Never mind the roster switch. If there was one move it seemed like Seattle manager Lou Piniella had to make, it was benching Mike Blowers.
Seattle’s power-hitting third baseman has been in a dismal slump since getting sick on an August road trip to Boston and losing “a bunch of pounds.” From Sept. 1 on, he hit just .226 with four homers and 12 RBIs and in the five-game Division Series against New York, he had just three feeble singles in 18 at-bats, a .167 average.
Instead, Piniella moved him from ninth in the order back to seventh - and Blowers responded with a two-run home run in the third inning over the wall in center field that propelled the M’s to a 3-2 victory over Dennis Martinez and the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the A.L. Championship Series at the Kingdome.
“I was fortunate that Jay (Buhner) took a lot of pitches (the previous at-bat),” said Blowers. “I was able to get (Martinez’s) timing down.”
But mostly, Blowers owes a debt to Jack McDowell.
The Yankee righthander struck out Blowers - looking - with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the Division Series, and that may have been the catalyst for Tuesday’s home run.
“I didn’t want to have to think about that at-bat all year long,” Blowers said, “but that got me going. In bases-loaded situations the past three years, I think I’ve been as good as anybody in baseball. But that time, I took a first-pitch fastball, which I never do. I fouled off the next pitch which might have been a ball and then I took another fastball. That’s not me. I just kicked myself in the pants and got myself going again.”
Blowers got one more chance at McDowell in the 10th inning of that game and hit an infield single.
“You can practice all you want and watch video and do the drills, but sometimes you just need that one at-bat where something clicks,” he said. “Even though I didn’t hit that ball hard … it felt like I got the head out in front of a fastball. I’d been swinging late because I was trying to be too patient.”
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