SEATTLE (AP)—Thinking back to the key strikeouts, the standing ovation and the obligatory postgame beer shower from teammates, Michael Pineda(notes) grinned like a 22-year-old that just won his first major league game.
The way he pitched on Tuesday night was far from rookie-like.
Making just his second start, Pineda left the Blue Jays guessing all night. He was clocked as high as 99 mph on the stadium radar gun, but also worked in nasty off-speed pitches, including a biting slider that left some twisted—like Travis Snider(notes)—and others just looking.
“I’m excited,” Pineda said minutes after cleaning up from his beer shower. “It’s my first game winning here. I don’t know, I’m just really excited.”
Pineda (1-1) went 7 1-3 strong innings, giving up just five hits, one earned run and striking out seven. His performance only raises hopes for Mariners fans of what a future rotation could be with Felix Hernandez(notes) and Pineda at the top.
And on this homestand, it was Pineda getting the best of Hernandez, who was tagged for seven earned runs and 12 hits a night earlier by the Blue Jays. Not surprising, when Pineda was pulled in the eighth, it was Hernandez pulling him aside and chatting in his ear in the dugout.
Pineda threw 103 pitches with 74 strikes. He worked ahead constantly, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 29 batters he faced. Until the eighth inning, only once did Toronto get more than one runner on base in an inning.
“We had our chances to score on him but by the sixth inning he had so much confidence that it really didn’t matter,” said Toronto’s Adam Lind(notes), who was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. “You could just see it, how confident he was out there.”
Pineda came out for the eighth having given up just three hits and retiring the previous eight batters after Edwin Encarnacion’s(notes) single in the fifth. Seattle manager Eric Wedge felt Pineda deserved the chance to get through the eighth.
But the Blue Jays changed those plans. Encarnacion started the eighth with a sharp single to left, and just as the Seattle bullpen started stirring, Pineda got Jayson Nix(notes) looking at a 97 mph fastball.
Then trouble arose. Yunel Escobar(notes) walked and after a passed ball from catcher Miguel Olivo(notes)—a pitch where Pineda said the sign got mixed up—Corey Patterson(notes) ended Pineda’s night with a sharp single to right that scored a pair.
Pineda left to a standing ovation as Chris Ray(notes) entered to face Jose Bautista(notes). Before Bautista could do anything, Olivo threw wildly to second as Patterson attempted to steal and advanced to third on the errant throw.
But Olivo got bailed out when Bautista popped out down the right field line. First baseman Justin Smoak(notes) made a difficult catch in foul territory with his back to home plate. He quickly spun and threw a one-hopper that Olivo caught on a short-hop and tagged Patterson trying to score the tying run.
Smoak said he didn’t think about letting the ball drop, even with the difficulty of the catch-and-throw, because it was Bautista at the plate.
“He can hit a homer anytime,” Smoak said. “It went up and I had a chance to catch it and I knew if I caught it, let it go. It happened to be on the money and was a good play.”
Ryan Langerhans(notes) hit a two-run homer in the third off Toronto starter Ricky Romero(notes), who was otherwise brilliant. Romero (1-1) retired 14 straight at one point and pitched into the eighth.
But this time the Mariners got their offense started earlier than a night before when they scored eight runs in the final three innings for a stunning 8-7 win over the Blue Jays.
Langerhans’ homer was his third of the season and he has only four hits overall in 19 at-bats to that point. Milton Bradley(notes) added an RBI single later in the inning, fighting off a tough 2-2 pitch to score Jack Wilson(notes).
NOTES: Escobar walked in the eighth and has reached base in all nine games he’s appeared in this season. … Injured Seattle closer David Aardsma(notes) threw a simulated inning of 25 pitches on Tuesday as he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery. Manager Eric Wedge said the plan is for Aardsma to go with the team on its four-game road trip to Kansas City and throw another simulated game before deciding on a rehab assignment. … Seattle’s rally on Monday night was the fifth time in club history they had overcome a deficit of seven or more runs. All the previous comebacks started in the fifth inning or sooner.