2001 MLB Postseason - Indians vs. Mariners
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Helping hands

Mariners need more than their leadoff hitter in Game 2

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Posted: Wednesday October 10, 2001 8:42 PM
Updated: Wednesday October 10, 2001 11:00 PM
  Ichiro Suzuki Ichiro had three of the Mariners' six hits in the series opener. Otto Greule/Allsport

SEATTLE (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki was the only one who resembled his regular-season self in Seattle's first playoff game.

"The playoffs are such a short season," Suzuki said Wednesday through a translator. "As an individual, I like to get a good result as soon as possible. As a team, you like to get a groove as soon as possible."

His teammates couldn't find a way to help him against overpowering Bartolo Colon and the Cleveland Indians in a 5-0 Game 1 loss Tuesday in their best-of-five division series.

"Get him some help, how about finding a way to get us all some help?" shortstop Mark McLemore said.

The Mariners know unless they rediscover what got them here, it could be a long weekend in Cleveland, and this record-setting season could be on the brink of a premature ending.

The Mariners didn't hit, their top pitcher couldn't find his rhythm, they couldn't score with runners in position.

Suzuki had three of Seattle's six hits off a dominating Colon. He pitched eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, including three against John Olerud, who came into the series hitting .302.

But even Suzuki had his struggles, getting caught stealing for just the 15th time this season. He led the majors with 56 steals.

After hitting a single in his first at-bat, Suzuki became comfortable.

"I was relieved, and the rest of my at-bats I could play close to the normal feeling and mentality I had in the season," he said.

McLemore insists the Mariners aren't feeling any pressure after winning 116 games in the regular season. Seattle dropped the first game of a series 15 times and came back to win or tie in 10 of those.

"Why should I get concerned now?" McLemore said. "We've played all year, and we've bounced back all year. ... We don't worry about those things. We just play baseball."

The Mariners had only one losing streak of note when they dropped four straight on the road in September. Three were to the defending AL West champion Oakland Athletics, who owned the second-best record in baseball this year.

"I don't think anybody has lost any confidence in here," catcher Dan Wilson said. "Offensively, we need to create a little bit of a spark."

Left-hander Jamie Moyer, who won a career-high 20 wins this season, starts Game 2 for Seattle against Cleveland lefty Chuck Finley.

Moyer is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings against Cleveland this year after struggling against the Indians in recent seasons. Moyer knows the task at hand for Seattle, with Game 3 in Cleveland on Saturday, and if necessary, Game 4 on Sunday. A fifth game would be played back in Seattle on Monday.

"I think all the games are important, one through five," Moyer said.

Manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday he will start Jay Buhner in left field in place of Game 1 starter Stan Javier. That way he can use Javier, a switch-hitter, off the bench as a pinch-hitter, he said.

The Mariners have depended on Suzuki from day one -- his bat, his baserunning and his speed and glove in right field.

He had a bunt single in the eighth inning of his major league debut that helped give Seattle a 5-4 win over Oakland on opening night. He finished the regular season with 242 hits and a .350 average to add the AL batting title to the seven he won in Japan. He's only the second rookie to do it.

"Nothing ever slowed him down," Buhner said. "He hit a little bit of a rut, but then followed it with a 23-game hitting streak."

The Mariners need a lot more players to contribute offensively Thursday. They're not worried that will happen.

"We had 162 pressure-type games," McLemore said. "It's all pressure every day."


 
Related information
Stories
SI's Pearlman: Colon worth the weight
Game 1: Colon, Indians blank Mariners 5-0
Up-and-down Indians turn things on in Game 1
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