Soaked in Seattle: Why no Poole?

SIDELIGHT

May 01, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- Different city, same inning, same hitter, same result, same question put to Orioles manager Johnny Oates.

Why didn't you bring in left-handed reliever Jim Poole to face Ken Griffey?

Oates had left-handed reliever Brad Pennington pitch to Griffey the first time, lefty starter Jamie Moyer the second time, Poole neither time.

Griffey and Jay Buhner hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning Friday night at the Kingdome, leading the Seattle Mariners past the Orioles, 5-4. Griffey's home run, off Moyer, traveled 442 feet and landed in the seats beyond the center field fence. Buhner's, hit off slumping Orioles reliever Alan Mills, went 421 feet to center.

Oates invoked the Eric Anthony defense in explaining why he kept Poole in the bullpen and allowed Moyer to face Griffey leading off the eighth.

"If you start the inning with Poole, you've got nothing to get the left-handed hitters out the rest of the way," Oates said. "If you bring in Poole for one batter, then bring in Mills to face Jay Buhner, how are you going to get Eric Anthony out when he pinch-hits for [Greg] Pirkl?"

That question hasn't been asked often of Anthony, a career .224 batter coming into this season. Griffey, on the other hand, hit 137 home runs, excluding the two he hit last week off the Orioles for a combined 880 feet.

Poole, the only lefty in the Orioles' bullpen since Pennington was demoted after serving Griffey's 438-foot, three-run home run last Sunday, had not appeared in a game since pitching later that inning.

Last Sunday, explaining his decision to go with Pennington, Oates said he did not want to overuse Poole, who had appeared seven times in nine games. Friday night, he said he didn't want to waste Poole on just one left-handed hitter.

"Moyer's the guy who should have been facing Griffey," said Oates. "As much as I messed up the other day, I did the right thing tonight."

Moyer took a 4-3 lead into the eighth, thanks to sixth-inning home runs by Rafael Palmeiro and Chris Hoiles. They were not enough to extend the Orioles' winning streak to five games.

Oates relied on his new favorite postgame tactic when asked about his decision to leave Moyer in the game to face Griffey. He asked reporters what they would have done.

Bring in Poole, two answered at separate times. Poole, who gave two homers in the eighth inning of last night's 6-4 win, is among those who would not mind seeing another left-hander in the bullpen.

"You only need another left-hander if you're going to have one you trust," Poole said. "In my opinion, if Brad Pennington is pitching to his physical capability, our bullpen will be balanced. Just like [Friday night]. It's a hard thing for Johnny to know when to pull the trigger on me. Johnny's managing tendencies are to wait a little longer. He doesn't want to be left empty-handed."

Poole wouldn't second-guess the manager. "Whether I agree is a moot point," he said. "Whether it frustrates me is a moot point."

Moyer made it seven consecutive games the Orioles starter has pitched into the eighth inning. Had he faced one fewer batter, he might have earned the win.

But Oates, in need of one more reliever effective at retiring left-handed hitters, decided to let Moyer pitch to Griffey. Moyer retired Griffey on a pop to short in the first, a swinging strikeout in the third and a double-play grounder in the fifth.

"That had nothing to do with it," Oates said of those three at-bats.

Said Moyer: "I was starting to get tired, but why not go face him and get him out? I got him out three times earlier. He's a good hitter, but who cares? The other eight guys are good hitters, too. It wasn't like I felt uncomfortable facing him."

Moyer, who has allowed eight home runs in 29 innings this season, caught too much of the plate with a cut fastball that was intended for the outside corner.

"It was a bad pitch, a bad pitch to a good hitter," Moyer said. "Not that I wouldn't throw it again, but I wouldn't want it in that location."

He pointed to an earlier mistake, a two-out walk to Tino Martinez in the fourth, as the biggest of the game. Bill Haselman and Felix Fermin followed with back-to-back doubles that gave the Mariners a 4-3 lead.

"I've said all along my job is to keep the club in the game and give them as many innings as possible, whether it's seven, eight or nine," said Moyer, who is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA.

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