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Seattle Mariners

Fister can’t find early-season form

M’s manager Don Wakamatsu pulls starting pitcher Doug Fister in the fifth inning.  (Associated Press)
M’s manager Don Wakamatsu pulls starting pitcher Doug Fister in the fifth inning. (Associated Press)

Tigers rough up Mariners starter in second game back from DL

DETROIT – Doug Fister’s evening started with what Seattle Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair felt was the best bullpen warmup session the second-year right-hander has had.

Perhaps too good.

“His stuff was so good that almost to a fault, it somewhat changed his style,” Adair observed. “He had enough stuff to get away from what he does.”

So far, the efficient and highly effective Fister who went on the disabled list after his May 31 start has yet to reappear.

Fister lost his second straight start since coming off the DL as the Tigers, behind a brilliant outing by Max Scherzer, defeated the Mariners 7-1 at Comerica Park.

When he went on the DL to rest his fatigued right shoulder, Fister led the American League with a 2.45 ERA. In his two starts since returning, he has given up nine runs in 8 2/3 innings for a 9.35 ERA. His overall ERA has risen to 3.22.

“Really, I just kind of got away from some of my strengths of commanding the baseball, and I got the ball up in the zone,” Fister said. ”It hurt me tonight.”

Meanwhile, Scherzer completely stymied the Mariners over eight superb innings, his longest outing this season. He allowed three hits, one of them a solo homer in the second inning by Franklin Gutierrez, his eighth.

Scherzer, who came into the game with a 4-6 record and a 5.26 ERA – plus a brief demotion to Triple-A – had struck out 14 in 5 2/3 innings in a May 30 game against Oakland. That’s the most strikeouts in major league history in less than six innings.

“I thought he was awfully tough,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “ He was 94 to 96 (mph) and efficient with his pitches. I thought his change-up was outstanding. It had kind of a splitter action. Other than Guti’s home run, we just couldn’t get anything going. In the first eight innings, we didn’t get anyone but Guti, on his trot, to second base.”

Scherzer came to the Tigers in the same blockbuster three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that yielded rookie center fielder Austin Jackson. It was Jackson who delivered a big two-out, two-run single off Fister in the second.

Fister could have had much better results if he had been able to get the third out a batter or two earlier in the two innings that haunted him.

In the second, he struck out Magglio Ordonez, but Brennan Boesch, another standout Tigers rookie, singled. After ex-Mariner Carlos Guillen grounded out, Brandon Inge got a swinging-bunt single and Alex Avila walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Fister was unable to get the out he needed. His first pitch to Don Kelly – ailing Miguel Cabrera’s replacement at first base – was ripped for a ground-rule double that brought in two runs. Fister’s next pitch resulted in Jackson’s two-run single to center.

Fister breezed through the third and fourth and got two quick outs in the fifth. But he walked Johnny Damon and gave up back-to-back singles to Ordonez and Boesch, leading to another run and Fister’s removal from the game.

“The pitch count hurt him quite a bit,” Wakamatsu said of Fister, who threw 99 pitches. “I thought he was up in the zone similar to his last outing. He’s just not quite feeling his release point. I thought there were stretches where he started using his change-up and breaking ball a little better and started to have better angle to his pitches. But the last two outings since his rehab, you really aren’t seeing the angle that you saw before.”

Damon added a two-run homer off Sean White in the seventh.