August 3, 1997 in Sports

M’S To Give Top Pitching Prospect His Shot

Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune
 

After a week in which more than a half-dozen teams inquired about the availability of 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Ken Cloude, the Seattle Mariners asked themselves a simple question.

If so many teams want Cloude, why isn’t he a Mariner?

Next Saturday, he will be - and he’ll start his first major-league game in the Kingdome against the Chicago White Sox.

Cloude is 11-6 with a 3.86 earned-run average with Class AA Memphis, and in 130-2/3 innings he’s walked 48 batters and struck out 122, throwing two shutouts and three complete games in 21 starts. Last year with Class A Lancaster, Cloude went 15-4 with a 4.22 ERA.

“We liked him in spring training and he’s improved since then,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. “We saw him pitch in that exhibition game in North Carolina at the beginning of this trip.”

That sat in the back of Piniella’s mind, and as teams began asking for Cloude as the trading deadline neared, Cloude kept pitching well - a complete-game, three-hit shutout Friday night.

That was the same night, coincidentally, that right-hander Bob Wolcott lasted 1-1/3 innings against Milwaukee. Saturday, Wolcott was optioned to Tacoma and switch-hitting outfielder Lee Tinsley as activated.

Next Saturday, when the Mariners next need their No. 5 starting pitcher, Cloude will be brought to the big leagues.

“Good fastball, good changeup, good breaking ball and command of all three,” Piniella said about the youngster. “He’s pitched well enough to get a chance, and we’re going to give him one.”

Notes

Alex Rodriguez is closing in on another club record, though this is one he’d rather pass on - errors in a season by a Seattle shortstop. In his first 94 games, Rodriguez had 20 errors. The club record is 29 by Craig Reynolds in 1978. … The Mariners finished July 13-13, and pitching cost them a winning month. In their 26 games, the Mariners staff ERA was 5.19 - up from the 3.68 ERA that helped them go 20-7 in June. … Ken Griffey Jr. got to 100 RBIs with a two-run home run in the second inning, the fifth time in his career he’s had as many as 100 RBIs. He also broke his own team record by reaching that plateau on Aug. 2, 14 days ahead of his old mark set last season. … Frightening stats of the day: After their first 108 games, Seattle starting pitchers had a 4.53 ERA - and the Mariners bullpen had a 6.20 ERA.

Coming up

Seattle concludes it’s 14-day trip with a 11:05 a.m. game in Milwaukee today that will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Randy Johnson (14-3, 2.40 ERA) vs. Jose Mercedes (4-6, 4.47).

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