Not much to complain about today at Safeco Field. Brandon Maurer pitch excellently, and just in the nick of time, because a poor outing would have almost certainly resulted in a demotion. But instead, he was pushed into the shower room in a laundry cart after the game to receive the customary reward for his first major-league win: Having the players bombard him with beer, cold water, ketchup and various other gross items. And he loved every minute of it, of course.
The Mariners had done everything they could to simplify things for Maurer, including toning down his scouting report.
“To be honest, the game plan was to just throw my game, and not look too much into hot zones and cold zones for hitters,’’ Maurer said. “Get back to the basics.
Maurer said he and pitching coach Carl Willis also worked on staying over the rubber so he could get his legs more into his delivery. During the game, he concentrated on not rushing, sometimes consciously stopping to take deep breathes. The result was a crackling fastball that hit 94 mph and allowed him to rely less on his breaking pitches. He worked six innings, giving up five hits and three runs (two earned), with a walk and five strikeouts.
“I was getting away from the fastball, and you have to throw your fastball,’’ he said. “I worked on being free with my arm, not being tight up top, just going out and having fun.”
After struggling out of the game in his previous starts, Maurer worked a scoreless first with two strikeouts.
That made me feel much more comfortable out there, going out and knowing my stuff would play,’’ he said.
The Mariners also got some needed production from their struggling young players. Kyle Seager had two doubles, Jesus Montero had two singles and an RBI, Justin Smoak had a double, and Dustin Ackley, looking far more comfortable (to me, anyway) with his more traditional batting stance, drove in what turned out to be the winning run with a single in the sixth.
The only unsettling note was an injury to reliever Stephen Pryor, who was removed with two outs in the eighth inning with what was termed a strained right lat.
Pryor will be re-evaluated on Monday – the Mariners’ first off day of the season after playing 14 straight games out of the gate – but Eric Wedge said, “There’s a chance he could miss some time.”
That would be a tough blow for a Mariners’ team that already saw its entire Opening Day outfield go down with injuries this week. Pryor has retired 22 of 26 batters he’s faced this year and has yet to give up a run. He struck out two in the seventh to leave the potential tying run at second base.
Pryor said he first felt what he called “tightness in the back of my shoulder, around my armpit” while pitching to Lance Berkman in the eighth. He retired Berkman and faced two more batters before coming out.
“It feels like a cramp is the way I’d describe it,’’ he said. “It felt like it balled up and tightened up.”
Pryor, however, doesn’t believe he’ll miss extended time.
“It’s started to release a little and feel better than it did 20 minutes ago,’’ he said. “The team is fighting to win games, and I just want to be there to help. Hopefully,it’s a thing where I just miss a couple of games and am back in action.”