Batista rebounds in win over Rangers
Righty makes up for rough debut with 6 2/3 sharp frames
SEATTLE -- While the rest of the Seattle Mariners have spent the past few days pressing to recover their timing and rhythm after their week of relative inactivity, all of Miguel Batista's efforts were focused on the positives.That may be the primary reason Batista has sustained his 17-year professional baseball career. It couldn't have been more positive for him on Saturday at Safeco Field against Texas, as the 36-year-old Mariners right-hander worked 6 2/3 innings in helping his club beat the Rangers, 8-3. He allowed five hits and three runs while striking out five. He notched the impressive win despite not pitching for 10 days due to five postponements during the Mariners' recent road trip, and despite his anxiousness to undo his first impression -- an April 4 start in which he allowed eight runs on 10 hits in a 9-0 loss to Oakland. "I was pretty well rested, I can tell you that," joked Batista, who signed a three-year, $25 million free-agent deal this offseason. "There is no doubt [the layoff] gave me time to heal. I was pretty much beat up the last two weeks of Spring Training. "I'm glad things came out OK today. You guys don't know how hard this team is trying push together." Asked if there was any pressure on him to show the club and the fans that his first outing was an aberration, Batista laughed. "I pitched in the World Series [for Arizona] after 9/11," he said. "I'm sure pitching here wasn't much tougher than that. I just glad I was able to help the team to win. That's the reason I was brought here." Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said that Batista's initial rocky outing was probably caused by his overexcitement to make a strong first impression.
"This time, he was more in control out there," Hargrove added. "He got the ball down. He threw strikes. I thought he threw well today."The Mariners' offense came to life behind two-run home runs by both Adrian Beltre and Jose Guillen. The Rangers helped Batista's effort by enabling the Mariners' four-run third-inning rally. Jose Lopez opened with a single, then catcher Jamie Burke -- in his first start since Oct. 2, 2004 -- had an excellent at-bat, finally doubling down the right-field line. "He fought of some really tough pitches then hit the double down the line," Hargrove said. "He really set the inning up for us." Rangers starter Vicente Padilla (0-3) then hit Ichiro Suzuki on the arm to load the bases. That got the blood flowing, as Batista hit Michael Young to start off the Rangers' fourth. Batista said that's the "ugliest part of the game, but you have to protect your players. You don't want to do it, but someone hurts one son, you have to hurt somebody else's." Hargrove, asked if Padilla's pitch was on purpose, said, "Yeah, probably. ... Wait, I don't know. I can't say that, but it was awfully suspicious." Rangers manager Ron Washington responded, "He didn't hit Ichiro [on purpose], but they definitely Mike on purpose. They did something they intended to do. It seems like we have some bad blood with Seattle." At any rate, hitting Ichiro only deepened Padilla's trouble. Beltre followed with an apparent double-play grounder to third baseman Hank Blalock, who literally booted it across the diamond, allowing Lopez to score. That was followed by a virtual instant replay on the other side. Second baseman Ian Kinsler tried to gather in another double-play grounder by Jose Vidro, but he slipped and the ball got past him, allowing two more runs to score. Even though Young was plunked to open the fourth, Batista got out of the inning with a 4-6-3 double play. Beltre made it 6-0 in the fourth with his first home run over the left-field wall on an 0-2 pitch. Brad Wilkerson got one back with a solo in the fifth, and Sammy Sosa hit his 590th career home run in the sixth to make it 6-3. Guillen then connected on his first home run as a Mariner in the seventh off C.J. Wilson. "It seemed like he was missing the zone in his first start," Burke said of Batista. "Today, I just wanted him to focus on the need to throw strikes. "Miguel knows what he's doing out there," added Burke, 35, who made the club as a non-roster free agent. "He went out and did a great job with that layoff. It did not affect him, what the fans think. He has good enough stuff to keep us in the game every time he goes out there." That's what Batista believes his job is here. He continues to see the positives. "A lot of people have emphasized that this team spent a lot of money bringing in guys like me to help this organization become world champions," Batista added. "We're all in this boat together. We want to show people that we're here to win. We're not here to compete."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.