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March 26, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Michael Pineda makes a statement for the Mariners and himself

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That’s Craig Counsell, in the photo above, delivering the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Brewers win the game, 2-1, after the M’s sent their 7th round pick from 2009, left-hander Brian Moran, into the game for his first big league appearance of any kind.
Moran put Brian Boggs on with a walk, made an error fielding a routine bunt, then hit the next batter to load the bases before Counsell — who’s played in Game 7 of a World Series — put the jittery Moran out of his misery. Boggs seemed uncertain whether the ball would be caught and had to tag up late at third, but still slid home easily ahead of the throw.
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Poor Moran looked so amped up on the mound that he didn’t know what to do with himself. Pitching coach Carl Willis tried to calm him down when there were two on, none out, and then, after the game, a smiling manager Eric Wedge did his best to console him.
No harm there. Moran pitched pretty well in Class A ball last year and had only two games of AA experience under his belt before today. For those interested, the M’s had first-round pick Josh Fields with them on today’s trip, but opted to have Moran pitch the 10th.
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Anyhow, on to the stuff that matters, for those wondering, the Mariners have yet to get results of that test yesterday on Franklin Gutierrez. But no matter what the results say, the Mariners are now almost certain to put Gutierrez on the disabled list because he hasn’t gotten enough game action in to be ready to open the season. That’s the feeling within the organization right now. All that remains is for them to make it official.
Michael Pineda looked dominant today, striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits in a 77-pitch performance that covered six innings. Any question that Pineda would open the season with Seattle was answered today.
“It felt good,” he said. “I was able to throw all of my pitches in the strike zone.”
Pineda didn’t throw too many change-ups, but kept the ones he did use down in the strike zone. His plan today was to give the Brewers a different look and just let them know he had the change-up in his arsenal.
In facing the Brewers 10 days ago, Pineda threw mostly fastballs away against lefty-hitting (er, nah, he’s still a righty-hitter…my bad) Rickie Weeks, who managed to notch three doubles. This time, Pineda changed strategy and kept busting the fastballs inside on Weeks — getting a popout, a flyout and a strikeout on him.
“I’m ready for the season,” Pineda said. “I threw all my pitches down in the zone. They were all pretty good, so I think I’m ready for the season.”
Pineda didn’t do a thing his two trips to the plate, staring at three strikes both times. He said after the game that he wanted to swing, but was under orders not to.

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Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the Pineda he saw today was the complete package.
“He was outstanding,” Wedge said. “You’ve seen him be very consistent all spring, but today I think he took it to another level. You look at the way he used his fastball and his secondary stuff was right there for him all day long and he pitched with it. He just really did a great job of commanding the ballgame.”
Wedge was asked about the difference between Pineda’s secondary stuff (his slider and changeup) this time around versus previous efforts.
“I think it’s always been there,” Wedge said. “I just felt like it was all right there for him today. He was able to throw his pitches at any point in time when he wanted to, whether it was a right-hander or a left-hander.”
Wedge said the team is finalizing plans for Pineda’s next outing. Erik Bedard is throwing against the Dodgers in an exhibition game in Los Angeles next Wednesday, so Pineda could pitch a minor league outing after that to remain on schedule to start a week from Tuesday against the Rangers in Texas.
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Brandon League looked good today, retiring the side on a foul popout and two ground balls in the ninth. Chris Ray gave up the tying run on a Jeremy Reed single in the eighth after an error by Brendan Ryan. Ray finished the inning with two strikeouts.
The pitching, aside from Moran, looked good all around today. It was the offense, with just a run on nine hits with 14 combined strikeouts, that came up way short.
Justin Smoak had two more hits after a pair of doubles yesterday, making him the main offensive highlight on a day that had little to speak of.

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