So what was the storyline? Ask Langerhans.
“The big guy on the hill,” he said, and he meant the 6-foot-7, 260-pound beast that is Michael Pineda.
“I was talking to (Michael) Saunders on the way in between innings and saying ‘He’s throwing 97-98 mph – and not even using the middle of the plate,” Langerhans said. “He was working in, working out, and throwing his breaking ball for strikes.”
The 22-year-old went 7 1/3 innings and was dinged in the eighth for two runs, one of them earned. His fastball topped out at 99 mph, his slider bit, his changeup … well … it remains a pitch-in-waiting.
Now 1-1 with a 2.70 earned run average, Pineda remains more potential than finished product, but against a team that was looking for fastballs and sliders, he gave them what they wanted – and through seven innings shut them out.
Yes, he’s technically the fifth starter in the Seattle rotation. But, using the off-day to wiggle things around last week, pitching coach Carl Willis and manager Eric Wedge have Felix Hernandez and Pineda now pitching back-to-back.
Want to be a hitter when those two boys pitch in a series?
There will be bumps and disappointments along the way – hey, Felix allowed seven runs on Monday night – but Pineda is worth bringing the kids out to see. At Safeco Field tonight, 15,500 were there, so good seats are likely still available for Pineda’s remaining starts.
Once he gets this changeup thingie figured out, he might not need three runs. Or a bulllpen.