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September 24, 2010 at 8:19 PM

NEW WITH QUOTES — Rays 5, Mariners 3: Dan Cortes, Anthony Varvaro look good in debuts, but not enough offense again

The best news to come out of tonight’s game was the work by relievers Dan Cortes and Anthony Varvaro, who made their big league debuts in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Cortes retired the side on two groundouts and a strikeout, needing only nine pitches to do so.
His fastest pitch was clocked at 98 mph. He averaged 97 or 98 mph throughout. Remember he’s been clocked at 102 mph by his team and 103 mph by a stadium radar gun.
“I just wanted to land some strikes, so yeah, I controlled myself,” Cortes said. “Usually, I rear back when I get two strikes and stuff.”
Cortes, I should tell you, was dripping sweat like Niagara Falls and panting like a Doberman looking for a steak as he spoke to us. He was fresh off a weight training session post-game and looked like he’d just bench pressed 20 reps of 300 pounds.
We hear he’s the type who might try that.
So, yeah, this was a controlled, milder version of Cortes. Not the guy throwing 102 mph.
Then again, when you drop in mid-80s sliders for strikes, it doesn’t matter whether your fastball breaks 100.
“I hadn’t thrown my slider in a while,” Cortes said. “It was crazy. I had so much control out there.”
It really wasn’t fair once he got Kelly Shoppach to swing through a 98 mph offering on the first pitch. In came the sliders next and Shoppach looked completely overmatched.


“He was more consistent with it than he wasn’t,” Mariners catcher Adam Moore said of the sliders Cortes threw in Class AAA when he was there. “His slider, he’s able to throw it for strikes more than anything. You’ve got to stay consistent as a hitter when he’s a guy throwing 98 and can also drop a slider in there for strikes.”
Varvaro struck out the first two batters he faced before walking B.J. Upton, then getting a fielder’s choice groundout on Jason Bartlett to end that frame.
Varvaro threw a nasty 12-6 curve ball that had the Rays fooled. Buyoed by those two strikeouts, Varvaro said he got away from him game plan a bit in walking Upton, but then recovered.
But the offense couldn’t put Jeff Neimann away when it had chances early. The M’s outhit the Rays 9-8 tonight, but Tampa Bay pushed runs across with sac flies and a bunt single. Neimann hasn’t won since Aug. 3, going on the DL after that and being 0-4 with a 14.43 ERA since coming back.
Not anymore.
That was the 95th loss by the Mariners. With nine to play, they need to go 5-4 to avoid 100 losses.

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