Opponent: Baltimore Orioles
When: 7:05 p.m. Friday, 7:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:35 p.m. Sunday
Where: Safeco Field
TV: KIRO (channel 7) Friday, FX (cable) Saturday, Fox Sports Net on Sunday
Radio: KIRO (710 AM) all three games
Pitchers: Friday _ Seattle right-hander Paul Abbott (14-3, 4.30 earned run average) vs. right-hander Jose Mercedes (7-16, 5.90). Saturday _ Right-hander Joel Pineiro (4-1, 2.08) vs. right-hander Rick Bauer (0-1, 1.42). Sunday _ Left-hander Jamie Moyer (16-5, 3.48) vs. right-hander Josh Towers (8-8, 4.20).
No sympathy for Paniagua: Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price wasn’t thrilled to hear of Jose Paniagua’s comments after the relief pitcher allowed six hits and five runs in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s loss.
Paniagua, who had pitched one other time in the previous 13 days, said he needs more work to be effective.
“I have no excuses,” Paniagua told reporters. “They hit the ball hard. The only thing is, I’d like more work. There are some pitchers who can take three or four days off and still feel good. I can’t. I need to pitch a lot.”
Price, often guarded when evaluating his pitchers for the media, didn’t hide his feelings this time.
“He can say whatever he wants, but that’s an illegitimate excuse for not performing,” Price said. “I think we’ve done a good job getting guys work. He missed nine days to a suspension and then a little problem with his shoulder, but I’m not too concerned with that.”
How Paniagua pitches in his next few outings could determine how much work he gets in October. The Mariners probably will carry 10 or 11 pitchers for the playoffs, meaning one or two from the current staff will be left off the roster.
Guillen’s injury “mild:” Shortstop Carlos Guillen, who sprained his left ankle on Tuesday, may miss only four games.
Trainer Rick Griffin said Guillen suffered a mild sprain when he stepped on the foot of first baseman Steve Cox on an infield single.
“There’s only a little fluid in there and he’s walking pain-free, which is good,” Griffin said. “The fact that he did the mobility tests and walked pain free are really good signs.”
Initially, the Mariners feared Guillen would miss a week to 10 days.
“If we can get him back by Monday, we’ll be happy,” manager Lou Piniella said.
Until then, he plans to use Mark McLemore at shortstop with Charles Gipson available as a backup.
The Mariners also will bring up Ramon Vazquez from their Class AAA team in Tacoma on Friday. Vazquez, who played with the Everett AquaSox in 1996, batted .300 in 127 games with the Rainiers with 10 home runs and 79 RBI.
“Being called up here is a reward for having a good season,” Piniella said.
That doesn’t mean Vazquez will get much playing time his first few days in Seattle, though.
“I’m going to play my veteran players until we get this thing clinched,” Piniella said.
Why pull Freddy? Tuesday night’s bullpen collapse left a lot of people wondering why starting pitcher Freddy Garcia didn’t get a chance to finish the game after he had allowed just three hits and a run in eight innings. He threw just 86 pitches to that point.
Pitching coach Bryan Price gave an explanation:
“If you make the decision to keep Freddy in the game, you have to decide that he gets to pitch the entire ninth inning. You’re not going to go to your closer, and now it becomes his ballgame completely.
“Starting pitchers don’t want to go out there and have a chance to leave one guy on base and potentially get a loss or a no-decision. They’d just as soon start the inning and run the table or not start the inning at all. There has to be some margin for error, and if you don’t let the guy face the potential go-ahead run then you’re kind of doing him a disservice. And if you let him face the potential go-ahead run you do him a disservice, too, for giving you eight great innings and then asking him to get the last three outs when you’ve got a guy down there whose job specifically is to get the last three outs in a save situation.”
That guy would be closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, who allowed the tying run in the ninth-inning before the Devil Rays scored six times in the 10th off Norm Charlton and Jose Paniagua.
“It was also important that Kaz gets himself back on a nice roll, and that had something to do with it also,” Price said. “We needed to get Kaz work.”
Kaz’s slump: Sasaki is struggling with his control and the results have been three blown saves in his last nine save chances.
“He’s getting those one-run save opportunities where there’s no margin for error and he’s still coming through most of the time,” Price said. “He’s just not in that groove where he can go out there and execute his pitches. What’s hurt him is his command. Just poor pitch execution. We’ve just got to keep running him back out there to get him on a roll again.”
Out of the booth: Play-by-play announcers Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs worked Wednesday night’s game from the grandstand.
Niehaus called the action from a camera well next to the Mariners’ dugout and Rizzs roamed the stands and worked from several locations around the stadium.
Besides the view from field level, Niehaus had to endure some mischief.
Pitcher Jamie Moyer and outfielder Stan Javier needled him in the first inning, and Javier blew a big bubble and stuck it atop the batting helmet Niehaus was wearing, unknown to the broadcaster. A producer sitting behind Niehaus removed it.