable at the plate."
Peralta’s natural motion is a stretch delivery with a pause — the pause is required with men on base to avoid getting called for a balk. But no balk is possible with the bases empty, so Peralta occasionally omits the pause.
A quick pitch.
"I pick my spots," he said. "Most of the time, it’s with two strikes. But with Pujols, I did it with one strike. (Catcher Chris) Iannetta has been great about it. He called it most of the time."
Right-hander Felix Hernandez walked into the Mariners’ clubhouse around 2:30 p.m. Saturday and, in response to the obvious question, declared: "I’m good."
So Hernandez got the ball Saturday night, one day after being scratched from a scheduled start in the series opener against the Angels because of "flu-like" symptoms.
Hernandez worked seven innings but paid dearly for a mistake against Mike Trout, which resulted in a two-run homer that proved decisive in a 4-2 loss.
As a consolation prize, the King became the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts by pushing his career count to 2,166. He began the day tied with Randy Johnson at 2,162.
By pitching Saturday, Hernandez is now in line for an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Friday against Kansas City at Safeco Field.
Hisashi Iwakuma will remain slotted ahead of Hernandez after replacing him Friday against the Angels. That means the Mariners will use Taijuan Walker, Nathan Karns and Iwakuma for their upcoming series against Houston.
THREE IN A ROW
Steve Cishek entered Saturday in the verge of a personal milestone after recording saves in three straight games for just the second time in his career. He now needs just one more to reach 100 for his career.
The only other time that Cishek recorded saves in three straight games was July 20-22, 2014 while pitching for Miami. He recorded one-two-three innings in each of his last three saves while throwing just 34 pitches.
"I wish," he said, "it was always that easy."
Through Friday, Cishek had allowed one run and four hits in nine innings over eight appearances. He had nine strikeouts and one walk in that span.
Cishek, Peralta and the rest of the Mariners’ bullpen racked up some impressive numbers through the first one-10th of the season.
The group entered Saturday’s game leading the majors by holding opponents to a .160 average (29-for-181). It also led the American League in opponents’ on-base percentage (.231) and in permitting the fewest baserunners per nine innings (8.3).
There might be some luck involved, though.
Opposing hitters are batting just .195 against the Mariners’ bullpen on balls in play. That BABIP is the lowest against any AL reliever corps and suggests some correction to the norm is likely to occur.
EIGHT FOR EIGHT
The Mariners are 8-9 with all eight of their victories belonging to different pitchers.
The roll call: Nick Vincent (April 5), Joaquin Benoit (April 6), Cishek (April 13), Nathan Karns (April 15), Felix Hernandez (April 16), Taijuan Walker (April 20), Tony Zych (April 22) and Peralta (April 23).
It is the second time in the franchise’s 40-year history that eight different pitchers accounted for the club’s first victories.
The other time was 2003 with Jeff Nelson, Ryan Franklin, Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Gil Meche, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Joel Pineiro and Arthur Rhodes. That streak ended at eight games when Nelson got the club’s ninth victory.
Hi-A Bakersfield right-hander Andrew Moore pitched seven no-hit innings Friday night against Lake Elsinore (Angels) before exiting in a 10-0 victory after 97 pitches.
The bullpen couldn’t complete the gem. Lake Elsinore wound up with two hits.
"I thought I might get to try at eight," Moore said. "As soon as I came in, I saw (pitching coach Ethan) Katz was on the phone and I’m sure he was calling one of the (player development) guys with the organization. I knew I was done.
"I felt like I did my job and we have a really good bullpen. My stuff was starting to sneak up in the zone and get a little bit elevated, so I’m sure that was the right call by ‘Chaca (manager Eddie Manchaca)."
Moore, 21, was the Mariners’ second pick in last June’s draft after a standout career at Oregon State. His victory Friday was his first in four starts at Bakersfield, but he has a 1.14 ERA in 23 2/3 innings.
It as 19 years ago Sunday — April 24, 1989 — that rookie outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. became the same play in history to have a candy bar named after him after signing a contract with the Pacific Trading Cards Company.
Griffey joined outfielder Reggie Jackson in that distinction.
While more than a million chocolate bars bearing Griffey’s image are sold, he can’t enjoy the product. Griffey is allergic to chocolate.
Nelson Cruz’s two-run homer Friday in the 10th inning was is 16th homer in extra innings since the start of the 2014 season. That’s the most in the majors over that span…the Mariners’ pinch-hitters are batting .364 (8-for-22) after going 1-for-2 in Saturday’s loss.
The Mariners conclude their three-city trip at 12:35 p.m. Sunday when they face at the Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Lefty Wade Miley (0-2 with an 8.04 ERA) will take his fourth shot at getting his first victory as a Mariner when he faces Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker (1-2, 4.70).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners open a six-game homestand Monday with the first of three games against Houston at Safeco Field. After an open date Thursday, they play three weekend games against Kansas City.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
MARINERS CAREER STRIKEOUTS
Felix Hernandez: 2,166
Randy Johnson: 2,162
Jamie Moyer: 1,239
Mark Langston: 1,078
Mike Moore: 937
HERNANDEZ STRIKEOUT FACTS
(Courtesy of Gary Hill)
Most strikeouts (team)
Los Angeles Angels: 305
Texas Rangers: 279
Oakland Athletics: 272
Strikeouts against current teammates
Nelson Cruz: 17
Chris Iannetta: 11
Adam Lind: 9
Robinson Cano: 7
Seth Smith: 7
Leonys Martin: 5
Franklin Gutierrez: 2
Hitters who struck out the most against Hernandez
Torii Hunter: 22
Curtis Granderson: 21
Josh Hamilton: 21
Mike Trout: 21
David Murphy: 20
Most strikeouts caught when Hernandez pitches
Kenji Johjima: 406
Mike Zunino: 401
Rob Johnson: 400