ARLINGTON, Texas – Lucas Luetge’s major league debut this season came when he faced Oakland’s Josh Reddick – and struck him out with three pitches.
Some young pitchers would have trouble living up to that kind of start, but the Seattle Mariners’ Rule 5 left-hander isn’t one of them.
In 18 appearances this season, he has yet to allow an earned run, and the opposition is hitting .179 against him. Is Luetge aware of his scoreless streak?
“Sure. People call me or ask me, text me, and I talk about it,” Luetge said. “I’m proud of it, but it’s only 11 innings. I mean, c’mon.”
Actually, it’s 11 innings, and Luetge has often faced only one batter in an appearance. In each of his past three outings, he has been asked to get one out and retired the only man he faced.
“Every hitter is different, and when I’m warming up, (bullpen coach) Jaime Navarro will tell me who’s coming up, who I might be facing,” Luetge said. “He might say ‘This guy won’t swing at a first pitch’ or tell me what the guy’s weakness is.
“When I go to the mound, I have a plan. I know what I do best, what feels good that day in the ’pen.”
A 25-year-old rookie who had never pitched above the Double-A level until this year, Luetge knows himself.
“My best pitch is my slider, and if it’s not there, I’ll throw a fastball,” he said. “You play catch with your fastball every day. The arm slot always feels natural. So you might throw a fastball, get the feel for the arm slot and go right back and find the slider.”
And when he doesn’t have his best stuff?
“You have to trick yourself, tell yourself you’ll find it – and then hope the guy lines out to left field,” Luetge said.
ICHIRO’S DAY OFF
And in the 53rd game, he sat.
After starting each of Seattle’s first 52 games – all of them in right field, all of them batting third – Ichiro Suzuki was not in the lineup Wednesday.
Manager Eric Wedge had talked about giving his 38-year-old a day off, and by doing it Wednesday he got a two-for-one with today’s scheduled off day.
Could it mean Ichiro won’t bat third when he next plays?
“He’ll play Friday,” Wedge said. “I don’t know where, because I haven’t made the lineup out yet.”
For the Mariners, it’s been a long month: 29 games in May, including 20 in the past 20 days, with the only scheduled off day used to travel from Seattle to New York.
DELABAR SENT DOWN
After the Mariners’ 21-8 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, the team optioned right-handed reliever Steve Delabar to Tacoma.
While no corresponding move was made, it appears likely that right-hander Stephen Pryor will join the Mariners on Friday in Chicago when they open a three-game series there.
Pryor, 22, began the season in Double-A, where he was 1-0 with seven saves and a 1.13 earned-run average in 11 appearances. Since being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma, Pryor has appeared in nine games and pitched 12 innings without allowing a run and going 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
Delabar, 28, has appeared in 25 games for Seattle this year, going 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA. He has allowed seven home runs in 24 innings.
Good news/bad news stat of the day: First baseman Justin Smoak hit .299 over a span of 17 games to pull his batting average to .220. The bad news? Smoak’s career average is .225. … With the bases loaded, Dustin Ackley is an astonishing 8-for-10 in his career with 14 RBI.
The Mariners have today off before opening a three-game series Friday in Chicago against the White Sox.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue