M’s send hot Aaron Sele against Chicago’s James Baldwin, who has shoulder problems
By KIRBY ARNOLD
SEATTLE — The Chicago White Sox will send a pitcher to the mound with the following advice: Despite any severe pain you might feel, you can’t do any more damage to your right shoulder.
The Seattle Mariners will send a starter who ranked third in the American League this season with 17 victories, and whose 4-0 record in September made him one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
Is anybody thinking about another champagne shower?
A perfectly sound Aaron Sele (17-10, 4.51 earned run average) will start for the Mariners today against the White Sox’s ailing James Baldwin (14-7, 4.65) in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Safeco Field.
A victory by the Mariners would clinch the best-of-five series. They won the first two games in Chicago.
Baldwin went from one of the league’s premier pitchers early this season to a casualty of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. He won 11 of his 14 games before the All-Star break, then suffered so much in the second half that he didn’t pitch most of September.
When Baldwin did come back, it was far from impressive. The Royals crushed him for five runs on six hits over three innings in the regular-season finale on Sunday.
"He’ll probably be pitching with some pain, but from the way I understand it he cannot damage the shoulder any further," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. "It’s a matter of him dealing with the discomfort."
"I’m going to go out there and got it all I’ve got," said Baldwin, who beat the Mariners 2-1 at Safeco Field on May 30, dominating the Mariners on four hits through seven innings. "It might be four innings or it might be nine innings."
The Mariners believe they couldn’t be in better hands with Sele.
"Aaron has pitched as well as anybody we’ve had the whole month of September," manager Lou Piniella said. "We feel good about sending him out there."
Sele, who has watched the White Sox wobble to a .209 team batting average in the first two games, knows a 2-0 margin is no reason for him to relax.
"They are going to come out and throw everything they have at us," he said. "They were the best team in the American League all year long. You’ve got to go out there and pitch them tough.
"There’s no change in the approach. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, and stay within your game plan. For the most part, that’s been successful for me."
After putting off the decision most of the week, the Mariners said that left-hander John Halama will start Saturday if there is a Game 4.
The M’s had said either Halama or veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer would start the game, but they didn’t make a commitment until Thursday.
The decision, essentially, came down to who was the hot pitcher.
"Halama has been pitching well lately," pitching coach Bryan Price said.
Halama (14-9, 5.08 ERA) has won his last three starts while Moyer (13-10, 5.49) is 0-1 in his last two starts, including a 1 2/3-inning no-decision on Sept. 28. In the final two months of the season, Moyer is 2-7 with two no-decisions.
Moyer took the news, uh, well …
"He wants to pitch," Price said.
Price said both left-handers probably would play key roles in the rotation if the Mariners advance to the next round against the A’s or Yankees.
Besides the moment that you could hear 45,000 jaws drop when Edgar Martinez hit his 10th-inning home run in Game 1, the fans at Comiskey Park in Chicago were festive, intimidating and just plain robust.
Mariners pitcher Paul Abbott, the victim of their jeers in Game 2 on Wednesday, loved it.
"It couldn’t have been any more fun," Abbott said. "Playing on the road in front of 45,000 screaming fans, they’re not going to make it easy for you. For me, that was a blast."
Deafening crowd noise at Comiskey? That’s a rarity for a club that rarely played to a full house in the regular season. Abbott had a theory.
"They were all Cubs fans," he said.
Rickey Henderson, who jammed his left index finger sliding into third base Wednesday, took batting and fielding practice Thursday with no problems. Whether he’s in the starting lineup, however, is uncertain.
"I have not made up my mind on what we are going to do for our lineup," Piniella said. "If we need him to play, I think he’ll be available."
Piniella is convinced the Mariners will play with a sense of urgency today despite their 2-0 series lead.
"We have not been complacent all year," he said. "We have not had that luxury and we still don’t."
One motivating factor could be a few days off. The next series won’t start until Tuesday in either Oakland or New York.
"We could use some rest," Piniella said.
White Sox manager Jerry Manuel on how he feels entering what could be the final game of his season:
"I guess I’m on a respirator," he said. "I feel like that. It has been a good season. It’s just that the second season, things haven’t gone our way.
"I would obviously be somewhat empty, but at the same time I think I would have enough satisfaction that I could live through the winter."
Four members of the Tacoma Rainiers who played on the gold medal-winning USA Olympic baseball team will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before today’s game. They are pitchers Ryan Franklin and Todd Williams, and outfielders Mike Neill and Reggie Sanders.
Seattle native Ann Wilson, singer with the former rock group Heart, will sing the National Anthem.
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