08/23/2002 6:33 pm ET
MLBeat: Piniella encourages Garcia
By Jim Street / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- For the Mariners to reach the playoffs, manager Lou Piniella knows ace right-hander Freddy Garcia must start pitching like the All-Star pitcher he has been for the past two seasons.
And to make sure the right-hander knows just how important it is for him to regain the touch that made him one of the elite starters in the Major Leagues two years running, Piniella had a one-on-one meeting with his top gun.
"I told him we need for him to win games and offered him some encouragement," Piniella said.
Garcia has only two wins and a 6.61 ERA in his eight second-half starts.
"I think it's bothering him," Piniella said. "You just have to pitch your way out of it."
Garcia, whose next start is Sunday in the series finale against the Indians, said he is well aware of the situation and understands that he needs to pitch better if the Mariners are going to contend for the AL West and/or Wild Card postseason berths.
"I feel good and am working hard [between starts] to get this turned around," he said. "Right now we're tied for first place and I need to win some games. It helps to hear your manager say he still has confidence in you, especially when you've been struggling the way I have.
"But I have been sleeping good and know it's going to get better soon."
He figures that Sunday is a good time to start the flip-flop.
20-20 vision: When center fielder Mike Cameron hit a home run in the first inning Wednesday night in Detroit, he joined teammates Bret Boone and John Olerud in the 20-HR club and it's the ninth straight season the Mariners have had at least three players hit at least 20 homers.
The last year Seattle didn't have three 20-HR hitters was 1993 when only Jay Buhner and Ken Griffey Jr., reached the 20-homer mark. The M's had four 20-homer players last season -- the same three as this season plus Edgar Martinez.
Martinez has 10 despite missing almost three months of the season.
This date in history: Twenty-one years ago on Aug. 23, Gaylord Perry was ejected in the seventh inning for throwing a ball that had a foreign substance on it. It was the first time in his 20-year career that he was ejected for doctoring a baseball.
Fantasy edge: After going through a 0-for-22 slump, center fielder Mike Cameron has seven hits in his last 11 at-bats with a double, home run and three RBIs in three games.
Jim Street covers the Mariners for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of MLB or its clubs.