Sele blanks Padres on four hits

Sele blanks Padres on four hits

SEATTLE -- The Mariners have been patient with right-hander Aaron Sele this season, accepting an occasional rocky outing while anticipating something like the game he pitched Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

Well, maybe not quite this good.

Even the staunchest Sele backer probably would have a tough time believing the veteran of more than 12 Major League seasons had this kind of game in him -- a masterful four-hit, 5-0 complete-game victory over the National League West-leading Padres before 41,017.

Sele's first complete-game shutout since blanking the Dodgers on June 29, 2002, was so good that the Padres never had a runner get past first base.

"He was sensational," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "No question. That was the best outing of the year."

It was the best outing of the year for a Mariners starting pitcher, period.

Sele (3-4) retired the leadoff batter in every inning and kept the ball down, which resulted in only eight putouts being made by the outfielders. He walked one, struck out three and induced double-play grounders that ended the first and third innings.

Between Ryan Klesko's one-out single in the fourth inning, and Dave Roberts' one-out single in the ninth, Sele retired 14 of the 16 batters he faced.

"It was a lot of fun playing behind him," said center fielder Jeremy Reed, who went 3-for-4, drove in two runs and scored a run. "It seemed like every pitch he threw was a strike and you can't say enough about it when your team is in the dugout the majority of the game."

As much fun as it was playing behind Sele, it was more even more fun for Sele.

"It was a real fun game,"he said. "The guys got a couple of runs early which increases your margin for error. I just did the same thing I tried to do last time -- keep the ball down, try to get ground balls and the guys really picked it up and played good defense. It was fun."

It was not fun as recently as two weeks ago when the veteran had been rocked for the second consecutive outing, lasting just 2 2/3 innings in his May 10 start against the Yankees.

There were rumors -- outside the clubhouse -- that the 34-year-old was on the verge of losing his spot in the starting rotation.

But manager Mike Hargrove and Price stuck with him.

"You don't want to be too impatient because you become foolish," Hargrove said. "Baseball is like no other sport in that if you have a talented guy, more times than not, patience will pay off. You have to allow people to stumble a little and pick themselves up. Aaron has certainly stumbled, but he seems to have recovered nicely."

Sele has responded with solid back-to-back starts for the first time this season.

He was coming off a six-inning start against the Yankees when he surrendered one run.

"We put a lot of side work in on my mechanics and my release point, [prior to the Yankees game] and it was a lot better than it had been," he said. "This week it was the same thing."

With almost 15 years of managerial experience behind him, Hargrove understands and appreciates patience.

"I think that sometimes in this game we are too quick to jump to conclusions, or look for solutions too quickly and not allow people to settle in and do their jobs. That's a normal human reaction and I know we have to fight (being impatient) here in the clubhouse and dugout every day."

Price said there hasn't been any talk whatsoever about replacing Sele -- or anyone else -- in the five-man rotation.

Sele finishes what he starts
San Diego at Seattle, May 22, 2005
Aaron Sele (3-4) picked up the victory with his first complete game of the season. Sele's last complete-game shutout was as a member of the Angels, when he dominated the Dodgers in a 7-0 win on June 29, 2002. His line Sunday:
Key numbers for Sele:
Pitches-strikes: 112-69; Groundouts-flyouts: 10-9;
Season strikeouts-walks: 23-25; WHIP: 1:54

"Mike and I have never discussed removing any of the guys in the rotation out of the rotation," he said. "The only thing we have done is take Joel (Pineiro) out for one start. We never considered doing anything that had long-term ramifications."

As for the rumors regarding Sele, Price said, "Certainly, there is going to be speculation when the rotation is not pitching well as a unit. But we don't want to get too quick and rush to judgment with this group because all of them have a history of being successful as starters. We have to give them a chance to be successful."

The most significant change made Sunday was having recently re-acquired veteran catcher Pat Borders behind the plate.

"Pat Borders did a tremendous job behind the plate, calling the game and getting him through it," Hargrove said. "Today, Pat clicked with Aaron and it was nice to see."

The 42-year-old Borders was like a little kid when he looked at the lineup card posted prior to the game and saw his name on it, batting eighth. It was his first start in the big leagues since playing in the AL playoffs last October with the Twins.

"I have fun every day I get to play," said Borders, acquired from the Brewers on Friday. "I was having a blast out there. With the control (Sele) had on all of his pitches, and I being lucky to get a hit, it was a great day."

Ditto for Sele.

"It's fun to throw to him," he said. "You have a guy with 20 years of experience behind the plate and it makes it easy to pitch."

But rarely is it as easy as Sele made it seem on Sunday.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.