"I might have found something that I wish I might have found years ago in my career, but can't tell you what it is," Batista said after shutting out the Angels for 7 2/3 innings. "I don't know if I'm right yet. It's going to take me at least four or five more starts to figure out if it's going to be able to work as good as I believe it might work. And if it does, I might be able to pitch another five years."
The Mariners' supposed fifth starter has won two straight and pitched more like a 16-game winner and staff ace against the Angels than a No. 5.
"A lot was made of him being our fifth starter," manager John McLaren said, "but we never considered him our fifth starter. That's the way we came out of the blocks. Now, he's a No. 1, like the rest of them."
The Mariners' rotation has done a superb job so far this season, even with a troublesome hip inflammation situation with Opening Day starter Erik Bedard.
Going into Friday night's series opener against the Athletics at Safeco Field, the Seattle rotation leads the Major Leagues in innings pitched (141 2/3) and has the second-lowest ERA in the American League with a 3.43 mark.
While Batista, 2-2, attempts to get his record above .500 for the first time this season, first baseman Richie Sexson continues his pursuit of his 300th career home run.
Just one of the five home runs he has hit this season have come at Safeco Field, where he is batting .125 (5-for-40), compared to a .270 average on the road.
"I've thought about this a lot," McLaren said. "It's something he's got to fight his way through. On the road he's a lot more relaxed and the results are better. It's a tough deal, but I feel confident that if he gets a couple of hits in big situations, he'll feel better and he'll start doing better at home.
"I don't have an answer. All I can say is we're giving Richie our full support. We believe in Richie. Maybe he hits 300 tonight and things will fall into place at home."
SEA: RHP Miguel Batista (2-2, 4.38 ERA)
A victory over the Athletics in the opener of a three-game series would even Batista's career record as a starter at 73-73, a record compiled on 220 starts. He also has 214 relief appearances on his resume. He has a career record of 4-4 with two saves against Oakland, including a 2-2 mark and 4.50 ERA last season. Of the current Athletics, shortstop Bobby Crosby has had the most success against Batista with five hits in 14 at-bats.
OAK: LHP Dana Eveland (2-1, 1.90 ERA)
The reliever-turned-starter has performed well in his new role for the Athletics this season, surrendering one or no runs in three of his four starts and holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average. He has been especially tough on leadoff hitters, allowing only five of the 24 leadoff batters to reach base, two of them via hits. This will be his first start and appearance against the Mariners.
After beating the Orioles seven times in nine games last season, including a three-game series sweep at Safeco Field, the Mariners are 1-6 against the Birds this season with three games remaining, August 1-2-3 in Seattle. ... The ejection of McLaren in the seventh inning Thursday night was his first of the season. ... Ichiro Suzuki stole his fifth base of the season in Thursday night's game, but also was caught stealing for the first time. ... The two-run double by DH Jose Vidro came with two outs. Six of his 15 RBIs this season have come with two outs. ... The last time the Mariners blew a five-run lead was Aug. 28, 2007, against the Angels at Safeco Field. ... The 16,727 turnout was the third-smallest in Safeco history.
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Official game notes
Saturday: Mariners (Erik Bedard, 1-0, 3.27) vs. Athletics (Justin Duchscherer, 1-0, 1.80), 6:10 p.m. PT
Sunday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 2-0, 1.67) vs. Athletics (Joe Blanton, 1-4, 4.32), 1:10 p.m. PT