SEATTLE -- When he was negotiating a multi-year contract with the Mariners prior to this season, 35-year-old right-hander Miguel Batista stressed two points to general manager Bill Bavasi. "I told him I was reliable, having been injured just once in 12 years, and I don't care how old you think I am because I don't pitch with my birth certificate." Batista got the contract he wanted -- three years, $24 million -- and he has lived up to it.More
He put the finishing touches on a solid season Saturday night, holding the Rangers to three hits and one run over eight innings in the Mariners' 5-1 victory in front of 26,799 at Safeco Field. Batista won his career-best 16th game and recorded his 1,000th career strikeout along the way. When asked what stood out the most about Batista this season, manager John McLaren said, "Workhorse, professional, prepared, good competitor. He's a pro's pro. I have always admired him and felt you could use him in any role that you need him. He'll do a marvelous job at whatever you ask, and he's done it." Batista ended the season with a 16-11 record, 4.29 ERA and a three-game winning streak during which he surrendered just four earned runs in his final 25 2/3 innings. When he struck out Ian Kinsler in the third inning, Batista became the 55th active pitcher with at least 1,000 strikeouts. He finished the night with 1,003 career strikeouts, and pitched at least six innings for the 23rd time in 32 starts. He also took over the club lead in quality starts with 18. "In a lot of ways, as long as you provide quality starts you are helping your team," he said. "It doesn't mean you are going to win. I led my team [the Arizona Diamondbacks] in quality starts last year, but not in wins. Give your chance a team a win. That's all a pitcher can do." And he has done that regularly for most of the season. While Batista looked especially sharp in seven of the eight innings he pitched, retiring 21 of the 24 batters he faced, his supporting cast had no trouble overcoming a one-run deficit and won going away against veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood. Right fielder Jose Guillen went 4-for-4 and scored two runs. But he remained stuck on 99 RBIs with one game remaining. Third baseman Adrian Beltre contributed a single to Seattle's 11-hit attack, but he also went without an RBI, leaving him one short of the 100 mark. Ichiro Suzuki added two more hits and raised his batting average to .351, but any chances of catching Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez and capturing his third batting title have been dashed. Ordonez, batting .360, did not play on Saturday and probably will take Sunday off as well. As the Mariners end one season and look ahead to the next, future personnel decisions are being considered. Exactly how Mike Morse fits into the big picture going forward figures to draw plenty of attention between now and the end of next Spring Training -- at the latest. Whereas Batista has emerged as a rotation mainstay for next season, others are trying to make strong impressions. Morse, who plays almost every infield position, and the corner spots in the outfield, is among that group. Morse, playing first base for the second consecutive night, went 1-for-4 -- a bases-loaded single into right field that scored two runs in the sixth inning. "He is a very interesting guy," McLaren said. "He has a great arm, good hands, runs well enough, and has some pop in his bat." "A very interesting guy," the manager repeated. Morse, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Tacoma, where he batted .309, hit six home runs and drove in 39 runs. "I know his versatility comes into the picture quite a bit," McLaren said. "He can play a lot of positions and play them well." The Rangers struck first on Saturday night, scoring a run off Batista in the second inning when Nelson Cruz lined a double into right-center field, scoring Brad Wilkerson from second. It didn't take long for the Mariners to get even. Guillen bounced a single up the middle, chugged into third when Jeff Clement singled to right field, and scored when Kenji Johjima bounced into his club-high 22nd double play of the season. Seattle took a 2-1 lead an inning later on consecutive two-out singles by the top of the batting order -- Ichiro, Beltre and Raul Ibanez. Guillen tacked on another hit, an infield single that loaded the bases, but Millwood retired Clement on a fly ball to right-center.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less