By KIRBY ARNOLD
NEW YORK – Game 6 of the American League Championship Series is hours away, yet Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella already has called for a left-hander.
Several of them, in fact.
With the Mariners facing elimination tonight at Yankee Stadium against one of baseball’s toughest right-handed pitchers, Piniella says he will load his batting order with left-handed hitters.
“We are going to put just about every available left-hander in there and take our chances,” Piniella said. “Hernandez has never been beaten in the postseason. We realize it. But we’re going to stack up our lineup left-handed and make it as tough on him as possible.”
Piniella didn’t say who would start, but it’s safe to assume a batting order of Stan Javier (switch hitter) in right field, Mike Cameron (right-handed) in center, Alex Rodriguez (right) at shortstop, John Olerud (left) at first base, Edgar Martinez (right) at designated hitter, Al Martin (left) in left field, Joe Oliver (right) at catcher, Carlos Guillen (switch) at third base and Mark McLemore (switch) at second.
The left-handed lineup would leave right-handed hitters Rickey Henderson, Jay Buhner and David Bell on the bench. Also, Oliver couldn’t start Sunday because of a sore leg and may yield to Dan Wilson (a right-hander) tonight.
With that lineup, Piniella’s only left-hander on the bench would be outfielder Raul Ibanez.
Closer Kazuhiro Sasaki walked one, hit one and gave up a hit in his 1 2/3 innings.
A case of two pitchers trying to be too fine against a dangerous Yankee lineup?
Pitching coach Bryan Price says no.
“I don’t think either one of them were just missing off the corners,” Price said. “There were some balls up and away, a couple of breaking balls that Arthur threw and some splits that Kaz threw. Maybe it was a little bit more adrenaline. They weren’t in the best location, and it may have been because of their physical effort. Sometimes that gets you in trouble.”
Neither pitcher allowed a run, and that’s all Price wants at this point in the season.
“I thought they both recovered well,” he said. “It could have been cleaner, but in the end they got to shake hands and celebrate a victory.”