Doug Fister shuts down Orioles, 8-2
Doug Fister took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Casey Kotchman homered and the Mariners beat Baltimore 8-2 before the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tuesday | vs. Baltimore, 7:10 p.m., FSN | Vargas (1-1, 5.56) vs. Hernandez (0-2, 4.91)
Wednesday | vs. Baltimore, 7:10 p.m., FSN | Hernandez (1-0, 3.10) vs. Millwood (0-2, 2.89)
Friday | @ Chicago White Sox, 5:10 p.m., FSN | Rowland-Smith (0-1, 4.50) vs. Floyd (0-2, 9.00)
Saturday | @ Chicago White Sox, 1:10 p.m., Ch. 13 | Snell (0-2, 5.14) vs. Garcia (0-2, 8.10)
Sunday | @ Chicago White Sox, 11:05 a.m., FSN | Fister (2-1, 1.42) vs. TBA.
Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins couldn't figure out why the Safeco Field crowd stood and cheered in the seventh inning after Nick Markakis' leadoff single.
Then he looked closer at the numbers posted on the scoreboard, and saw the "1" in the hit column for Baltimore. Ah, that explained it.
"I had no idea," Figgins said, shaking his head. "And it was the seventh inning. That's a long way to take a no-hitter. I should have dived."
Figgins actually had no chance to flag Markakis' sharp grounder up the middle. But that hit, and the two that followed in the seventh, did little to dim another brilliant performance by Doug Fister in Seattle's 8-2 victory.
"Just tremendous," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "It's amazing to me to see his composure for such a young guy."
The game was witnessed by the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history, 14,528 — more than a thousand below the previous low of 15,818 on May 6, 2008 against Texas.
About the only other down side for the Mariners as they reached .500 with their fifth win in six games was the groin tightness experienced by center fielder Franklin Gutierrez in the seventh inning.
Gutierrez visibly winced as he scored in the seventh on Casey Kotchman's double. Eric Byrnes replaced Gutierrez in the eighth. Gutierrez was 2 for 2 to raise his average to .426.
"He wanted to go back out," Wakamatsu said of Gutierrez. "He didn't seem to pull anything. We'll reevaluate (Tuesday)."
In Fister's last outing, the Mariners needed Milton Bradley's eighth-inning homer to break a tense, scoreless tie against Oakland.
On Monday, there was no such drama as the M's broke it open with a seven-run third, unless you count Fister's mounting bid for a no-hitter. He was trying to throw the first no-hitter by a Mariners pitcher since Chris Bosio against Boston on April 22, 1993 — 17 years ago Friday.
Markakis' clean hit — quickly erased by a nifty double play started by shortstop Jack Wilson — ended a string of 10 hitless innings by Fister. He finished his previous start by holding the A's hitless over his final four innings.
"Obviously, that's in the back of your mind," Fister said of the no-hit bid. "But not really. I was just trying to make pitch after pitch. Each one counts."
The Orioles broke Fister's scoreless streak at 14 innings in the seventh on a two-out, run-scoring double by Luke Scott. But it was another highly encouraging and hugely impressive outing by the 26-year-old Fister, who exited after seven having allowed three hits and just that one run. He walked one, hit one and struck out three while lowering his earned-run average to 1.42.
"It goes back to last year, that start against the Yankees, seeing something about a young kid that doesn't get rattled," Wakamatsu said. "And I go back to that first start (of 2010) at Oakland, when he threw 90 pitches (actually 96, lasting four innings in a 6-2 loss). Sometimes, that's a positive. He realized he was trying to be too fine."
Fister said that his subsequent gem against Oakland reminded him of the importance of keeping the ball down and pitching to contact.
"Our defense is tremendous," he said. "It gives the pitcher the utmost confidence. It would be foolish of me not to utilize that."
Asked if his velocity was up Monday, as it appeared, Fister replied, "I don't know. Location was the key to me, and that's what Rob (Johnson, his catcher) and I talked about."
After the Mariners scored seven to knock out Orioles starter Brad Bergesen, "I instantly said to myself, 'It's still a 0-0 ballgame,' " Fister said.
Casey Kotchman's two-run homer capped the seven-run third. Ken Griffey Jr. had a two-run single, though he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Bradley's double. Wilson, who stretched a double to start the rally, finished with three hits, including two doubles, while Kotchman drove in three.
Figgins had a big hand in preserving Fister's gem, backhanding Scott's liner in the fifth, and then ranging far to his left to spear Cesar Izturis' hard grounder in the sixth. Figgins spun and threw a one-hopper to Fister covering the bag to nail Izturis by half a step.
Left fielder Bradley made a nice running catch of a Markakis drive to the warning track in the seventh, and Ichiro made a shoestring grab of Matt Wieters' sinking liner to end the first.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the record
vs. AL West: 4-6
vs. L.A.: 0-0
vs. Oakland: 3-4
vs. Texas: 1-2
vs. AL East: 1-0
vs. AL Cent: 2-1
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 3-2
vs. RHP: 4-5
Extra inngs.: 0-1
Monday's crowd: 14,528
Season total: 196,490
Biggest crowd: 45,876 (April 12)
Smallest crowd: 14,528 (April 19)
Average (7 dates): 28,070
2009 average (7 dates): 28,696
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