Spell revenge with A’s

  • Kirby Arnold / Inside the Clubhouse
  • Saturday, October 7, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – After they wiped the champagne from their eyes and had a clear view of the baseball world, the Seattle Mariners swore they didn’t care who they play this week in the American League Championship Series.

The company line was like this: “They’re both good clubs and whoever we face will be a challenge.”

Oakland or New York, it doesn’t really matter, the Mariners said.

Yeah, sure. And Lou Piniella really did give Mike Cameron a stock tip last Tuesday in Chicago.

Deep down, this team thirsts for Oakland.

They don’t just want Oakland, they want to pummel the A’s.

One of the Seattle coaches, asked who he wanted next, struck a fighter’s pose and said, “Oakland.”

The A’s embarrassed the Mariners in the regular season, winning nine of the 13 games. They won three of four last month in Seattle, a series that essentially cost the Mariners the American League West Division title.

Oakland sends a parade of powerful left-handers to the plate and pounds right-handed pitching into submission, including the Mariners’.

When the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte beat them on Wednesday, it was only Oakland’s second loss in a two-week period. Both came against left-handers, Pettitte and Seattle’s John Halama.

If it is Oakland, the Mariners could have their best chance to beat them now.

Because they clinched their division series early, the Mariners can set their pitching rotation the way they wish, with only right-hander Aaron Sele not available for Game 1 on Tuesday. Look for them to use Halama early in the series so they also can pitch him late.

The key could be left-hander Jamie Moyer. If he’s as healthy as he says, and if he can become the effective junk-baller he was early this season, the Mariners’ fortunes could be vastly different against the A’s.

When Moyer won eight of nine decisions early this season, he beat the A’s twice in a five-day period.

Halama has faced Oakland twice, getting a no-decision on May 12 and a 3-2 victory on Sept. 24.

The Moyer-Halama duo gave the Mariners three of their four victories in the regular season against Oakland. If Moyer is ready, don’t be surprised if he and Halama get the ball often.

And if it’s New York?

That’s a better matchup, with a more right-handed lineup that the Mariners have handled well. The M’s went 6-4 against New York this season – 3-1 at Yankee Stadium.

The Mariners know they can play with New York.

But deep down, they want Oakland.

When Alex Rodriguez moved Raul Ibanez to second with a bunt in the fourth inning Friday against the White Sox, he wasn’t thinking sacrifice.

“I was thinking that in a best-case scenario, we’d have runners on first and second with nobody out if I get a good bunt down,” he said. “In a worst-case scenario, I get the runner to second.”

Rodriguez pushed the bunt toward pitcher James Baldwin, who threw him out. Ibanez made it to second and scored on Stan Javier’s single.

It’s not just the vast outfield dimensions that make Safeco Field a better place for “small ball” tactics.

It’s a much better place to bunt, bench coach John McLaren says.

“It was very hard to bunt in the dome,” McLaren said. “The field was sloped and the ball would always roll foul.”

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