Mariners 7, Pirates 0
SEATTLE (AP)—Jeff Weaver was mired in perhaps the worst stretch of his up-and-down career. So he decided to look at film.
While on the disabled list last month, smarting over an 0-6 record and 14.32 ERA as much as right shoulder tendinitis, Weaver viewed films of when he set a career high with 14 wins two years ago with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Weaver gave his former Dodgers manager—and all in Seattle who have been waiting impatiently—a show by throwing a startling four-hitter Wednesday night as the Mariners beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0 to end their six-game losing streak.
“I’ve seen him pitch games like that,” confirmed Jim Tracy, the former Dodgers manager now at the helm in Pittsburgh. Tracy saw Weaver’s last complete game, Sept. 17, 2005, and last shutout, five days before that.
But no one in Seattle had seen anything remotely close to this. Weaver entered the game scorned for eight winless starts and a 10.97 ERA that had actually improved by nearly four runs since he watched those old Dodgers tapes of him going 27-14 in 2004 and ’05.
“Ever since seeing that, it’s kind of clicked,” Weaver said. “It’s time to get it going.”
Weaver (1-6) became the first Seattle starter to win since June 3 by retiring 16 consecutive Pirates at one point. He used an array of spinners thrown from all arm angles, vintage stuff he features only when he’s feeling his best. It’s been shelved since last October.
He allowed a single to Jack Wilson leading off the third, and then picked him off. No Pirate got a hit against him until Ronny Paulino’s double with two outs in the eighth. Only two of the first 24 Pirates to bat against Weaver even saw ball three, let alone first base.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while—believe me,” he said.
By the eighth, the same home fans who were booing Weaver mercilessly last month gave him a standing ovation as the left field scoreboard beamed “DREAM WEAVER” in huge letters. He got another standing ovation when he took the mound for the ninth—and a third when he got Jason Bay to line out softly with two on to end the game.
This is what the Mariners expected when they signed St. Louis’ World Series hero to an $8,325,000, one-year contract before spring training.
“I don’t think anyone understands how much work went into him being able to turn the fans around for him like that,” an emotional manager Mike Hargrove said. “It was a real special thing that you don’t see very often.”
Hargrove was one of nearly two dozen Mariners who hugged Weaver and greeted him with big smiles on the field immediately after the game ended. It was proof of how popular Weaver has become with his new teammates.
“I had a big lump in my throat from the eighth inning on,” Hargrove said, his eyes moistening. “It’s good to see good things happen to good people.”
When Weaver threw just seven pitches—all strikes—during a perfect fourth, his ERA was under 10 for the first time at the end of an inning all year.
Weaver struck out a season-high five and walked two. In six starts against the AL, Weaver is 0-6 with a 14.32 ERA. In three starts against the NL, he is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA.
The Pirates were shut out for the seventh time this season, tying them for the National League lead with the San Francisco Giants.
Pittsburgh helped Seattle to a 2-0 lead in the second. Jose Bautista made a backhanded grab of Kenji Johjima’s hard grounder past third base off Paul Maholm (3-10). But Bautista’s throw across the infield sailed to the stands for a two-base error. Adrian Beltre then singled. Left fielder Bay’s throw home hit Johjima in the back and bounded away, allowing a run to score and Beltre to advance to third. Beltre scored on Richie Sexson’s infield hit.
In the third, Ichiro Suzuki hit a one-out single past the pitcher’s mound. He then stole second and third bases and scored on a groundout by Jose Lopez to make it 3-0. Johjima’s hard double—one of three hits—scored Raul Ibanez later in the inning to put Seattle up 4-0.
Sexson’s 12th homer, onto a stairwell far above the Pirates’ bullpen in left, gave Weaver a 5-0 lead. Ibanez later homered into a cafe in the second deck beyond right field to make it 7-0.
Maholm allowed six runs and nine hits in seven innings. He struck out two and walked one in losing for the sixth time in seven decisions.
“What can you do when the other guy throws a four-hit shutout?” Maholm said.
Two days after the Yankees said they were the first to sign players with approval of China’s baseball association, the Mariners announced they had signed Chinese infielder-outfielder Yu Bing Jia and catcher Wei Wang. … Seattle is going to start rookie Ryan Feierabend, the owner of that June 3 win, on Friday against Cincinnati instead of Cha Seung Baek.