Michael Pineda pitches Mariners to 4-0 victory against Oakland A's
Michael Pineda made a between-innings adjustment and was able to bulldog his way through four innings after that in a 4-0 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A's @ M's, 6:10 p.m., ROOT
The latest victory in what is becoming a triumphant April for Mariners rookie Michael Pineda came with some challenges attached.
There was the second inning Friday night during which Pineda walked the first two batters he faced and was soon in pitch-count trouble — even though he escaped the jam with his power arm. But Pineda made a between-innings adjustment and was able to bulldog his way through four innings after that in a 4-0 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Afterward, having notched his third win this month, Pineda talked about overcoming those troubles in the earliest in-game learning experience he has had to deal with so far.
"My mechanics were a little open in that inning, with my left shoulder," he said. "But I made an adjustment in the third inning. I stayed back and I threw the ball down."
And that was pretty much all he needed against an A's squad that again proved a mirror image of what the Mariners are offensively on nights they don't play Oakland. The Athletics couldn't put wood on the ball when they had to and watched their only real chance to get back in it die in the fifth inning, when Kevin Kouzmanoff was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Adam Kennedy.
Oakland did threaten the scoreless streak of Mariners reliever Jamey Wright in the ninth, loading the bases with one out. But Brandon League came on and got a double-play grounder from Conor Jackson to keep alive Wright's string of no runs allowed in spring training or his first nine outings in the regular season.
A crowd of 17,798 at Safeco Field shivered through an otherwise dull contest in which neither offense could do much. The A's have now failed to score in the first 18 innings of this series, and watched Pineda become the first Mariners rookie to open a career with four quality starts of at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or fewer allowed.
Pineda's six innings of five-hit ball also helped make him the first Mariners rookie to win three games in April since Freddy Garcia did it back in 1999.
Jack Wilson delivered the only run Pineda would need with a single in the second inning off A's pitcher Tyson Ross, a reliever making his first start of the season. Wilson also helped put the game away by launching a fifth-inning rally with another single.
Ross issued a one-out walk and was pulled. Jerry Blevins came on and walked the bases loaded, then issued a two-out walk to Jack Cust that forced a run home. Kennedy, who had hit home runs his last two games, followed with a single up the middle to bring two more home.
The A's had come close to tying it off Pineda a half-inning before, getting Kouzmanoff to third with only one out. But with the infield drawn in, Pineda got the grounder he needed.
Kennedy snared the ball and threw home. The throw was a bit high and Kouzmaoff thought he had the tag beat, but was called out.
Pineda threw 45 pitches his first two innings. But he needed just 52 more to get through the next four frames after the adjustment.
He notched five strikeouts — four in the first two innings — with help from a slider coming in a good 12 mph slower than his 96 mph fastball. Pineda said he thinks his slider is much improved from spring training, and that the handful of changeups he threw were better as well.
Wilson also looked better, getting in on some double plays in the seventh and ninth innings at second base. And his two hits were also a rarity for a bat that had gone cold since being benched for several games two weeks ago.
"It's just the timing, getting the timing back," Wilson said. "You just do the best you can in batting practice and the cages and try to get your timing back."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said postgame that he thinks Wilson has looked comfortable at second for longer than the player might have felt it. Wilson seemed to agree.
"I think I'm a huge perfectionist at everything I try to do," he said. "Especially at shortstop. I'd take a million ground balls. A million throws. So going over there (to second base), I was kind of hard on myself."
Wedge was hard on his players last weekend in Kansas City, demanding that they expect more of themselves. They've gone 4-2 since, though it helps when the other team can't score on your pitchers or defenders.
"He had to work early, but he worked through it," Wedge said of Pineda. "That's what we've talked about before in regards to handling situations, staying poised, making some adjustments and then working from there.
"He did a good job of getting his pitch count back online after that and gave us six innings. He did another fine job for us."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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