Easy as pie: J.J. Putz earns save vs. Orioles
A Mariners reliever Tuesday turned in a performance of rare skill and remarkable trickery. That was Mark Lowe, who crouched stealthily for...
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Mariners reliever Tuesday turned in a performance of rare skill and remarkable trickery.
That was Mark Lowe, who crouched stealthily for five minutes in the back of J.J. Putz's locker, hiding behind hanging clothes, just waiting for the right opportunity to burst out and nail Putz with a shaving-cream pie.
The decisive moment came with a large media contingent around Putz as he described his first save since opening day, this one preserving a thrilling 4-2 Mariners win over the Orioles at Safeco Field.
Jose Vidro's two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the eighth off hard-luck loser Jeremy Guthrie was the decisive hit, breaking a 2-2 tie.
Putz, who hadn't pitched since going on the disabled list with a rib injury after the Mariners' second game of the season, gave up a leadoff double to Aubrey Huff in the ninth. But struck out the next two and got a weak ground out to end it.
"I felt great, but I felt nervous, I'll tell you that," Putz said. "I had butterflies the whole time. I ... "
That's as far as he got. Lowe's sudden emergence from the locker stunned not only Putz but the media, who somehow didn't notice his presence.
"Welcome back, big guy!" Lowe exclaimed as he delivered the pie.
"That was awesome," said Putz, who is usually the purveyor of pie slams.
The successful return of Putz was one of several positive developments on the night for the Mariners, who had been swept in four games by the Orioles in Baltimore.
Felix Hernandez, despite battling flu symptoms and early command problems, worked seven quality innings. He gave up six hits and two runs, striking out seven and walking three.
Hernandez said he had been sick for several days and was experiencing dizziness, headaches and fatigue.
"I tried to relax," he said. "When I went fast, I got tired and I couldn't breathe. I just told myself to take my time and make good pitches. I had to figure out how to throw strikes."
Arthur Rhodes, who worked a scoreless eighth, picked up his first victory since May 23, 2005, while with Cleveland.
"I don't remember back that far," said a smiling Rhodes, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery. "It felt great, coming back and getting my first win. I'm happy."
Some aggressive baserunning by Yuniesky Betancourt peppered the victory. He led off the eighth with a hustle double on a line drive to right-center.
But when Ichiro fouled out and Jose Lopez flied out, the rally seemed in danger. The Orioles elected to walk Raul Ibanez intentionally, after which Guthrie walked Adrian Beltre unintentionally on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Orioles manager Dave Trembley left Guthrie in to face Vidro.
Vidro, hitting .200 after going hitless in three previous at-bats, drilled a 1-1 pitch into right field to bring home two runs.
The Mariners had broken a 1-1 tie with a startling reversal of fortune in the fifth inning.
With runners on first and second and one out, Ichiro hit a slow bounder to the left of the pitcher's mound. Guthrie grabbed the ball and sprinted toward third base, barely beating a sliding Kenji Johjima.
But the Orioles' exhilaration disappeared when catcher Ramon Hernandez tried a snap throw to first on the first pitch to the next hitter, Lopez. As Kevin Millar became entangled with Ichiro scurrying back to first, the throw skipped into right field.
Betancourt, the runner on second, ran through a stop sign by third-base coach Sam Perlozzo. Betancourt, however, scored easily to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.
Said Mariners manager John McLaren: "As long as you make it, that's all we care about. ... Luckily, it had a positive ending."
And so did the game for the Mariners, as Putz made his return.
"What can I say? It's really nice to have the big boy back," McLaren said.
Shaving cream and all.
|Felix Hernandez has an 0-0 record to show for two impressive outings vs. the Orioles this month:|
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
Catcher Gregg Zaun retires after 16 seasons
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.