Cabrera submerges Mariners in 7-2 win

Orioles rookie shines in second straight start

Bigbie hits 2-run homer

May 19, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - The Orioles have a new starting pitcher who runs from the dugout before each inning and misses the foul line, in the old superstition, with a leap that looks like it should be measured for distance at the Olympics.

At 6 feet 7, Daniel Cabrera is all limbs, but he quickly channels that exuberance and turns into an unflappable force on the mound. When his work is finished, he returns to the dugout with a purposeful strut, pausing only to hop over the foul line again.

"I don't see a kid who's scared at all," said Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons. "He seems like a guy who's been in the big leagues for 10 years."

The Orioles saw it again last night in their 7-2 victory at Safeco Field, and as they watched in wonderment, the poor Seattle Mariners probably wanted to weep.

For the last-place Mariners, the whole night was a reminder of yesteryear. Before the game, the stadium's video board flashed the live telecast of former Seattle ace Randy Johnson finishing his perfect game against the Atlanta Braves.

Seattle, the franchise that could never seem to keep its best players, traded Johnson to the Houston Astros in 1998 for a package of three players that included a promising minor league pitcher named Freddy Garcia.

How time flies.

Now it's Garcia who could be nearing the end of his Mariners' rope. At 13-25, Seattle is expected to start unloading parts soon, and Garcia could be the first to go. He spoke openly about his desire to be traded to the New York Yankees last weekend.

So on a night the Orioles could enjoy watching Cabrera (2-0) hold the Mariners to two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, Seattle suffered again.

The Orioles jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, and Larry Bigbie made it 5-1 in the sixth, when he crushed a 417-foot home run off Garcia (1-3) into the center-field seats.

Bret Boone homered off Cabrera in the sixth, trimming the lead to three, but B.J. Ryan turned in 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and the Orioles pulled away with two runs in the ninth.

Safeco Field used to be a house of horrors for the Orioles. Since 1999, they are 5-21 here, but these aren't the same Mariners. The Orioles have won three of four meetings this season.

Even before the game, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said it wasn't a "make-or-break start" for Cabrera, who held the Chicago White Sox to two hits in six scoreless innings last Thursday for a 1-0 win in his first major league appearance.

Afterward, Mazzilli said, "He's in [the rotation indefinitely]. This kind of reinforces things, the way he's pitched these past two outings. For a guy who's coming out of Double-A, he's been impressive."

Cabrera will start Sunday's series finale at Anaheim before the Orioles decide anything. Matt Riley, who has been out with a sore left shoulder, is eligible to come off the disabled list next Tuesday, but Mazzilli said he's not sure when that move will get made.

Cabrera doesn't seem to let anything faze him. He has shown remarkable poise for someone who had never won a game above Single-A before beating the White Sox and someone who won't turn 23 until May 28.

"In my mind," Cabrera said, speaking in Spanish through translator Rudy Arias, "I'm going to pitch as good as I can so I can stay up here as long as I can."

Cabrera said he was taught as a youngster in the Dominican Republic to hustle to the mound before each inning "because you want to have an advantage and go out there and beat somebody."

Asked if he avoids the foul line out of superstition, Cabrera smiled but said, "No."

Leading 3-0 in the second inning, Cabrera grooved a 3-2 fastball that Raul Ibanez drilled into the right-field seats. But showing almost no emotion, Cabrera got right back on the mound and retired the next three batters.

He issued a leadoff walk to Rich Aurilia in the third inning, and three batters later, he had three outs.

After an error by shortstop Miguel Tejada with two outs in the fourth, Cabrera issued a four-pitch walk to Dan Wilson, but John Olerud fouled out to third, ending that threat.

"He seems [poised] with that personality he has," Mazzilli said. "He stayed within his plan. That's what you look at is the composure of a young kid. You don't know what you're going to get out of Double-A. You think you know what kind of pitcher he is, but you put him out there before 30,000 people, it's different."

Seattle fans, who cheered the end of Johnson's perfect game, can't be blamed for getting jaded. The Mariners were considered the favorites to land Tejada last offseason, before the Orioles trumped their five-year offer with a six-year, $72 million deal.

Tejada gave the Orioles' a first-inning lead when he hit a run-scoring double over center fielder Randy Winn. Bigbie had a run-scoring groundout in the second, and after Brian Roberts kept the inning alive with a seven-pitch walk, Melvin Mora hit an RBI single up the middle.

Mora, who led the American League in hitting entering the day, went 3-for-5, raising his average to .377.

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