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August 13, 2010 at 8:30 PM

David Pauley hopes to parlay strong 2010 finish into something more

There was a huge post-game fireworks show here tonight. The Indians were no doubt celebrating having gained a game on the Mariners in the race for the No. 1 overall draft pick.
On the flip side, Seattle losing ground in that battle means a win for pitcher David Pauley, who notched his first big-league victory tonight. Might not seem like all that much to you, since he’d only played nine big league games prior to this year. But Pauley has been a pro ballplayer since 2001 with San Diego. He bounced from Boston, to Baltimore last year and then was out of work.
So, yeah, it was nice to get this one off his back.
“I have no doubt that it goes through a guy’s mind when he’s out there,” Mariners manager Daren Brown said. “He’s been up here before and hasn’t gotten that first win out of the way. And he’s a guy who’s been a starter for us. So, I think, no doubt, it probably frees him up a bit. Frees his mind up a bit.”
I kind of razzed Brown a little afterwards, saying he oughta know since he had family experience in the zero wins thing. His father, Paul, pitched for the Phillies on and off from 1961 to 1968 and went 0-8.
Naturally, I was kidding, since it’s a big deal to make the majors and I’m not going to get on a guy who does with any degree of seriousness.
But it was interesting to look at the comparison between Brown’s father and Pauley.
First off, they were born exactly one day apart, Pauley on June 17 and Paul Brown on June 18 — allowing of course, for the four-decade difference in years. But Brown’s father pitched his final game at age 27. That’s the same age Pauley is now in collecting his first win.
And there should be a little urgency, career-wise on Pauley’s part. It’s not a coincidence Brown’s dad pitched his final game at this age. Nor that Pauley had to grovel for a minor league invitation this past spring.
This is about the age where fringe, or journeyman major leaguers either do it or they don’t. The age where you establish yourself as a full-time big leaguer or get consigned to a life of hoping for that one final call-up that may never come. These are an important seven weeks for Pauley.
“My whole career, especially the last four or five years, I’ve just been looking for an opportunity,” Pauley said.
And if he does well enough, he could get an opportunity next spring. And maybe even something more than a minor league deal.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and keep trying to do well these next seven weeks for the next of the season. And hopefully, give myself an option or a chance to make this team next spring and help them out all year.”

Pauley got the usual beer shower afterwards, reserved for first-time achievements. He also got a game ball. The first person he plans to call is his wife. Good thinking. I didn’t do anything noteworthy tonight, but Amy is the first person I’ll call because I know what’s good for me.
But in all seriousness, he needed this. And needs a few more wins to open some eyes. Going five or six innings with a 4.50 ERA probably won’t cut it for next year on a team that already has Doug Fister. Pauley needs to step it up a notch, maybe go six innings or more and nail down some wins with consistency.
He didn’t do it before largely because of a lack of offense. Tonight, he got it because of his bullpen and an ability to adjust on-the-fly.
Pauley got hit hard when he left some sinkers up in the zone in the second inning. The Indians notched consecutive doubles to tie the game. But he made an adjustment, with help from Adam Moore, who also caught him at Class AAA.
“That’s a good thing, too, with him and I because I was able to work together in AAA,” Moore said. “Normally when he’s up, we’ll start mixing it up a little bit more. Amd he’ll start throwing those secondary pitches for strikes, getting them over and down in the zone. Then he has more confidence with his sinker. We were talking about that in the dugout.”
Brown managed Pauley at AAA and said not much has changed.
“Overall he pitches down,” he said. “When he’s down, he gets ground balls. I thought his breaking ball was good today, he threw it fo strikes when he needed to and he got some ground balls.”
As for my mention of his dad, Brown broke into a smile when asked about the zero wins.
“Well,” he said. “There’s not much he can do about that now.”
And that’s why, he added, guys try to get it out of the way when they do get a shot.
Because, left unsaid, many of the winless guys who stretch into their late 20s don’t know for sure if that next opportunity will ever come.
Pauley got his win. His offense didn’t help much, stranding a whole bunch of guys in scoring position and getting thrown out twice at home. But the bullpen trio of Sean White, Brandon League and David Aardsma came through.
“It was a big win,” Brown said. “It was his first win here and that’s something I can relate to this week so it was good to see him get his first win.”
Brown is starting to get a hang of this winning thing. He’s now 3-1 since taking over from the fired Don Wakamatsu. What does it mean? Not much.
But if pitcher Pauley can win three of his next four starts the rest of the way, he’ll be in great shape this winter.



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