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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 23, 2007 at 9:48 PM

A relieved clubhouse

It’s only one win, but the mood was considerably lighter in the clubhouse afterwards. Brandon Morrow got a shaving cream pie in the face from J.J. Putz on the field and was also hauled into the showers and doused with beer by his teammates.
I asked Mike Hargrove about his decision to stick with Morrow for 3 1/3 innings. Hargrove actually planned to pull Morrow in the seventh had Hank Blalock gotten a turn at-bat. The Mariners had George Sherrill and Eric O’Flaherty ready in the bullpen and O’Flaherty would have faced Blalock had he come up that inning. When Morrow got through the inning 1-2-3, with Blalock now due to lead off the eighth, Hargrove had a lengthy debate with bench coach John McLaren and pitching coach Rafael Chaves.
The debate was over whether to stick with Morrow, or bring in Sherrill to face Blalock and use Chris Reitsma against the righties after that.
“The consensus was we all thought this kid was throwing the ball lights-out and we’d just go with the hot hand,” Hargrove said.
Morrow went back out, got Blalock to pop out and then, after a single, a second out and a walk, J.J. Putz came on to get the save.
Morrow felt strong and loose and was pumped-up on adrenaline when he entered in the fifth inning. He relied primarily on his fastball, using 97 mph heaters to fan Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz with the bases loaded.
“It was coming out of my hand real well,” Morrow said of the fastball. “I wasn’t throwing my off-speed stuff too good. I only threw a few off speed pitches.”
Kinsler had been looking for an off-speed pitch on that 97 mph heater Morrow threw down the middle for a strike on a 2-1 count. Good thing too. Morrow had fanned Kinsler last week in Seattle and Kinsler was expecting something off-speed.
“He had thrown me some off-speed stuff before,” Kinsler said. “Jamie (Burke) is a pretty smart catcher. He did throw me a good pitch. Maybe it froze me a little bit. But if it had been a fastball up, I would have been swinging.”
The next pitch, also a fastball, had Kinsler swinging and missing.
Putz said the win was badly needed by a club looking for any type of lift.
“I think the team needs it big-time,” he said. “A six game losing streak. There’s so much to be said about the (snow-filled) road trip we went on after the (early) games at home. It kind of just pulled us back. It was weird, we couldn’t get in a groove.But we came out and swung the bats today.
“We jumped on (Kevin Millwood) early, that was nice to see. Ichiro coming up with the bases loaded…runners in scoring position. He’s been struggling in that situation but he was right on. The old Ichiro. The one we need.”

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