Second-game pitching focus is on finesse Moyer is off-speed master, Erickson sinker specialist

October 02, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Left-hander Jamie Moyer was a struggling spot starter with a seven-figure salary when the Orioles decided not to bring him back after the 1995 season. Now, he's a streaking 17-game winner with a chance to make a name for himself today.

Moyer is scheduled to face Orioles right-hander Scott Erickson in Game 2 of the best-of-five Division Series, a battle of former teammates that has huge ramifications for both clubs.

You remember Moyer. He showed up in Baltimore in 1993 with a sketchy reputation and a so-so fastball and proceeded to win 12 games in his first season with the Orioles. But his record fell to 5-7 in 1994 and his ERA rose to 5.21 in 1995 despite an 8-6 record, prompting the new Orioles front office to look elsewhere to bolster the starting rotation in '96.

There are no hard feelings.

"Whether I'm facing the Orioles or some other team, it's just another game," Moyer said. "I have fond memories of playing in Baltimore. I feel like I left the Orioles on good terms. There is no negative aspect. It was great being part of the [Cal] Ripken streak. Although I was just a teammate, it was great to be there."

Since then, Moyer is a combined 30-8, including 4-0 against the Orioles. He signed with the Boston Red Sox and started 7-1 last year before being traded to the Mariners, who have never had reason to regret the deal.

"Jamie is a competitive kid," said Mariners manager Lou Piniella. "He has had one whale of a season. He's not a power pitcher. He plays with hitters' timing. He locates the ball well. He's a pitcher."

He's also the diametric opposite of Game 1 starter Randy Johnson, who throws 97 mph. Moyer's fastball is in the mid-80s at best. It is not an accident that Piniella has him throwing right behind Johnson in the rotation.

"I like the contrast," Piniella said.

The Orioles counter with another hard-throwing right-hander, though Erickson is a far different pitcher from Game 1 starter Mike Mussina. He has above-average velocity but depends on a sinking fastball to put the ball in play and let the Orioles' solid defense keep the game in hand.

Erickson did not have his usual strong September, but he came back from a couple of mediocre performances to pitch well in his final two regular-season starts and should be comfortable in the raucous Kingdome.

He's a veteran of six seasons at Minnesota's Metrodome, which was the loudest place on earth when the Twins were fighting their way toward a World Series title in 1991. The Kingdome is loud, but it's not in the same league.

"You can block that out most times," Erickson said. "It's loud at Yankee Stadium, too. Usually, it gets loud because the other team is doing well. You can take the crowd out of it by pitching well."

New nemesis

Mariners starter Jamie Moyer is 4-0 with a 3.82 ERA against the Orioles since he left them after the 1995 season:

Date .. .. ..IP .. .. .H .. .. .ER .. .. .SO .. .. .Res.

4-18-96* .. .5 1/3 .. .. .9 .. .. ..4 .. .. ..2 .. .W, 10-7

7-19-96* .. .8 .. .. ..8 .. .. ..0 .. .. ..6 .. .W, 13-2

8-22-96 .. ..8 .. .. ..5 .. .. ..3 .. .. ..2 .. .W, 10-3

8-31-96 .. ..3 .. .. ..6 .. .. ..4 .. .. ..2 .. .. ...ND

5-9-97 .. ...6 1/3 .. .. .6 .. .. ..2 .. .. ..8 .. ..W, 8-2

8-6-97 .. ...6 .. .. ..6 .. .. ..2 .. .. ..4 .. .. ...ND

Totals .. ..30 2/3 .. ...34 .. .. .13 .. .. .20 .. .. ..4-0

* -- With Red Sox

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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