Mariners 4, Rangers 3
“Getting the nod and saying you’re going to be the opening day starter is going to something great,” Pineiro said. “In the future, I would like to be known as the ace. But that’s in the future.”
Pineiro was a 16-game winner last season and started the season as No. 2 in the rotation. The 25-year-old right-hander wants to start for the Mariners on opening day 2005.
“I want to have that challenge and prove to them that I can be that guy,” he said. “I’m a guy who I don’t care who I’m facing or who’s up there hitting.”
Manager Bob Melvin and the Mariners’ front office have high expectations for Pineiro, who was a 12th-round draft pick by the Mariners in 1997.
“Freddy’s gone and we really count on Joel,” Melvin said. “We really need him to step up. We feel he’s a No. 1 guy waiting to happen. He’s pitching better and better.”
Texas beat the Mariners 8-5 on Monday night, when they hit five homers.
“The big difference from last night was they had Pineiro,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter. “They got a little better pitching performance.”
The last-place Mariners broke a seven-game losing streak against the Rangers, who lost for only second time in 11 games. Both defeats have been by one run.
Trailing 3-1, the Mariners went ahead with three runs in the sixth. Jolbert Cabrera doubled, went to third on Edgar Martinez’s single and scored on Bret Boone’s sacrifice fly. Then Aurilia homered 409 feet to left, his fourth home run of the season, off Joaquin Benoit (2-3).
It’s been a frustrating season for the Mariners and particularly Aurilia who was signed as a free agent by Seattle in January, the same day the team traded shortstop Carlos Guillen to Detroit. Guillen is having an All-Star-caliber season for the Tigers.
Aurilia is hitting .242 and had only 27 RBIs. He’s failed to provide the power numbers the Mariners expected from him. Aurilia had 37 homers and 97 RBIs, both career highs, with the San Francisco Giants in 2001.
The Mariners are believed to be trying to trade Aurilia to a contending team for the final half of the season.
“The season has been frustrating to all of us,” Aurilia said. “Not only just one of two guys. So it’s nice to get a win tonight and it’s nice to get a big hit. It would be a lot nicer if we were a little bit closer in the standings.”
Pineiro (4-8) pitched seven innings and gave up three runs—two earned—on five hits and two walks, tying a season-high nine strikeouts. He is 3-0 in four starts since a seven-game losing streak.
The Rangers scored five runs in six innings off Pineiro in Texas last Thursday in a game they won 9-7 in 18 innings. Pineiro had a no decision in that game.
“He looked a lot better today,” Rod Barajas of Texas said. “He used the sinker more than he did at our place. It seemed like he went out there with a plan and stuck to it.”
Texas got an unearned run in the fourth to go ahead 3-0 after David Dellucci reached first on an error by first baseman John Olerud. Olerud was jarred by third baseman Scott Spiezio when he attempted to catch Dellucci’s pop fly on the mound. Gary Matthews’ ground-rule double moved Dellucci to third and he scored on Barajas’ sacrifice fly.
The Mariners scored in the bottom of the first on Boone’s bloop single that scored Cabrera, who doubled and went to third on Barrjas’ passed ball.
Benoit pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk,with two strikeouts.
Olerud, who won the last two Gold Gloves at first, was charged with his first error of this season. … All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock of Texas, who homered twice Monday night, struck out swinging three times and went 0-for-4. … Young had his major league-leading 37th multihit game. He also leads the majors with 109 hits. … Barajas went 0-for-3 and had his career-high 12-game hitting streak end. It was the longest hitting streak by aRangers player this season.