MINNEAPOLIS – Michael Pineda flashed a wide smile as he spoke about the end of his rookie season for the Seattle Mariners.
His future appears just as bright as the look on his face.
Ichiro Suzuki stopped Kevin Slowey’s no-hitter with a two-out infield single in the sixth inning and added an RBI double in the seventh, spurring the Mariners to a 5-4 victory Wednesday in Minnesota, the 11th consecutive defeat for the Twins.
Pineda, in his final appearance, gave up six hits, two walks and two runs while striking out two over four innings. He threw 81 pitches. Manager Eric Wedge decided not to push him further on a cool night when he wasn’t at his best. Because the 22-year-old Dominican has never thrown more than 140 innings in a season, the Mariners didn’t want to give him another start next week.
So the right-hander finished 9-10 in 28 starts with 173 strikeouts and only 133 hits allowed over 171 innings. Only Mark Langston, with 204 in 1984, struck out more batters as a Mariners rookie in one season.
“I didn’t pitch a great game today, but I’m excited because I had a great year,” Pineda said.
He leads American League rookies in strikeouts, starts and opponent batting average.
“In April, I just thought I need to pitch a good game because I want to stay here. I didn’t want to go to the minor leagues again,” Pineda said. “Now I’m very, very proud of me because I finished strong.”
Pineda had four no-decisions and three defeats over his final seven starts, but that was largely because of a lack of run support.
“When you look up and see his numbers and see the consistency with which he’s pitched, as a rookie pitcher it’s pretty incredible stuff,” Wedge said.
Closer Brandon League, who escaped a ninth-inning, no-out, bases-loaded situation to preserve the win the night before, gave up a two-out RBI single to Trevor Plouffe before retiring Brian Dinkelman on a roller in front of the plate with two runners on.
“In the end, it’s black and white. League got it done,” Wedge said.
Trayvon Robinson’s two-run, two-out single in the seventh inning gave the Mariners the lead.