Sports

MARINERS: Pitcher challenges teammates after tough loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jarrod Washburn can look like a Methodist school boy most days, with a amicable smile and a conservative haircut.

Occasionally, he can go all grizzled on you – and he did so after he and the Seattle Mariners lost a game Wednesday, 3-1.

“Yeah, everybody goes through bad streaks in a season, and that’s where you find out what you’re made of,” Washburn said. “It’s easy playing when the team is winning and everyone is contributing. How about when your team is struggling. Can you step up?

“Do you find a way to get it done? Do you do whatever it takes?”

That’s the equivalent of baseball fire-and-brimstone.

“At some point every season, every team has the same challenge,” Washburn said. “You have to dig down deep and just get it done. The teams that do contend. Those that don’t? They don’t.”

Washburn has been more than the Mariners had any right to hope for in 2009, a left-hander whose record dropped to 3-2, but whose earned run average – seventh in the league at 2.97 when the day began – actually went down.

Throwing his improved sinker and spotting his fastball, mixing in an occasional change-up, Washburn allowed one earned run in seven innings against Kansas City. When he walked off the mound after his 95th pitch, that ERA was down to 2.68 through six starts.

This month, he’s made two starts, gone seven innings in each and allowed two earned runs. Period. One to Oakland in a no-decision, one to the Royals.

“We know we’re a better team than we’ve shown this month,” Washburn said. “We have to prove it, though. Every team does.”

Griffey ties one on

Ken Griffey Jr. very nearly whined when he heard the Mariners and new skipper Don Wakamatsu were going to have a must-wear-ties policy for team flights this season. Now, he’s making the most of it.

Thanks to an application on his I-phone, Griffey is learning how to put unusually stylish knots in his ties, and was practicing several of them in the clubhouse Thursday. When one of the instructions showed part of his tie being held straight up, catcher Rob Johnson tried to help out – holding Junior’s tie straight up.

The knot turned out to be perfect. Eventually. Junior has made the best of what he considered a sorry situation.

Short hops

Franklin Gutierrez was moved from eighth to third in the lineup Thursday, but not because he’s now hitting .301. Gutierrez moved up because Endy Chavez got the day off. “I like Gutierrez in the eight-hole, and we’ll keep him there for a while,” Wakamatsu said. …Ex-Mariner Willie Bloomquist is at it again. He’s played first base, second base, shortstop, left field and right field already with Kansas City. Since April 15, when he began playing more regularly, he’s batting .457 with a .545 on-base percentage. Bloomquist’s fifth-inning single gave him a 10-game hitting streak. Yes, he’s happy. …After an infield single in the first inning, Ichiro Suzuki stole second base, his fifth steal of the season. He has been caught twice.

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