M’s French, Moore starting to mature as 2010 winds down
SEATTLE – It was pretty easy to tell that Luke French had the game of his career Friday against Cleveland.
Just look at the boxscore. He pitched seven innings, giving up one run and three walks. The Seattle Mariners beat the Indians 1-0.
French was astute enough to know that he didn’t do it alone. He was quick to point out that his catcher, Adam Moore, may have had the game of his life, too – at least defensively.
Moore threw out a base stealer with no one out in the ninth inning, then later in the ninth, with runners on second and third and the Seattle lead looking shakier than the San Andreas Fault during earthquake season, Moore smothered a hard slider thrown in the dirt by closer David Aardsma.
“I can’t say enough about what Adam did in the ninth inning,’’ French said after watching the rest of the game from the Seattle bench. “That was just a great job. He’s got a great feel for catching.’’
The caught stealing – base runner Trevor Crowe was thrown out the first pitch after Aardsma walked him to open the ninth – will show up in the boxscore. The blocked ball won’t show up anywhere, even though it meant the game to the Mariners. And to Moore.
“I was going to get my body in front of that ball any way I could,’’ Moore said. “There’s no way I can let that run score.’’
Interim manager Daren Brown said the progression Moore has made from the beginning of the season to now is remarkable in that he’s had to get so much on-the-job training when he wasn’t in the minor leagues.
“He’s come up here and had to learn our pitchers,’’ Brown said. “Then he had to learn the (league’s) hitters. And when he can, he also had to learn the (opposing) pitchers. That’s a lot to do.
“But he’s really come along. That block in the ninth inning with a man on third base was huge for us. And as you saw tonight, he can throw. I really like what I am seeing with him.’’
The same can be said for French, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and gave Seattle seven shutout innings with just the one hit and three walks allowed. It was the most complete game of French’s career.
“That’s the best rhythm I’ve ever seen him have, and I’ve caught him in the minor leagues as well as up here,’’ Moore said. “Whatever he wanted to throw, he threw it right. The ball was where he wanted it to be all night.’’
It had to be, because after allowing a first-inning run – and pitching out of a bases-loaded none-out jam after the run had scored – Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona threw a gem himself – a complete game allowing just four hits and five walks.
“Fausto was fantastic,’’ Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “He came out of that bases-loaded jam in the first inning and was just light out after that.
“French did a fantastic job tonight, too. He proved that he can throw hard and location is big. He located his fastball on our guys and had a good changeup.’’
Seattle leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki opened the Mariners’ first with a single, moved to second when Carmona walked Chone Figgins, then scored on a single to center by Franklin Gutierrez. Another walk loaded the bases, but Jose Lopez struck out and Casey Kotchman bounced into a double play. After that, the Mariners got two hits and three walks, and three of those five base runners came with two out and nobody on.
John Hickey is a Senior MLB Writer for AOL FanHouse (www.fanhouse.com)