SEATTLE – One year to the day since Adam Eaton experienced a humbling homecoming, he returned to the Safeco Field mound Sunday and showed his family, friends and, oh yeah, the Seattle Mariners, all he can be.
Eaton, a former Snohomish High School star, stopped the Mariners on three hits and a run in 61/3 innings of a 5-1 victory by the San Diego Padres.
With about 40 friends and family cheering for Eaton among the 43,649, he muffled the crowd and nearly silenced the Mariners’ offense.
The M’s managed just three hits, and Dan Wilson’s third-inning single was the only hit Eaton allowed until the seventh, when Seattle finally scored a run.
The victory was Eaton’s fourth in his past five outings, raising his record to 4-7 and lowering his earned-run average to 4.50. He has allowed two runs or less in his past five starts, with an ERA of 1.67 in that time.
A year ago on June 27, he lasted just 42/3 innings in an 8-2 loss to the Mariners.
“There were quite a few people from Snohomish, quite a few people I knew growing up,” Eaton said. “It was nice to pitch well in front of them. It was a nice show of support.”
Wilson had the Mariners’ first hit, a flare single to right field in the third, before Eaton retired 12 in a row. Eaton walked John Olerud and gave up a single to Edgar Martinez to start the bottom of the seventh before Jolbert Cabrera’s one-out single to center drove in the Mariners’ only run.
It also ended Eaton’s day after 104 pitches. Relievers Scott Linebrink and Blaine Neal worked the last 22/3 innings.
“I’d have liked to get through the seventh without them scoring any runs,” Eaton said. “But it was nice to get a lead and have some room to work with.”
That lead, a 3-0 cushion in the second inning, was provided by none other than the Mariners’ hitting flop of 2002 and 2003, Jeff Cirillo.
Cirillo, who hadn’t homered since May 30, 2003, hit Jamie Moyer’s first pitch to him over the Padres’ bullpen beyond the left-field fence with Phil Nevin and Jay Payton on base.
The Padres added single runs in the third and fourth innings, both unearned after errors by shortstop Willie Bloomquist and third baseman Scott Spiezio.
Moyer, back on the mound three days after he threw 57 pitches in the 18-inning game Thursday at Texas, worked a crisp first inning and then wobbled through the next four.
Mariners left-hander Matt Thornton, making his major league debut, pitched well the final four innings, allowing three hits and a walk with one strikeout.
That only kept the game from being a complete runaway, thanks to Eaton’s early silencing of the Mariners’ offense.
M’s manager Bob Melvin is a believer.
“His record isn’t indicative of the type pitcher he is,” said Melvin, who saw plenty of Eaton in the National League and is even more impressed now. “He has plus velocity, he’s got that short-armed delivery, he’s got a good breaking ball and he’s got a cutter that he’s throwing now.
“He was really good today.”