October 2, 1997 in Sports

Randy Rocked, Orioles Roll Baltimore Rides Mussina Past M’S Orioles Send Johnson Packing After Five Innings On Way To 9-3 Triumph Game 1 Orioles 9, Mariners 3

Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune
 

Two batters and three pitches into the 1997 American League division series, Randy Johnson jumped ahead of Jeff Reboulet - no balls, two strikes - and a record Kingdome crowd of 59,579 stood and roared for a strikeout.

The ‘Big Unit’ delivered. The ‘dome rocked.

As October baseball returned to Seattle, it was a moment that reminded the Mariners and their fans that it doesn’t get better than this.

On Wednesday, it never did, and the Mariners lost the series opener to the Baltimore Orioles, 9-3 - falling behind 0-1 in the best-of-5 run toward the American League Championship Series.

For the Mariners, losing with their ace starting gutted their best-case scenario, which manager Lou Piniella outlined before the night began.

“Best case? Randy goes nine innings, we win and go get ‘em tomorrow,” Piniella said.

After Baltimore chased Johnson with five runs in five innings - then scored four more against reliever Mike Timlin in the sixth - the Mariners were asked if they had a Plan B.

“We’re still on Plan A,” Ken Griffey Jr. said. “Plan B is go home, and we’re not going home. This was one game, and it didn’t change our job. Whether we won or lost today, we were going to have to play well and play hard (today). Nothing has changed.”

Matched against Orioles ace Mike Mussina, the Mariners and Johnson kept that crowd in the game in the first four innings, though it was clear Johnson wasn’t at his dominant best.

After giving up a run on a walk and two hits in the third inning, Seattle got even in the fourth with the first of the Mariners’ three home runs, this one by Edgar Martinez. But Johnson couldn’t hold the Orioles there, Timlin stumbled badly and by the seventh inning - with Seattle trailing 9-2 - those fans began leaving.

“For whatever reason, that team seems to have Randy’s number,” catcher Dan Wilson said. “It wasn’t like they killed him. They had a couple of broken-bat singles, a big hopper off the turf. Luck wasn’t on our side, either.”

Said Jay Buhner: “Randy left it all on the field tonight, but sometimes it happens this way. They knocked him out in the fifth inning and just kept going. Good teams do that. We knew coming in they had three good starting pitchers and so did we. No one thought this was going to be easy.”

As Mussina blew through the Mariners’ order early, Johnson scrambled. Without his usual strikeout pitch, he got out of innings twice in the first four by getting ground-ball double plays. But in the fifth inning, his command deserted him.

He walked the Nos. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the Orioles’ lineup, and after Brady Anderson singled home the go-ahead run, the Orioles bunted the runners to second and third base. Eric Davis hit a high chopper that bounced over third baseman Mike Blowers’ head and down the line - a two-run single that made it 4-1.

“That was the difference. They got guys on base and got them in,” Buhner said.

Johnson got out of the fifth inning with his 100th pitch, after allowing a solo homer to Geronimo Berroa. It was 5-1, and Mussina was dealing.

Three solo home runs - by Martinez, Buhner and Alex Rodriguez - accounted for three of the five hits Mussina allowed in eight innings. None particularly bothered him. After the first, which tied the game, none of them was enough to help Seattle.

“Mussina threw well, he threw hard and had a great changeup and we never really got anything going against him,” Piniella said. “Randy didn’t have his command tonight, he was behind in the count all night.

“We’ll bring him back Sunday in Game 4 and give him the ball again,” Piniella said.

After Game 1, Norm Charlton - who pitched 1 shutout innings - was asked to put the loss in perspective.

“I’ve got more faith in our bullpen than almost anybody, but the best-case scenario in this series was for us to get three complete-game victories and go home,” Charlton said. “Randy’s the most dominant pitcher in the league. But he’s human. He got beat.

“So instead of beating them with Johnson, (Jamie) Moyer and (Jeff) Fassero, we have to beat them with Moyer, Fassero and Johnson.”

