Unwinding after watching leads of 8-0, 10-7 and 13-10 all but float away in a 13-12 victory Sunday, Seattle manager Lou Piniella said the team kept it close with an eye toward statistics.
“We just wanted it to go down as a one-run victory on the road,” Piniella said.
He was joking. And a lot earlier in the day, in that same visiting clubhouse office, he had talked about one-run games without nearly as much brevity.
“We’ve had to score a lot of runs to win most of our games,” Piniella said, “and even then we haven’t had all that many easy ones. We’ve played 121 games now - and 35 of those have been decided by one run.”
In those games, the Mariners are 17-18. They are the contests teams and managers remember most.
“They come down to one hit, one play, one pitch,” Piniella said, “and somewhere in the game, there’s a play not made, a bad pitch, a hit you don’t get. We wouldn’t have to turn around too many of those 18 one-run losses to have a much better record, would we?”
If Piniella were inclined - and he’s not - he could wax indefinitely on this season’s 18 one-run losses.
Would they have won more of those games with Ken Griffey Jr. healthy? If they hadn’t lost Edgar Martinez for 22 games? If Randy Johnson had made more than eight starts this season?
“We’ve started a lot of young players this year and we’ll start some of them again before it’s over,” Piniella said. “Young players have to learn, and sometimes tough losses are their teachers. That’s why I don’t have the patience to manage a rebuilding team. The only part of this game I truly enjoy anymore is the winning.”
When the Mariners had beaten New York on Sunday, Piniella had at last drawn even for the year in onerun games. The Mariners are now 18-18 in such decisions.
Make Mark Whiten the 46th man to play left field alongside Griffey since 1989… . Martinez is on the brink of becoming the fifth major leaguer since 1900 to have back-toback seasons with 50 doubles of more. No one has done it since Joe Medwick in 1936… . Catcher Dan Wilson will rejoin the team tonight after joining his wife for the birth of their daughter Josephina… . Chris Widger goes back to Tacoma to make room for pitcher Matt Wagner.