May 16, 2004 in Sports

Meche was ready to volunteer

Larry LaRue Tacoma News Tribune
 

NEW YORK – When the Mariners scored twice in the 13th inning Saturday, a strange figure began hurriedly warming up in the Seattle bullpen: Gil Meche.

Once Seattle tacked on six runs that inning, Meche sat back down and closer Eddie Guardado worked his second inning to finish it up. But if the Mariners hadn’t scored that inning, Meche – the starter who lasted just two-thirds of an inning a night earlier – was going into the game.

“He volunteered,” manager Bob Melvin said.

The Mariners were out of relievers by the 13th inning, with only Ron Villone left in the bullpen – and he’d pitched 3 2/3 innings Friday so he was off-limits.

So today’s starting pitcher, Joel Pineiro, was told to go from the dugout to the bullpen and start warming up. Meche interceded.

“I didn’t want Joel to lose a start because I didn’t do my job a night earlier,” Meche said. “I told them I wanted to pitch, and they sent me out to get loose.”

On Friday, Meche walked four consecutive Yankees to force in three first-inning runs in what became a 9-5 loss. He’d thrown 38 pitches, and having watched the video of each one of them, couldn’t wait to get back on the mound. That could happen as soon as today.

“If we need a long reliever (today) for any reason, it’s Meche,” Melvin said. “We’ve got a couple pitchers going on fumes now.”

Meche wants to pitch. He thinks he spotted a correctable problem. “I was pushing my pitches 3, 4 inches and missing the strike zone and I couldn’t figure out why,” Meche said. “Next time out, I’m going to put my plant foot on the rubber a few inches over. There’s no excuse for what I did, but I think there’s an answer.”

Notes

Ichiro Suzuki didn’t wait long to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games – he singled on the second pitch of the game. Ichiro’s career-best streak was a 23-gamer in 2001, but he’s had five of 15 games or more. During his current run, Ichiro has 26 hits. … Former Mariner Alex Rodriguez has reached base safely in each of the past 25 Yankees games. … For those wondering why Eddie Guardado pitched the eighth inning Friday with the Mariners behind, he needed the work. Prior to that 1-2-3 inning, he hadn’t pitched since May 7 – and has not had a save opportunity since May 6. … Raul Ibanez began the game 3 for 18 on this six-game trip, then doubled home Jolbert Cabrera in the second inning. Ibanez had three hits Saturday. … Dan Wilson’s six RBIs matched his career single-game high, first done on July 17, 1998. For the season, Wilson is batting .319 with two homers and a club-high 19 RBIs. … J.J. Putz pitched 11 1/3 innings in nine appearances without allowing a run.

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