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April 22, 2011 at 11:32 PM

Michael Pineda keeps on rolling in Mariners victory

If you missed Geoff Baker Live! pre-game, we played a clip of shortstop Brendan Ryan discussing whether Justin Smoak or Adam Kennedy has the best stretch at first base. We asked Eric Wedge about Kennedy’s first base defense .
A viewer wanted to know what’s wrong with Erik Bedard. After I replied, another viewer suggested Bedard had a good strikeouts-to-walks ratio for a guy with command issues. I explained that the walks weren’t his biggest problem to arise out of the command struggles. Finally, a viewer asked me whether Wedge had lost confidence in some struggling bullpen arms. I used that question to play a clip of a pre-game exchange I had with Wedge about where he goes from here with Chris Ray.

Nice to see the Mariners facing a mirror image of themselves offensively for a change. Now, it’s the Oakland A’s looking totally useless at the plate, having gone 18 consecutive innings without a run this series.
Michael Pineda had a little bit of trouble, but nothing he couldn’t pitch out of. The second inning was huge after the A’s got the first two on via walks. But Pineda retired three in a row after that, the first two on strikeouts.
That left him with a pitch-count at 45. But Pineda made a between-innings adjustment and got through the next four innings on just 52 pitches.
“My mechanics were a little open in that inning, with my left shoulder,” Pineda said. “But I made an adjustment in the third inning. I stayed back and I threw the ball down.”
Pineda also said his slider feels much better than it did in spring training. We saw him notch a pair of early strikeouts with it tonight, clocking in at 83 and 84 mph. One of them froze the hitter and the other made him check his swing too late.
When you’re throwing a 96 mph fastball like Pineda was tonight, something else in the low-to-mid 80s that’s halfway accurate can be devastating for a hitter to deal with.
Oakland had a chance to tie the game in the fifth inning, but Kevin Kouzmanoff was thrown out at the plate by Adam Kennedy. The M’s scored three in the bottom of the inning off some porous pitching — which included three straight walks — to put away what became a 4-0 victory.
Jamey Wright almost got scored on for the first time in 2011 — counting spring training — but, with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Brandon League got a 5-4-3 double-play grounder to end the game.
But the story of the game was, once again, Pineda.

Pineda tossed six scoreless innings and became just the second rookie in club history to record three wins in the month of April, the last being Freddy Garcia in 1999. The record is for wins by a Mariners rookie in any month is five, set by Dave Fleming in May 1992.
Pineda won’t get a shot at that mark, since he’s only scheduled to make one more April start. But he’s already become the first Seattle pitcher to toss four consecutive “quality starts” – at least six innings pitched, three earned runs or fewer allowed – to begin his career.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge liked the way Pineda handled himself on the mound following the early adversity.
“i think that, for a young man, he has a strong focus out there,” Wedge said. “He doesn’t let things speed up on him for the most part. You have to keep pitching. And I think that’s the most important part of that.”
Jack Wilson had a pretty good night for the M’s. He collected a pair of key hits — a rarity since Wedge benched him two weeks ago — and also looked very confident at second base, turning a couple of double plays in the seventh and ninth.
“He does look comfortable,” Wedge said. “And I felt like he looked comfortable maybe before he felt that. He’s done a fantastic job. He has quick feet, quick actions, he reacts well and he’s playing a good second base for us.”
Wilson said the benching did indeed impact his timing at the plate and he’s only now starting to get some of it back. He seemed to agree with Wedge’s assessment that the manager might have thought he looked more comfortable out there than he did.
“I think I’m a huge perfectionist at everything I try to do,” Wilson said. “Especially at shortstop. I’d take a million ground balls. A million throws. So, going over there (to second base) I was kind of hard on myself.”

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