2001 MLB Postseason

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Seattle Mariners 6
Cleveland Indians 2
Posted: Sunday October 14, 2001 10:26 PM
Seattle Mariners
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Cleveland Indians
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CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- With their dream season on the line, the Seattle Mariners had the right guy at the plate.

Japanese rookie sensation Ichiro Suzuki highlighted a three-run seventh-inning rally with a two-out RBI single as the Mariners forced a decisive Game Five in the American League Division Series with a 6-2 triumph over the Cleveland Indians.

Down two games to one and trailing 1-0 in the seventh against an overpowering Bartolo Colon (1-1), the Mariners scored six times over the final three innings. With the victory, Seattle returns home for a Game Five and avoids being tagged with a "choker" label despite winning a major league record-tying 116 games in the regular season.

Colon was in total control when John Olerud opened the seventh with a eight-pitch walk and Stan Javier flared a single into left. Colon tried to pick off Olerud but the throw went into center field as Olerud moved to third. Mike Cameron followed with a walk to load the bases.

Pinch hitter Al Martin grounded sharply to first base and Jim Thome fired to the plate to force Olerud. David Bell flied deep into the left-field corner and when Marty Cordova caught the ball in foul territory, Javier scored the tying run.

Suzuki, who batted .449 with runners in scoring position this season, grounded a single into right to score Cameron with the go-ahead run. Mark McLemore, who was 0-for-12 in the series, followed with another base hit as Martin scored for a 3-1 lead.

"The game was already tied and I just wanted pitches that I could hit," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "I wanted to hit. The game was tied so you know we would not go home losing in that situation, I was just as normal as possible."

"I don't know what I can say," Indians catcher Einar Diaz said of the decision to pitch to Suzuki. "We wanted to be careful with him but he got a hit."

A seven-time batting champion in Japan, Suzuki was signed by the Mariners in the offseason and ignited their offense from the start. He led the AL in batting average, hits and stolen bases and was second in runs scored.

"Well, he's hit close to .450 all year with men in scoring position," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "You know he's going to make good contact. You've got 244 hits during the regular season -- he's had, what, I think 10 in the playoffs now. So, the answer is yes."

"I have had pressure on my shoulders all the time," Suzuki added. "In pressure situations, my mental approach is a normal as possible. I went over the pressures. .... I have a lot of confidence against any pitcher who is on the mound."

Indians manager Charlie Manuel had lefthander Ricky Rincon in the bullpen but opted to stay with Colon.

"When I went out to the mound I talked to (Colon), I wanted to find out exactly where he was at, how he felt," Manuel said. "He was really upbeat about it. He wanted to stay in the game. I told him, 'If you can, try to keep the ball down, get the ball down and away if you can, and if you get ahead, you can try to pound hard up.' I think he got behind on the first pitch with a ball, then looked like he got the ball up or something and he hit the ball in the hole.

"I was thinking about bringing Rincon in, but at the same time, once I walked to the mound all these things were going through my mind. And I thought to myself, once I saw that he wanted to pitch and he wanted to stay out there, we had a 1-1 game. I thought, well, here is my best pitcher, the league's leading hitter, he's still throwing good and I had faith he was going to get him out."

Colon had tossed 14 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the series prior to Bell's sacrifice fly and finished allowing three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struggled with his control, walking four.

"Bartolo pitched a good game," Diaz said. "I thought we were in good shape but they came back and got some big hits."

"The way he was throwing the ball, to get three runs off of him was impressive," Bell said.

Seattle starter Freddy Garcia (1-1) avenged a Game One loss to Colon. The Mariners' ace allowed two runs -- one earned -- and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked only one and struck out five.

Jeff Nelson got a key out in the seventh before Arthur Rhodes tossed 1 1/3 effective innings. Rhodes got the game to Kazuhiro Sasaki, who struck out two in a perfect ninth.

"We had confidence," Piniella added. "We had confidence that we would come out here and play a good ballgame; that Freddy would give us a chance to win. We felt good about our chances, we really did. But, you never know. You can talk about it. You've still got to get it done on the field, and that's what we did, which is more important."

Monday's Game Five is at 4 p.m. EDT in Seattle with the Mariners sending veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer to the mound. Cleveland counters with Chuck Finley. Moyer got the best of Finley in a 5-1 victory in Game Two.

The start of Sunday's game was delayed for 2 hours, 20 minutes by rain.

Cleveland got within 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Juan Gonzalez hit a fly ball to center field that Cameron misplayed into a double. After a groundout by Thome, Piniella turned to Nelson, who struck out Ellis Burks on a check swing. The ball got away from catcher Tom Lampkin, allowing Burks to reach.

Travis Fryman followed with a ground ball that took an awkward hop and the Mariners could only get a forceout at second as Gonzalez scored. Rhodes came on and retired Wil Cordero on a fly ball to the warning track in left.

Seattle extended its lead to 4-2 in the eighth when Cameron redeemed himself with a two-out RBI double. Suzuki got the Mariners going again in the ninth with a one-out single and Edgar Martinez greeted reliever Paul Shuey with a long two-run homer to left.

Suzuki is 9-for-16 in the series. He opened the contest by reaching on an error by Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel but McLemore bounced into a double play. Martinez followed with a double into the right-field corner but Bret Boone lined out.

The Mariners left another runner in the second and in the bottom of the inning, Gonzalez hit his second homer of the series and eighth in the postseason.

"I made a mistake," Garcia admitted. "I threw a breaking pitch in the middle, I was trying to pitch it away, and he hit it pretty good."

Cleveland tried to build a run in the third but Diaz could not get down a bunt and Kenny Lofton bounced into a double play. The Indians wasted a leadoff walk by Thome in the fifth and Seattle had two aboard in the sixth when Boone bounced into an inning-ending double play.


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