Moyer leaves, taking Mariners' hopes with him View from Seattle

October 03, 1997

Here's a sampling of what Seattle columnists are writing about the Orioles-Mariners series:

From Steve Kelley, Seattle Times:

Jamie Moyer was masterfully mixing his pitches. Slow, slower, slowest. Low, lower, lowest. He was on top of it this day as he's been on top of it all season.

The arm speed was the same on every pitch, but the velocity kept changing, one of those tricks of physics the best pitchers master.

Like the good running back who never gives a defender a clean shot at a tackle, Moyer was finessing the Orioles into fits.

The crowd was getting louder. The Mariners' momentum was building. It was the fifth inning, Seattle held a 2-1 lead and it was beginning to feel like the playoffs again inside the Kingdome.

But manager Lou Piniella saw something troubling. He signaled to home-plate umpire Dale Ford and slowly made his way to the mound. Moyer had strained his pitching elbow. Piniella was forced to go to the bullpen.

Moyer left to a nervous standing ovation. He took the game, and probably the season, with him.

He turned it over to the pen, and every anxious pair of applauding hands knew what was coming. They had seen this train wreck.

Such is the story of this bad-news postseason.

Two years ago, there always was a lift. A defensive play breathed life into the offense, which strung together enough hits to take a lead.

The Mariners put constant heat on the New York Yankees. They were aggressive, opportunistic, relentless, magical.

That deep fly ball Baltimore's Roberto Alomar hit to center field off Paul Spoljaric in the fifth? Two years ago, Ken Griffey Jr.

probably would have made the spectacular leaping catch against the wall.

This year Griffey got to it, timed his leap perfectly, but the ball bounced out of his glove.

The tale of two seasons.

This year, in these playoffs, there is no momentum. There isn't a reliever who comes in to silence a rally. There isn't a runner who hustles a single into a double. There isn't a big, bust-the-dam base hit.

This year, when the Mariners need a hit, they get an out. When they need a rally, they go three-up, three-down. When they get a lift, they follow it with a fall.

This city hasn't had a series this sobering since the Sonics lost to the Lakers in 1994.

"We got down in the seventh innings of both games, and at that point, with their bullpen, the horse is out of the barn," Lee Elia said.

This isn't the great team you expected in March. The problems the Mariners took with them from Arizona are the problems they're having now.

They don't manufacture runs. They don't get two-out hits. And they die when the game is turned over to their bullpen.

This loss had such a sense of finality to it, Griffey was clearing out his locker afterward, packing a season's worth of flotsam into a large metal trunk.

He cautioned not to read anything into it, but it was another curious scene from this curious 48 hours.

"You never know who's going to be in here after we're gone," Griffey said. "I don't want anything to be missing when I get back."

The only thing missing will be an American League pennant.

* From Blaine Newnham, Seattle Times:

It will be the most important start of his career.

If only he gets to make it. Randy Johnson needs a second chance as much as the Mariners do.

"I want to get back out there as soon as I can and redeem myself," he said after the shocking 9-3 setback to the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of American League Division Series Wednesday.

For the largest crowd to watch a baseball game in Kingdome history, 59,579, the results were numbing.

Ken Griffey Jr. didn't get a ball out of the infield. Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric, roughed up in relief, made you long once again for Jose Cruz Jr.

But the worst was the unthinkable ineffectiveness of Johnson. ,, Major advantage Orioles.

Johnson was as upbeat as he could be. He knows he can't let this Baltimore thing be the end of him and the season.

"My biggest downfall was walking some guys," he said. "If I have to look at anything, I need better control and throw strikes."

Cal Ripken smiled. "If Randy has both velocity and control, you mail the results in," he said. Ripken thought the defeat of Johnson had as much to do with Mussina's ability to hold the Mariners in check as anything else. The rematch could be Sunday. Johnson needs to end the Oriole hex.

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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