Jamie Moyer wishes there wasn’t so much focus on how well he’s been pitching this year. But when you’re the majors’ only 10-game winner and have won seven straight, it’s difficult to avoid the attention.
“I’m more excited about how our team is playing,” said the Seattle Mariners’ ace left-hander.
Moyer will try to keep up his dominance when the Mariners continue a three-game interleague series with the Atlanta Braves at Safeco Field in a matchup of the majors’ two top teams.
Moyer has blossomed with age, posting his first career 20-win season at 38 during the Mariners’ record-setting 2001 campaign when they won an AL-record 116 games. At 40, Moyer again appears headed for a career season, and Seattle is following suit.
In his last two starts, Moyer has allowed just six hits over 14 frames without allowing a single run. On Sunday, he yielded two hits over seven masterful innings as the Mariners blanked the New York Mets 7-0.
A master of changing speeds and hitting the corners and edges, Moyer does not does not blow hitters away. Instead, he baffles and frustrates them.
“I’ve seen him do it dozens of times,” admitted Mets manager Art Howe after Sunday’s performance.
Seattle took the series opener from Atlanta 2-1 to move into a tie with the Braves for the best record in the majors. Jeff Garcia pitched 7 2-3 strong innings as the Mariners won their second straight since opening a 10-game homestand with consecutive losses to Montreal.
The Braves had won seven of eight prior to Friday’s setback. Atlanta has not lost consecutive games since May 31-June 1 at New York.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Mike Hampton (2-3, 4.05 ERA). Hampton has not pitched since injuring his groin in the Braves’ 8-4 win over Texas on June 5. The left-hander allowed three unearned runs and two hits over 1 2-3 innings before pulling up lame while trying to field a sacrifice bunt. Hampton is 0-2 over his last five starts, and has not won since a 8-3 victory over San Francisco on May 11. Having begun his career in Seattle in 1993, Hampton has never faced his former club since being dealt to Houston in 1994.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Moyer (10-2, 2.93 ERA). Moyer has not lost since an 8-5 setback to the New York Yankees on April 30. He is 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA in five career appearances, including four starts, against the Braves.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .339 avg. and 54 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 58 runs and 11 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .333 avg. and 14 SBs; Bret Boone, 18 HRs, 51 RBIs and 53 runs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Braves - 5-2. Mariners - 7-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - OF Sheffield hasn’t had much trouble solving LHP Moyer during his career, going 6-for-9 with two homers and four walks. … The Braves won 13 of their previous 14 interleague games before Friday’s loss. … OF Andruw Jones has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, going 14-for-32 during that stretch. Mariners - 1B Greg Colbrunn is hitting .367 with three doubles and two RBIs in 30 career at-bats against LHP Hampton. … With closer Kazuhiro Sasaki on the disabled list, RHP Jeff Nelson has converted four of six save opportunities. … The Mariners have scored just 10 runs in their last six games at Safeco.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 20-12 on the road; Mariners - 19-13 at home.