M’s pen sharp; earrings are OK

  • Kirby Arnold and Rich Myhre / Herald Writers
  • Thursday, October 11, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Kirby Arnold and Rich Myhre

Herald Writers

SEATTLE — The bullpen sparkled and Arthur Rhodes’ earrings didn’t.

The Seattle Mariners avoided another fashion accessory controversy and nailed down a 5-1 victory Thursday, thanks greatly to relief pitching that completed the job that Jamie Moyer started.

Jeff Nelson escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh inning when he induced Marty Cordova into a double-play grounder that allowed the Indians’ only run to score. Einar Diaz hit a fly to center that ended the Indians’ threat and set the stage for:

Arthur Rhodes vs. Omar Vizquel.

The last two times Rhodes pitched against the Indians, in August, Vizquel complained about the glare off Rhodes’ diamond earrings and umpires made him remove the jewelry. The first time it happened, Rhodes and Vizquel nearly came to blows.

This time, there was no fuss. Just a fly out to right field by Vizquel.

"I told myself that if he was going to tell me to take my earrings out, I would take them out," Rhodes said. "I wanted to keep my composure. I didn’t want to get all mad and get thrown out of the game. He didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything, and it went smooth."

The same could be said of the entire Mariners relief effort, which followed the blueprint that made it successful all season.

Moyer pitched six scoreless innings before running into trouble when Ellis Burks and Jim Thome started the seventh with singles.

Nelson relieved Moyer and walked Travis Fryman to load the bases. On the bench, pitching coach Bryan Price remained confident that Nelson would find a way out of the jam.

He did by getting Cordova to hit into the double play.

"You need to have people that when they’re in there you anticipate their success rather than wondering if they’re going to be able to get it done," Price said. "He (Nelson) has gotten the big outs from the right-hand side all year. He makes the big pitch. There was the walk to load the bases with nobody out, but he gets a ball in far enough on Cordova to get the double play ball."

Kazuhiro Sasaki allowed a hit to Burks and struck out two in the ninth inning, including Fryman to end the game.

Surprise pitch: Before he struck out Fryman with a 95 mph fastball to end the game, Sasaki threw a rare pitch for him — a curveball — for strike two.

Sasaki has thrived with his fastball-forkball combination all season, but has worked on the curve throughout the year.

"He just had to pick the right times to throw it when he didn’t have to worry about getting hurt by it," Price said. "It gives a hitter one more thing to think about."

Who’ll start Game 5? Piniella still hasn’t decided whether he’ll use just three starting pitchers in this series, but Moyer’s low pitch count Thursday, 86 pitches, made him a viable option for a possible Game 5 Monday at Safeco Field.

"We wanted to keep his pitch count low, just in case he has to come back on three days rest on Monday," Piniella said.

If the series goes five games and Piniella chooses Moyer on Monday, it could leave right-hander Paul Abbott, who is 5-0 lifetime against the Indians, out of the rotation in this series.

Prized possession: Mike Cameron lovingly clutched the ball that he crushed for his first-inning home run after receiving it from a fan after the game. It cost him little in return.

"Just a bat," he said. "It just so happened that one of those great Seattle fans caught it, and they’re always appreciative with just a handshake. But I was able to give something back to them that they’ll be able to remember for a while.

And I got something pretty special for myself, too."

Radar readings: After starting pitchers Jamie Moyer and Chuck Finley soft-tossed in the mid-80 mph range, the heat turned on when the relievers hit the mound.

Paul Shuey followed Finley and uncorked a few 97 mph pitches, and Arthur Rhodes worked the eighth for the Mariners and hit 99 with his first pitch to Kenny Lofton.

Danys Baez worked the bottom of the eighth and whizzed a 101 mph dart past Bret Boone.

Getting back in shape: Carlos Guillen took infield practice with the Mariners before Thursday’s game after he was cleared to resume workouts as he recovers from tuberculosis.

Guillen, diagnosed with the disease on Sept. 28, was examined by a pulmonary specialist on Wednesday and given approval to begin a workout program.

"He looked better," manager Lou Piniella said. "He caught some ground balls and got a little tired. He wore down a little bit."

Guillen stayed behind as the Mariners flew to Cleveland after Thursday’s game.

"We’ve got some workouts written up for him for the next three days," trainer Rick Griffin said.

Because the disease has affected Guillen’s lungs, he must work his way back slowly.

"He’ll be doing some agilities and some real easy sprinting at the beginning," Griffin said.

Nice comeback: Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, who is writing a diary of his playoff experiences on the Mariners’ Web site, asked an MLB employee how many "hits" his last installment received from online readers.

It prompted one humorous response: "More than you got Tuesday off Colon."

To see the column, go to www.mariners.mlb.com.

Lucky man: Mariners pitcher Freddy Garcia couldn’t have been hit in a better place with a line drive than his right big toe.

The Indians’ Marty Cordova smacked Garcia in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game, but the ball struck the heavy rubber covering on the right shoe. It’s designed to protect the toe of the shoe as it drags the ground on a pitcher’s delivery, but it probably ended up saving Garcia from injury.

"It didn’t affect him at all," trainer Rick Griffin said. "If it hits his shin or his ankle, he wouldn’t be feeling so good."

Going home: While Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel got his start in the Seattle Mariners organization, Seattle’s David Bell is a Cleveland product. He played in the Indians’ minor-league system and briefly in the major leagues before being traded to St. Louis in 1995. Bell returned to Cleveland in 1998, then was traded to Seattle on Aug. 31, 1998, for Joey Cora.

His father, Colorado Rockies manager Buddy Bell, also spent several seasons with the Indians in his playing career. Given those ties, David Bell is expecting several family members to be in Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday.

"It’ll be nice to see whoever might show up there," he said, "but we’re not going to have a whole lot of time to spend with them. So I’ll see them at the end of the year."

The Indians, Bell added, "were always really good to me. They treated me great."

You never know: Mike Cameron’s first-inning home run was something of a surprise, given that it came on an 0-2 pitch. Usually, pitchers try to coax batters into chasing bad pitches, and hitters often shorten their swing to increase their chances of making contact while decreasing their power.

Seattle’s Bret Boone, for example, adjusts both his batting stance and approach whenever he has two strikes. "I’m just looking to get a ball and put it in play," he said. "I just want to protect the plate. So anytime I hit a two-strike home run, it’s the last thing I thought was going to happen."

Feeling better: Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel missed much of August and September because of a blocked colon that required surgery, and later an abdominal infection. The latter condition kept him hospitalized from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3. He returned in time for the regular season’s final few games.

"I feel good," Manuel said. "Matter of fact, I feel better than I did before I ever went in the hospital. Right now, I feel great."

Before his illness, Manuel enjoyed trading banter and physical horseplay with his players. Now, he said, "I think they see me as somebody that’s been sick. I think they’re waiting for the time when I can get back to where they can start playing with me again."

Seattle manager Lou Piniella calls Manuel "a good guy, and I’m glad to see that he’s healthy and enjoying this. But I hope he doesn’t get a chance to enjoy it too much over the next few games."

Another import: Manuel played in Japan from 1976 to 1981, hitting 189 home runs, including a Pacific League-best 48 homers in 1980 with the Kinetsu Buffaloes. In his time, he saw "some pretty good players" in Japan, and he also met people who would later tell him about a rising Japanese star, Ichiro Suzuki.

"They told me how good he is," Manuel said. "But he was not the kind of player I envisioned seeing until I saw him play this year. He’s a tremendous player. He’s probably the best leadoff hitter in our league."

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