By Shannon Drayer
Despite losing their entire starting outfield this weekend the Mariners managed to pull off a split with the Rangers, beating them in the finale 4-3 Sunday. They did not, however, escape the game without further damage as Stephen Pryor was forced to leave with a strained right lat.
After two rough starts, Brandon Maurer allowed two runs over six innings on Sunday for his first career win. (AP)
On the good-news front, Brandon Maurer turned in a much needed strong performance, throwing six innings and giving up just two earned runs. This was much closer to the Brandon Maurer we saw in spring training. Pitching coach Carl Willis told me earlier in the week that he hoped Maurer would let go a little and just follow the catcher in this game. He believed one of the problems was that Maurer was too intense on the mound and that over-thinking situations was getting in his way.
"To be honest, the game plan was just to throw my game and not really look too much into hot zones and cold zones for hitters," Maurer said after the game. "Get back to the basics."
Maurer also spoke of a slight mechanical fix he had made that appeared to work as his command was much better. Another key to his success was that he stuck mainly with his strengths, throwing mostly his fastball and slider and backing off his secondary pitches. He didn't need them. He was able to generate swinging strikes with his fastball and slider, something that no doubt will give him confidence going forward.
The icing on the cake on what was a good day for him was that it was his father's birthday. Needless to say there is a game ball that his homeward bound.
A couple of other quick notes before I call it a day: Michael Morse is scheduled to come in on the off day for treatment on his finger. From the sounds of things he is looking at a return by the end of the week. Eric Wedge was optimistic that Franklin Gutierrez should be ready to play Tuesday, which will be the opener of what will be a tough series. If you are a fan of pitching it might not be a bad idea to come out to the park with Aaron Harang and Doug Fister going Tuesday, Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer Wednesday, and Hisashi Iwakuma and Justin Verlander on Thursday.