May 30, 1996 in Sports

M’S Davis Atones In Ninth Third Baseman, A Fielding Goat, Becomes Batting Hero With Single

Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune
 

The starting pitcher gave up seven runs. The closer gave up one in the ninth - when a ground ball trickled between the legs of his third baseman.

And none of that was enough to beat the Mariners on Wednesday, when a Kingdome crowd of 20,253 watched Baltimore stake out a victory only to watch the Mariners steal it back, 9-8.

Ahead early, 4-0, Sterling Hitchcock continued the trend set by a shakey rotation when he couldn’t finish seven innings, couldn’t hold a lead and departed after 6 innings trailing, 7-4.

Riding a three-run seventh inning home run from Jay Buhner - his second of the game - the Mariners came back to tie, only to watch Davis’s error in the ninth inning push Baltimore ahead again, 8-7.

Over? Over?

Ken Griffey Jr. homered one out into the ninth inning to tie it again and with two outs and the bases loaded, Davis attoned for his error with a single off the wall in right-center field that drove home the game-winner and made a winner of reliever Norm Charlton.

Given time, the Mariners have proven they will score runs. The team that set a major-league record with 44 April home runs, Seattle has now hit more homers in its first 50 games - 89 - than any team in big-league history.

Two of those came against Orioles ace Mike Mussina in the first inning, on consecutive pitches, when Edgar Martinez and then Jay Buhner hit back-to-back home runs. When Buhner hit his second of the night and 18th of the season in the seventh inning, it was a three-run shot that tied the game at seven and left the right fielder with 51 RBI in his first 49 games played.

For all that, Seattle trailed by one run in the bottom of the ninth, when Griffey hit his 17th home run to forge the third tie of the night.

So a night after Seattle had scored eight times in a 12-8 loss, all seven runs did this time was let Hitchcock avoid a loss his pitching deserved.

Given the 3-0 lead those shots produced, Hitchcock rolled through the Baltmore lineup early and got into the fourth inning before allowing a runner to reach second base.

By then, he was ahead, 4-0, after Davis’ RBI single put an insurance run on the board in the third inning.

It wasn’t enough for Hitchcock. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Hitchcock gave up runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, while the fans grew restless and Piniella rubbed his eyes in the Mariners dugout.

Could he have gone to his bullpen earlier - before Hitchcock gave up his final two runs in the seventh inning? Of course. But when? The question is one Piniella has faced daily since injury robbed him of Cy Young Award winner Johnson.

Should he have replaced Hitchcock in the fourth inning, when the left-hander gave up a double, a walk and an RBI single, all with two out?

Should the move have been made in the fifth, when Hitchcock got a quick out, gave up a single to No. 9 hitter Bill Ripken and then a lighteningbolt home run to Brady Anderson that cut his lead to 4-3?

How about in the sixth inning, when Hitchcock walked Rafael Palmeiro, got a foul popup for one out and then allowed another thunderous home run to Cal Ripken Jr. - Ripken’s fourth in 24 hours?

Piniella waited until the seventh, trying to nurse innings from Hitchcock, trying to get deep into a game and stay close to the Orioles, who’d gone ahead, 5-4, on Ripken’s home run.

By the time he replaced his starting pitcher, 20 outs into the game, Baltimore had a 7-4 lead.

Poor managing? Without Johnson on the Mariners last eight-game road trip, Seattle starters averaged four innings a game. In the first four games since that trip, they’d averaged five.

“Someone has to give us innings or we’re going to kill the bullpen,” Piniella said before this one started. “You can’t consistently ask relievers to pitch four or five innings a night and expect them to be fresh when you need them.”

So Piniella watched his starting pitcher fall behind but stayed with him, went to his bullpen in the seventh inning, staying close if not ahead. It wasn’t easy to watch but, in the end, it gave Seattle the chance to win and saved the arms of a relief corps running close to empty.

Mariners 9, Orioles 8

Baltimore AB R H BI BB SO Avg. ByAndrsn cf 5 1 1 2 0 0 .320 Devereaux lf 4 1 0 0 1 1 .220 RAlomar 2b 5 1 2 1 0 0 .400 RPlmeiro 1b 3 2 2 0 2 0 .304 Bonilla dh 3 0 1 1 2 1 .235 CRipken ss 5 1 2 3 0 0 .263 Smith rf 3 0 0 0 0 0 .200 a-Plonia ph 0 0 0 0 1 0 .214 Hoiles c 4 0 0 0 0 2 .230 BRipken 3b 4 2 2 0 0 0 .250 Totals 36 8 10 7 6 4 Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Bragg lf 5 0 1 0 0 0 .284 ARodrigz ss 5 0 0 0 0 1 .364 Griffey Jr cf 4 3 2 1 1 2 .309 EMartinz dh 5 2 3 2 0 0 .354 Buhner rf 4 4 3 4 1 1 .313 Sorrento 1b 3 0 0 0 1 2 .288 c-BRHntr ph 1 0 1 0 0 0 .391 DWilson c 5 0 3 0 0 0 .276 RDavis 3b 4 0 2 2 0 1 .248 Cora 2b 3 0 0 0 0 1 .217 b-Sojo ph-2b 1 0 0 0 0 0 .241 Totals 40 9 15 9 3 8 Baltimore 000 122 201 - 8 10 1 Seattle 301 000 302 - 9 15 1 Two outs when winning run scored.

a-walked for Smith in the 8th. b-flied out for Cora in the 8th. c-singled for Sorrento in the 9th.

E-CRipken (6), RDavis (5). LOBBaltimore 7, Seattle 9. 2B-RPalmeiro (10), BRipken (4), Griffey Jr (9), EMartinez 2 (29). HR-Griffey Jr (17) off RMyers; EMartinez (12) off Mussina; Buhner 2 (18) off Mussina, RMcDowell; ByAnderson (20) off Hitchcock; CRipken (7) off Hitchcock. RBIsByAnderson 2 (37), RAlomar (40), Bonilla (27), CRipken 3 (33), Griffey Jr (41), EMartinez 2 (46), Buhner 4 (51), RDavis 2 (17). SB- RAlomar (8), Polonia (2). CS-RAlomar (2). S-RDavis. GIDPCRipken.

Runners left in scoring position-Baltimore 4 (ByAnderson, CRipken 2, Smith); Seattle 3 (Bragg, Sorrento, RDavis).

Runners moved up-Devereaux, BRipken, EMartinez, DWilson.

DP-Seattle 1 (Sojo, ARodriguez and Sorrento).

Baltimore IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Mussina 6-1/3 9 6 6 2 8 111 4.66 RMcDowell 2/3 1 1 1 0 0 6 2.48 Krivda 1 1 0 0 0 0 16 4.24 RMyers L, 0-1 2/3 4 2 2 1 0 24 3.12 Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Hitchcock 6-2/3 9 7 7 3 3 136 5.30 Carmona 1 1 0 0 1 1 18 3.33 Charlton W, 2-1 1-1/3 0 1 0 2 0 28 3.18 Inherited runners-scored-RMcDowell 2-2, Carmona 2-1, Charlton 1-0.

IBBoff RMyers (Buhner) 1. WP-Charlton.

T-3:34. A-20,253 (59,166).


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