When Clint Nageotte spoke hopefully before yesterday's game about being with the Mariners longer than the last time, he had no idea what...
MINNEAPOLIS — When Clint Nageotte spoke hopefully before yesterday’s game about being with the Mariners longer than the last time, he had no idea what was ahead.
Last time, he pitched in only one game — a 1-1/3-inning appearance in Detroit on Aug. 3.
Yesterday, the 25-year-old lasted only one pitch in an 8-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
That serve, which looked like a mis-thrown breaking ball to start the seventh inning, sailed over the head of Lew Ford and convinced plate umpire Larry Poncino that Nageotte had evil intent.
So Poncino tossed Nageotte.
“The umpire totally overreacted,” M’s manager Mike Hargrove said. “The ball slipped out of the kid’s hand. He got in at 11:30 the night before, it was his first game. He’s not throwing at anyone.”
Nageotte was still stunned after the game.
Brad Radke (8-10)
Joel Pineiro (5-8)
Tomorrow: M’s at Texas, 5:05 p.m., FSN/KOMO (1000 AM)
Starting pitchers: M’s Jamie Moyer (10-4, 4.20) vs. Chris Young (10-7, 4.62)
“I slipped on the dirt and the ball came out of my hand. I’m here to get guys out, not hit anyone. I knew who was up, and that probably was why I was thrown out of the game.”
Poncino said: “He can say what he wants. It was the first pitch, the guy had hit a couple of homers in the series, hit a three-run homer earlier in the game.
“There is no doubt in my mind he was throwing at him. Case closed. I’ve got to stop it before it starts.”
The same could not be said for Mariners starting pitcher Joel Pineiro in the fifth inning, when the Twins erupted for six runs.
Previously, Seattle’s starter was belting along with a 3-1 lead on long homers by Raul Ibanez and Greg Dobbs. Ibanez’s was hit to dead center for a run in the first, and Dobbs’ 420 feet to the upper deck in right for two runs and a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
For four innings, Pineiro overcame the lack of a slider that had been working in three solid August starts, two of them wins.
The right-hander gave up leadoff hits in four of the first five innings, but three double plays helped him ease through. Pineiro allowed only one run when Ichiro lost Matt LeCroy’s first-inning pop up against the background of the Metrodome’s notorious fabric ceiling.
“I was getting by, but I was running a lot of long counts — 3-0, 3-1,” Pineiro said. “Then in that one inning, the fifth, they got a lot of balls, like grounders, through on me and they just kept doing it.”
Michael Cuddyer opened the trouble with a double. Seattle and Gonzaga product Mike Redmond singled him home, and Minnesota was off to its third win of the four-game series.
Shannon Stewart doubled, making him 9 for 17 in the series, and Nick Punto tied it 3-3 with an infield out.
Joe Mauer was walked intentionally, and on 0-1 Pineiro wanted to jam LeCroy with a fastball.
“And I did. I thought it was a perfect pitch,” the pitcher said. “But he inside-outed it and put it into right field. I don’t know how, but you’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
LeCroy broke the 3-3 tie. Ford followed with a homer for a third straight game, this one on a first-pitch breaking ball.
Despite the troubles, the Mariners start a series in Texas tomorrow with a new goal for the season.
For a team in the cellar long enough to grow mushrooms on their bats, third might feel like halfway to the stars. Since the start of the 2004 season, they have been in last place 256 of 325 days, including the last 60.
“Moving past Texas would be a good goal for us,” Hargrove said. “Realistically, there’s no way we can put ourselves into the race for the division lead or for the wild card, so moving up would be good for us. Any improvement is always good for pride.”
Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or email@example.com