SEATTLE – Thinking back to the key strikeouts, the standing ovation and the obligatory postgame beer shower from teammates, Michael Pineda grinned like a 22-year-old that just won his first major league game.
The way he pitched on Tuesday night was far from rookie-like.
Pineda dazzled in the first home start of his career, taking a shutout into the eighth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2.
Making just his second start, Pineda left the Blue Jays guessing all night. He was clocked as high as 99 mph on the stadium radar gun, but also worked in nasty off-speed pitches, including a biting slider that left some twisted – like Travis Snider – and others just looking.
“I’m excited,” Pineda said minutes after cleaning up from his beer shower. “It’s my first game winning here. I don’t know, I’m just really excited.”
Pineda (1-1) went 7 1/3 strong innings, giving up just five hits, one earned run and striking out seven. His performance only raises hopes for Mariners fans of what a future rotation could be with Felix Hernandez and Pineda at the top.
And on this homestand, it was Pineda getting the best of Hernandez, who was tagged for seven earned runs and 12 hits a night earlier by the Blue Jays. Not surprising, when Pineda was pulled in the eighth, it was Hernandez pulling him aside and chatting in his ear in the dugout.
Pineda threw 103 pitches with 74 strikes. He worked ahead constantly, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 29 batters he faced. Until the eighth inning, only once did Toronto get more than one runner on base in an inning.
“We had our chances to score on him but by the sixth inning he had so much confidence that it really didn’t matter,” said Toronto’s Adam Lind, who was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. “You could just see it, how confident he was out there.”
Pineda came out for the eighth having given up just three hits and retiring the previous eight batters after Edwin Encarnacion’s single in the fifth. Seattle manager Eric Wedge felt Pineda deserved the chance to get through the eighth.
Brandon League pitched the ninth for his second save in as many chances.
Ryan Langerhans hit a two-run homer in the third off Toronto starter Ricky Romero. Romero (1-1) retired 14 straight at one point and pitched into the eighth.
Mariners 3, Jays 2
|Toronto||000||000||020 – 2||5||1|
|Seattle||003||000||00x – 3||5||1|
E – J.Nix (1), Olivo (2). LOB – Toronto 4, Seattle 4. 2B – I.Suzuki (2). HR – Langerhans (3). RBIs – C.Patterson 2 (4), Bradley (4), Langerhans 2 (5). SB – C.Patterson (1), J.Wilson (4). RLSP – Toronto 1, Seattle 1. RMU – Olivo. DP – Toronto 1, Seattle 1.
IR-S – Ray 1-0. IBB – Bradley. PB – Olivo. T – 2:19. A – 15,500 (47,878).