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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / AMERICAN LEAGUE

Cameron Helps Mariners Steal One From White Sox

Baseball: His stolen base in 10th changes mind-set of Martinez, who follows with decisive homer in 7-4 win.

October 04, 2000|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Seattle Mariners are doing just fine without Junior.

Mike Cameron, one of the players acquired in the Ken Griffey Jr. trade, supplied the speed, unnerving his former team with a key stolen base.

And the Mariners' old reliable, Edgar Martinez, and John Olerud added the power in the 10th inning as Seattle beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-4, in the opener of their AL playoff series Tuesday.

Martinez hit a two-run homer right after Cameron's steal--which followed a rare on-the-field meeting with Manager Lou Piniella at first base.

After Martinez's shot cleared the left field wall, Olerud followed with a solo homer.

What was Piniella doing coming to first to talk with his baserunner?

"He said, 'Relax,' " Cameron said. "Whatever he told me, it worked. The only time you see that is Little League.

"I can't tell you exactly what he said. It's a secret we have to keep under the sheets. I guess it was a moment of truth. He wanted to shore things up and make sure I was comfortable."

The consecutive homers came off Chicago relief ace Keith Foulke, who'd surrendered only nine home runs in 88 innings all season.

Martinez said Cameron's stolen base changed his approach.

"When Mike was at second, I tried to make contact and make my swing a little shorter," Martinez said. "By him being at second, I was able to wait more for the pitch and make a better swing."

Cameron, traded away by the White Sox two years ago to Cincinnati and acquired by the Mariners in the Griffey deal in February, singled in the tying run in the seventh.

He singled again to start the 10th. Alex Rodriguez popped out before Cameron, once projected as a Chicago star, was nearly picked off first.

At that point, Piniella came out of the dugout and talked to Cameron. After a pitchout, Cameron stole second.

"I told him the Nasdaq was down 113 points and Cisco was a heck of a buy," Piniella said, refusing to divulge his on-field advice.

"That's first time I've ever seen that. But whatever he told him, evidently it worked," Chicago second baseman Ray Durham said.

Martinez, who led the AL with 145 RBIs and had a career-high 37 homers, hit a two-run homer to left field to silence a crowd of 45,290 that came to see the White Sox's first playoff appearance in seven years. Olerud followed with a long shot to center.

Jose Mesa, who escaped a jam in the White Sox ninth, was the winning pitcher and Kazuhiro Sasaki pitched the 10th for the save. Foulke took the loss.

"Walking off the mound wasn't the difficult part. Giving up the home run to Edgar was the difficult part," Foulke said. "It was a bad changeup."

Seattle won eight of its final nine road games in the regular season, including a win over the Angels on the last day to clinch the wild card.

The White Sox, who led the majors in scoring and had the best record in baseball, stranded 10 runners.

Charles Johnson, the only White Sox player with a World Series ring, led off the bottom of the ninth with a bloop single. Two outs later, Mesa intentionally walked Frank Thomas and retired Magglio Ordonez on a fly ball with runners at first and second.

Foulke, who saved 34 games this season, had given up one run in his previous 14 2/3 innings of the regular season.

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