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Washburn on Other Side of Angel Loss

Seattle pitcher says he kept his emotions in check to earn 6-4 victory against his former team.

April 06, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — The most difficult part about this week for Jarrod Washburn wasn't pitching against his friends and former teammates Wednesday afternoon. It was watching them from the Seattle Mariner dugout Monday and Tuesday.

"Seeing [Chone] Figgins lead off and rooting for an out for the first time in my life, rooting for Vladimir [Guerrero] and [Garret Anderson] to make outs, watching [Scot] Shields come into a game and hoping he gives up hits ... ," Washburn said of the Angels. "That was weird. Today was just baseball for me."

Back in more familiar surroundings Wednesday, atop the Safeco Field mound with a baseball in hand and a batter in the box, Washburn looked very much like the left-hander who helped anchor the Angel rotation for seven years before signing a four-year, $37.5-million deal with Seattle this winter.

Washburn went right after hitters, wasting little time and few pitches, and was able to channel his adrenaline throughout an afternoon in which he limited the Angels to two runs and six hits in seven innings to key the Mariners' 6-4 victory.

"I was surprised," said Washburn, who was not offered a contract by the Angels. "I wasn't too excited. I was able to keep my emotions in check. For the most part, I was able to make my pitches."

Washburn walked none and retired 10 straight from the first through fourth innings before giving up Tim Salmon's leadoff home run in the fifth. He gave up another run on Darin Erstad's RBI groundout in the seventh, but ended the inning -- and his workday -- by striking out Casey Kotchman on a slider with a runner on second to preserve a 4-2 lead, punctuating the out with a violent pump of his fist as he hopped off the mound.

"That's just me when I get a big out," Washburn said. "It wouldn't have mattered who it was against. I'm an emotional guy when I'm pitching, and that was a huge out right there. I was happy to get it."

Especially considering the quality of the pitch. Kotchman looked fooled while swinging through the full-count slider, but the Angel first baseman might be surprised to learn that Washburn didn't think too highly of the offering.

"That was a bad slider -- it backed up, it was hanging," Washburn said. "It's good to be lucky sometimes."

Washburn was able to hand the ball over to some of baseball's best bullpens in Anaheim, but he doesn't have that luxury in Seattle, so he had to sweat out Wednesday's victory.

Orlando Cabrera's two-run home run off reliever Julio Mateo pulled the Angels to within 5-4 in the eighth, and after the Mariners tacked on an insurance run on Brendan Donnelly's wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth, the Angels put two runners on with two out in the top of the ninth.

But Mariner left-hander George Sherrill got Figgins to pop out to shortstop on a full-count pitch for his first career save, and the Mariners took two out of three from the Angels in the season-opening series.

"In the big picture, we're swinging the bats well, and that's important," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels, hardly known for their power, hit six home runs in the series. "But our pitching and defense, which are vital to us reaching our goal, weren't very good this series."

Veteran right-hander Jeff Weaver, in his Angel debut, gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday, allowing five of seven leadoff batters to reach base. Four of those runners scored, one on Richie Sexson's two-run double in the first.

"I made it tough on myself," said Weaver, whose first pitch as an Angel was smacked by Ichiro Suzuki for a double in the first. "When the first guy is on every inning it puts pressure on the defense and on you to make pitches and get out of it.... It was a grind all day."

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