Mum is still the Seattle Mariners’ word about Tuesday’s starting pitcher.
But all signs are pointing to Mike Montgomery getting his major-league debut and facing the New York Yankees in place of the injured James Paxton.
Manager Lloyd McClendon was still not ready or willing before Sunday’s marathon 6-3 loss to Cleveland to announce who will take the first rotation turn since his young No. 3 starter went on the disabled list with a strained left middle finger. Paxton is on a two-week shutdown from all throwing.
But the 25-year-old Montgomery, the left-hander Seattle acquired at the end of spring training from Tampa Bay in the trade of Erasmo Ramirez, was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday for Triple-A Tacoma.
McClendon met with general manager Jack Zduriencik in the manager’s clubhouse office until about 10:45 a.m. Sunday. When asked about Montgomery mysteriously missing his Tacoma start, McClendon went Sergeant Schultz, the TV character whose famous line was, “I know nothing.”
“I’ve got my own problems here, so I don’t know why he was scratched from his start,” McClendon said.
“We are still working on some things (about Tuesday’s starter for Paxton). Spoke to Jack this morning. Just not definite.”
Montgomery was a 2008 compensation pick by Kansas City. He has spent his entire professional career in the minors. He is 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts with Tacoma this season. He has allowed 47 hits in 53 innings, with 47 strikeouts, 15 walks and 1.17 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched.
He was 10-5 with a 4.29 ERA last season as a starter for the Tampa Bay’s Triple-A team in Durham.
IWAKUMA’S GOAL: BULLPEN SESSION BY
Injured No. 2 starter Hisashi Iwakuma, on the DL with a strained right lat, took a rest day Saturday from his throwing regimen in the long rehabilitation journey towards rejoining the rotation. McClendon said the right-hander has a plan to throw off flat ground all this coming week in the hopes of a bullpen session by the weekend.
The manager said the plan includes Iwakuma joining the Mariners on their road trip to Cleveland, Houston and San Francisco June 9-16.
The Mariners couldn’t get this far in an earlier attempt at rehabilitation, so this is progress. Iwakuma’s been out since April 24, 35 games ago.
MORRISON OWNS UP
Forgotten among all that went on in Sunday’s 12-inning marathon, when Cleveland had 16 hits but just three runs until Dominic Leone’s meltdown in the final frame and Seattle went from the sixth to 10th innings without a baserunner, was Logan Morrison’s especially eventful day at first base.
After Cleveland had trimmed Seattle’s lead to 3-1 in the sixth on Ryan Raburn’s home run, Morrison charged to field Mike Aviles’ sacrifice-bunt attempt near the mound. Even though runner Brandon Moss was already sliding into third base, Morrison attempted to throw him out — presumably on the orders of catcher Welington Castillo (the catcher usually makes those calls). Moss was easily safe, and the Indians had the bases loaded with no outs.
Michael Bourn singled home Moss to make it 3-2. Then Morrison grabbed Jose Ramirez’s ground ball to his left, registering the out at first and gunning down a sliding Yan Gomes at home for an unusual, nifty double play.
“The ball took me to the bag. And I knew the catcher (Gomes) was running,” Morrison said of his alert play.
But then in the fateful 12th he allowed a hard grounder by No. 9 hitter Jose Ramirez to go off his glove into foul ground down the right-field line. The resulting double fueled Cleveland’s three-run rally to win.
“I’ve got to make that play,” said Morrison, who was also 1 for 4 at the plate and is now batting .240. “I’m on the line there for a reason: No doubles. And they got a double.”
J.A. Happ was effective for his five innings — eight hits and a walk, but just two runs allowed. He was continually behind in the count, however, and threw 101 pitches in five laborious innings. That was the starting reason why the Mariners had to use eight pitchers in all, finally running out and having to stick with the erratic Leone throughout the 12th. “Too many 2-0 counts,” said Happ (3-1, 3.70 ERA), who still has just one win and five no-decisions since April 28. The home run he allowed Sunday, by Ryan Raburn was on a, yes, 2-0 pitch. … Seattle’s high-wire closer lowered his ERA to 6.75 with a typical Fernando Rodney Experience, though this one was in a non-save situation. Rodney allowed a double to Moss, who went 4 for 5, in the ninth and then walked Gomes with one out. But Rodney got Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out and Bourn to line out so the game stayed tied into extra innings.
The New York Yankees come to Safeco Field next for a three-game series, starting at 7:10 p.m. Monday. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91 ERA) will make his 17th career start versus the Yanks, facing righty Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.36).