Griffey, who went 0 for 4 without hitting a ball out of the infield, insisted Seattle wasn’t hurt that badly by the loss.

“We had a one-game playoff once, in ‘95 against the Angels,” he said. “This is a five-game series. If it was a one-game playoff, that would be different. It isn’t. We beat them (today) and then we’ve got Fassero and Randy going back-to-back - that sound dire to you?”

Said Piniella: “The one thing this team has proven this season is that it’s resilient. No one gets here unless they’re able to bounce back after a loss. We can come right back, even this thing up and go from there.”

Orioles 9, Mariners 3

Baltimore AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

ByAnderson cf 5 1 2 1 0 0 .400

Reboulet 2b 2 0 0 0 0 1 .000

a-RAlomar ph-2b 1 1 0 0 1 0 .000

EDavis rf 3 0 1 2 0 2 .333

b-Surhoff ph-lf 2 0 1 2 0 0 .500

Berroa dh 5 1 1 1 0 0 .200

CRipken 3b 5 0 3 0 0 0 .600

Hoiles c 2 1 1 1 1 0 .500

Webster c 2 0 1 0 0 0 .500

Walton 1b 2 0 0 0 0 0 .000

RPalmeiro 1b 2 1 1 0 0 0 .500

Hammonds lf-rf 2 2 0 0 2 1 .000

Bordick ss 3 2 2 2 1 1 .667

Totals 36 9 13 9 5 5

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Cora 2b 4 0 1 0 0 0 .250

RKelly lf 4 0 1 0 0 1 .250

Griffey Jr cf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .000

EMartinez dh 4 1 1 1 0 0 .250

ARodriguez ss 4 1 2 1 0 2 .500

Buhner rf 3 1 1 1 1 2 .333

Sorrento 1b 4 0 1 0 0 2 .250

DaWilson c 3 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Blowers 3b 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000

c-Gates ph-3b 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Totals 33 3 7 3 1 11

Baltimore 001 044 000 9

Seattle 000 100 101 3

a-was intentionally walked for Reboulet in the 6th. b-doubled for Davis in the 6th. c-popped out for Blowers in the 8th.

E-Sorrento (1). LOB-Baltimore 6, Seattle 4. 2B-Surhoff (1), RPalmeiro (1), Bordick (1), RKelly (1), Sorrento (1). HR- ARodriguez (1) off ABenitez; Buhner (1) off Mussina; Hoiles (1) off Timlin; Berroa (1) off RaJohnson; EMartinez (1) off Mussina. RBIs-ByAnderson (1), EDavis 2 (2), Surhoff 2 (2), Berroa (1), Hoiles (1), Bordick 2 (2), EMartinez (1), ARodriguez (1), Buhner (1). SB-ByAnderson (1), Hammonds (1). CS-EDavis (1). S-Reboulet. GIDP-Hoiles, Walton, RKelly.

Runners left in scoring position-Baltimore 3 (EDavis 2, Berroa); Seattle 2 (EMartinez, DaWilson).

Runners moved up-ByAnderson.

DP-Baltimore 1 (Bordick and RPalmeiro); Seattle 2 (ARodriguez and Sorrento), (Blowers, Cora and Sorrento).

Baltimore IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Mussina W,1-0 7 5 2 2 0 9 93 2.57

Orosco 1 1 0 0 0 0 8 0.00

ABenitez 1 1 1 1 1 2 20 9.00

Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

RaJohnson L,0-1 5 7 5 5 4 3 100 9.00

Timlin 2/3 3 4 4 1 1 22 54.00

Spoljaric 1/3 1 0 0 0 0 13 0.00

BWells 1-1/3 1 0 0 0 1 21 0.00

Charlton 1-2/3 1 0 0 0 0 21 0.00

Inherited runners-scored-Spoljaric 2-2.

IBB-off Timlin (RAlomar) 1.

T-3:14. A-59,579 (59,084).

MEMO: Changed from Idaho edition.

Changed from Idaho edition.


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