Tough to win hitting .164

  • Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Friday, October 19, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Kirby Arnold

Herald Writer

NEW YORK — The number that scares the Seattle Mariners isn’t 0-2.

Even though this is the American League Championship Series.

Even though it’s the New York Yankees who lead the series.

And even though the next three games are scheduled for Yankee Stadium.

The Mariners had their share of two-game losing streaks this year and found 116 reasons not to worry about them. Twelve times they lost two in a row and in the five games that followed, they went 5-0 twice and 4-1 five times.

Ticket update

If the Mariners can rally and force a Game 6 of the ALCS at Safeco Field on Wednesday, tickets would go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Ticketmaster outlets, Mariners Team Stores and Safeco Field. Tickets for a possible Game 7 on Thursday would go on sale at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Ticketmaster locations and Mariners Team Stores will use a random number distribution system to determine places in line. Numbered wristbands for Game 6 will be distributed at all ticket locations at noon today. Wristbands for Game 7 would be distributed at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Lines at Safeco Field will form on a first-come, first-served basis.

Approximately 16,000 tickets, priced at $85 and $65, would be available for Games 6 and 7.

So forget that 0-2 number for now.

It’s .164 — the team batting average in the ALCS — that means everything to the Mariners and their quest to escape New York this weekend with more baseball to play. Thursday’s 3-2 loss in Game 2 was particularly galling, given the offensive slump that continued and the number of scoring opportunities the Mariners wasted.

"We are capable of doing it," designated hitter Edgar Martinez said. "We always play hard and we’re going to continue to play hard. We’re not going to roll over and die."

There was no better indication of that than what happened in the moments after Thursday’s loss, when a disturbed manager Lou Piniella, on his way to an interview room, stopped and delivered an impromptu statement of faith to a group of reporters outside the Mariners’ clubhouse.

"We’re going to be back here to play Game 6," Piniella said emphatically. "Print it."

He has been in this position before and knows how things change in this game, even in October.

"I played on a good ballclub in New York that won 103 games and we beat the Dodgers the first two ballgames," Piniella said of the 1978 Yankees who faced Los Angeles in the World Series. "And they came back and beat us four in a row, so it can happen.

"You can start swinging the bat and get on a roll. It only takes one game."

That game needs to today, when the Mariners take their hacks at a pitcher who was tough on them this year.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez started once against the M’s and allowed just four hits and a run in a 2-1 Yankees victory on May 19 at Safeco Field.

"We know we can do it," said Martinez, who has a career .364 average against Hernandez. "The whole year we’ve been in situations when we’ve needed to win a series and the team played well. As long as we get the pitching that we’re getting and the defense we’ve been playing, we’re going to be in the games. That’s all that we can ask for.

"In games like we’re playing right now, anything can happen. It’s just that the last two games we haven’t been able to produce any runs."

The Mariners led the American League with a .288 team batting average and were first in seven other offensive categories, but they have been victimized in this series by solid Yankees pitching and their own missed swings.

John Olerud, Mark McLemore, David Bell, Jay Buhner and Carlos Guillen are a combined 0-for-24. The leading hitter is catcher Dan Wilson (.288), who began the postseason with a .050 career playoff batting average.

"You can’t post too many zeroes against good pitchers when you get opportunities," said center fielder Mike Cameron (1-for-5 in the series). "When you get a good pitch you’ve got to do something with it. If you don’t and the guy is throwing the way he is, it’s going to be very difficult.

"It basically comes down to scoring runs. How do you do it? Who knows, but we’ve got to find a way to get done. It’s been done before. If you don’t score any runs against the New York Yankees, you’re not going to win any ballgames, plain and simple."

Nobody discounts the impact Yankee pitchers Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera have had in holding the Mariners to four runs.

"We’ve got to have a hell of a road trip," Cameron said. "Starting (today) we’ve got some things to do because if we don’t, we’re going to be going home. It’s going to be a long road trip home if we don’t win a couple of games and try to bring them back with us."

A loss today won’t be the end, but it might seem that way with Roger Clemens scheduled to pitch against the Mariners on Sunday.

"We’ve got to put a win on the board to make this thing interesting," Cameron said. "You don’t want to go down 3-0 and go against Roger Clemens. They’re going to be coming at our throat. We’ve got to have a little gut check again and find a way to get it done in the Bronx zoo."

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