Mariners 7, Tigers 1
DETROIT (AP) _ Jamie Moyer noticed the difference right away. The mound at Tiger Stadium was more firm. Heather Nabozny, the first female groundskeeper in the major leagues, could have told him that.
With sound footing, Moyer’s mechanics were almost perfect as he kept free-swinging Detroit batters off-balance with an assortment of sneaky fastballs, curves and changeups. It seemed like every pitch he threw had some movement on it.
As a result, Moyer, won his seventh straight decision, matching a career high, and pitching the Seattle Mariners to a 7-1 win Wednesday night.
``They did something to the mound here,″ said Moyer (8-4), who has rebounded nicely from a 1-4 start this season. ``In the past, the mound was horrible here. After three or four innings, there was a deep hole in front of the rubber, and the landing area was all dust.
``To me, that’s my office. And I want my office to be just right.″
``I’m using different clay,″ said Nabozny, 28, who took over this season after Frank Feneck retired following 35 years at the ballpark. ``We’re mixing some of the old clays with some of the new clays I brought in.
``Plus, we put an old tarp over it during batting practice. That keeps the moisture in.″
Nabozny, who spent five years as head groundskeeper for the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers’ west Michigan minor league affiliate, said she started buying Canadian clay after a Michigan supplier ran out.
``Whatever she’s doing, it’s perfect,″ Detroit reliever Doug Brocail said. ``Even the bullpen mounds are better. It’s almost impossible for guys to screw them up.
``She knows what she’s doing, that’s for sure.″
So does Moyer, who has a career 1.97 ERA against the Tigers. He struck out nine in eight innings, walked none and gave up seven hits.
``I wasn’t trying to strike people out,″ Moyer said. ``That’s something that just happens. But mechanically, I was pretty sound and _ especially early _ I had a lot of movement on my changeup.″
Moyer, who also won seven in a row in 1996, has one no-decision during his current streak. His last loss was to Boston on May 1.
``The more you come to the plate against him, the more you want to hit against him,″ Tony Clark said. ``And he knows that. He’s using your aggressiveness against you.″
Ken Griffey Jr. hit two doubles and Dan Wilson homered for the Mariners, who improved to two games over .500 for the seventh time this season.
``With Seattle, you’re talking about one of the best offenses in the game,″ said Clark, who had two singles off Moyer. ``You’ve got to be aware of that, and that’s why it’s important to get to somebody like Moyer early.″
Dave Mlicki (3-6), who has struggled with his control since being acquired by Detroit in a trade with Los Angeles on April 16, walked the first two batters in the Seattle second, and both scored.
David Bell, who hurt the Tigers with a two-run triple the night before, doubled home one run, and Wilson had an RBI grounder.
Clark’s RBI single narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the Detroit third. Wilson homered in the fourth.
Seattle took a 5-1 lead in the fifth when Alex Rodriguez singled and Griffey doubled. Butch Huskey had a sacrifice fly and David Segui hit an RBI single.
``Our pitching is the key to this team, because there’s no doubt we’re going to score runs,″ said Brian Hunter, whom the Tigers traded to Seattle in April. ``Jamie Moyer is tough. He’s so totally into the game.
``He works fast, and that keeps the fielders into the game, too.″
Hunter doubled in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez for a 6-1 lead. John Mabry had an RBI single in the ninth.
Notes: Clark is hitting .440 _ 11 hits in 25 at-bats _ with two homers and eight RBIs in his six games since returning from the DL last Friday. ... Detroit right-hander Seth Greisinger had Tommy John surgery Tuesday to repair a sprained ligament in his right elbow. The operation, by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Clinic in Alabama, was termed a success, but Greisinger will miss the rest of the season. ... Griffey started at DH for the second straight game and third time this season. ... Detroit’s Gregg Jefferies was ejected by umpire Al Clark in the fifth for arguing a called third strike. ... Detroit beat Moyer 7-0 on April 26 in Seattle. He is 7-3 lifetime against the Tigers. ... Moyer has pitched at least eight innings in four of his past five starts and five of seven.