Obviously everything pregame was about the new lineup and such. Postgame most of the talk was about Doug Fister.
He was really good. Mariners manager Eric Wedge raved about him after the game as you can see in the video above.
Fister isn’t a lot of things. He isn’t a hard-thrower. He isn’t intimidating. He isn’t much for talking about himself. But he is a competitor, which Wedge loves about him. The perfect example came in the seventh inning with the Mariners leading 4-1 and runners on first and second and two outs.
Fister was facing Mark Reynolds, who had deposited an errant cut fastball into the upper deck in left field in the third inning for the Orioles’ only run of the game. With two strikes, Fister sawed off Reynolds on a fastball inside. The pitch shattered the bat, sending the head toward third base where Figgins had to try and avoid the flying projectile. Fister, seeing that Figgins might not be able to make a play on the ball that was going land in foul territory in between third and home, raced off the mound and dove for it, extending his whole 6-foot-8 frame onto the grass. His dive came up about a body length short. But Wedge couldn’t have been prouder.
“That tells you about everything we’ve been talking about,” Wedge said. “He’s hungry for that baseball. We like to see that as long as he doesn’t get hurt.”
Fister pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, striking out a career-high nine batter and walking just one. If Chone Figgins makes a couple of plays at third, he gets eight innings easy and probably allows just one run.
Fister said it was a struggle to get lose. (He says he struggles a lot). This time saying it was a mental struggle. But he seemed to find a decent rhythm and throw well.
“I was really just focusing on each pitch, saying I had confidence in that pitch and letting it do what it does,” he said.
Fister’s fastball had a little more life and velocity than usual. According to Baseball by Brooks, his fastball averaged about 91.3 mph, which is up a few ticks. He also had very good command with his curveball. He threw it 18 times, 13 for strikes. It’s a pitch that most players won’t even offer at because of the big break and because they are sitting fastball.
“I threw quite a few,” he said. “It’s a big pitch to change the hitters eye level and get them off my fastball.”
As for the new lineup? Well I guess it accounted for one run in the first with Brendan Ryan scoring Ichiro from third with a ground ball. I dare say Figgins could hit a similar ground ball (maybe not field one) in that situation.
Seattle also got a run when perhaps the two slowest people on the team had to advance three bases on one hit. Justin Smoak scored from first on Jack Cust’s triple right-center. That’s not a typo.
“There’s not many opportunities for me to get triples,” Cust said. “The ball fell away from them and it was pretty easy.”
It was the second triple of Cust’s 10-year career. The first came on August 18, 2007 against the Kansas City Royals in Oakland.
“It was a line drive to center field that bounced over the center fielder’s head,” Cust said. “It hit something on the ground during football season at the beautiful Oakland Coliseum. I thought I was going to hit an inside the parker, but my body wasn’t willing to do it.”