Take away his three worst starts - and they were the kind most any starting pitcher would love to forget - and Jeff Fassero figures his first 20 games with the Seattle Mariners have been about what he expected.
“I knew I’d have to adjust to hitters, to lineups, to strike zones,” said Fassero, who will make his 21st start of the year tonight in the Kingdome. “I’m still learning some of the hitters in the league. Some guys you figure how to get out after a game. Some guys obviously take you longer.”
Often a victim of non-support as the ace of the Montreal staff, it was largely assumed that Fassero would win big once he had an offensive team like the Mariners playing behind him. Instead, he’s won eight times.
“It hasn’t been because he’s pitched poorly,” manager Lou Piniella said. “He’s been everything we expected. He’s had some games we should have won and didn’t hold for him.”
Three times he’s pitched into the ninth inning and gotten no decision. Three other times, he has handed a lead to the Seattle bullpen - and watched it get away.
“I’ve had three starts that were terrible,” Fassero said. “And a few times I’ve been in close games where we were matched up against somebody’s No. 1 or 2 pitcher, and those guys can shut down any offense.
Among the pitchers Fassero has matched up with are David Cone, Roger Clemens and Chuck Finley - twice.
“What I’m happiest about this year is that we’re in first place,” Fassero said. “In Montreal, we were second or third. And this time of year, we’re talking about getting somebody before the trading deadline. In Montreal, we were always talking about who we were going to lose before the deadline.”
In the pregame clubhouse, players were joking about a revolt in which they would respectfully decline to play a minor-league all-star team Monday on their only scheduled off day in an 18-day span. Joey Cora suggested breaking the team into factions. “Alex (Rodriguez) will lead the Latinos, Jay (Buhner) can lead the white guys and (Ken Griffey) Junior can lead the black guys,” Cora said. Griffey broke up. “That means I lead - what - 2 percent of the team?” he asked… . Rodriguez was surprised by the reaction of A’s fans to each of Jose Canseco’s four at-bats Monday, when he was booed with passion. “After all he’s done in his career, after all he’s meant here, I don’t understand that,” Rodriguez said. Canseco is batting .241 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs.
Seattle opens a five game homestand with a two-game set against Minnesota in the Kingdome at 7:35 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports NW.
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