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Moyer comes through

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2001

SEATTLE -- Jamie Moyer will get his chance in this AL championship series.

Sidelined last October by a knee injury, Moyer pitched the Seattle Mariners back into the ALCS with a 3-1 victory Monday over Cleveland in the deciding Game 5 of the first-round playoffs.

Working on three days' rest and keeping the Indians off-balance for six innings, Moyer earned his second win of the series. The 38-year-old left-hander won 5-1 in Game 2, and finished with a 1.50 ERA in his two starts.

''It's exciting to be able to contribute,'' Moyer said. ''I think the way we played all year long, everybody contributed and everybody's continuing to contribute. It's great to be a key factor in that contribution.''

Moyer made his pitches in places where the Indians couldn't hit them.

''You know, Cleveland has got some really good fastball hitters,'' manager Lou Piniella said. ''But good fastball hitters invariably are a little more susceptible to the offspeed stuff. And Jamie exploited that exceptionally well.''

''He made some good pitches,'' he said. ''They weren't centered. They were out on the corners. Jamie can do that because he's got such good command.''

Catcher Dan Wilson said Moyer was smart on the mound, too. He adjusted his strike zone to plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck's strike zone.

''After the first inning, we knew the umpire had a low zone,'' Wilson said. ''So then we pounded the bottom of the strike zone after that. It's all a matter of location.''

The Cleveland series was extremely satisfying to the pitcher who was traded to Seattle by Boston July 30, 1996, for Darren Bragg -- injuries had ruined his postseasons in 1997 and 2000.

In his first postseason in the 1997 division series against Baltimore, he had to come out of a Game 2 start because of a strained left elbow in the fifth inning.

Piniella chose not to use him in the Mariners' division sweep of the Chicago White Sox last season, but planned to use him in the ALCS against the New York Yankees.

But Moyer missed that opportunity when his left kneecap was broken by a ball hit by teammate Chris Widger in a simulated game before the series began.

Pitching in the postseason for the second time in his 13-year major league career, Moyer was at his best Monday when he faced Roberto Alomar, who hit a career-high .336 this season.

Moyer got Alomar to hit into a double play in the first inning and into a 5-4-3 double play in the third when the Indians had the bases loaded after they scored their run.

The switch-hitting Alomar had not grounded into a double play from the right side all season before doing it twice against Moyer.

Moyer gave up one run on three hits, all in the third inning, with one walk and six strikeouts. For the division series, he limited the Indians to eight hits and two walks, with 10 strikeouts, in 12 innings.

Moyer came back in the fourth inning to strike out Juan Gonzalez, Ellis Burks and Jim Thome, all on called strikes.

''For some reason, I felt like in the fourth inning, I got my second wind,'' Moyer said. ''I went out to the mound and I almost felt like we had scored a couple of runs in the bottom half of the inning. That was the kind of energy I had. I thought I made some pretty decent pitches and they chose not to swing.''

Moyer had a career season in 2001, when the Mariners tied the major league record with 116 victories. He went 20-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 33 starts and 209 2-3 innings.

Moyer owned the Indians this season, going 4-0 against them in the playoffs and the regular season. He was 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA in two starts against them during the regular season.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder makes up for what he lacks in size and strength with guile. His fastball tops out at 85 mph, so he relies heavily by spotting his pitches on the corners. He owns one of the best changeups in the game.

When he misses his spots, he can give up home runs. He surrendered 24 during the regular season.

The Mariners won a division series for the third time in four tries since 1995 although Bret Boone, the AL RBIs leader with 141 this season, was 2-for-21 and did not drive in a run. Both of his hits were singles.

''Let's be honest, I was terrible for five games,'' Boone said. ''But we won and that's what's important. I don't think you can say enough about Jamie down the stretch. He pitched great in our biggest game of the year.''

Mike Cameron, Seattle's All-Star center fielder, said he was certain the Mariners were going to win Monday because Moyer was on the mound.

''I had total confidence in him,'' Cameron said. ''He's done it time and time again. Every single time he's pitched. Especially against good offensive clubs like Cleveland. They made a few adjustments from the first time he pitched against them in the series. But Jamie made a few adjustments of his own, too.''



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