- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

CLEVELAND The Seattle Mariners won 116 games this season by doing the little things right advancing runners, making key defensive plays and closing out games with baseball's best bullpen.
So even when they came to bat in the seventh inning yesterday at Jacobs Field, trailing the Cleveland Indians 1-0 and nine outs away from an unceremonious conclusion to their magic season, the Mariners weren't about to change the way they play the game.
"Our club has been relaxed all year," manager Lou Piniella said. "It's a veteran ballclub. We bounced back from adversity this summer many times. We're not going to tense up, we're not going to lose because of the pressure."
The events of that seventh inning were a microcosm of Seattle's season: a walk, a groundball single, a walk, a fielder's choice, a sacrifice fly and two more seeing-eye singles including the game-winner by rookie sensation Ichiro Suzuki.
Just like that, the Mariners had the lead, Piniella turned the game over to his bullpen and watched his team add three insurance runs to close out an impressive 6-2 victory in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The Mariners then flew home for today's decisive Game 5 at Safeco Field at 4:20 p.m.
"I definitely didn't want to take the plane ride to Seattle, and I don't think anybody else did," Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel said. "But that's the way things worked out, and that's what it came down to today. We had six real good innings, and all of a sudden things started happening to us and we ended up getting beat."
What began as a brisk pitchers' duel between Seattle's Freddy Garcia and Cleveland's Bartolo Colon following a 2-hour, 20-minute rain delay turned into a tense, deliberate playoff contest in the seventh inning, with the crowd of 45,025 hanging on every pitch.
The Indians led by virtue of Juan Gonzalez's second-inning homer off Garcia and Colon's six scoreless innings. But Colon, who pitched eight shutout innings to win Game 1, finally succumbed in the seventh, walking John Olerud on a borderline 3-2 fastball, then giving up a single through the left-side hole to Stan Javier.
Perhaps rattled by Seattle's sudden rally, Colon tried to pick Olerud off second base and fired the ball into center field for an error, then walked Mike Cameron on five pitches to load the bases with nobody out.
Pinch-hitter Al Martin hit a sharp grounder to first, and Jim Thome fired home to record the first out, but David Bell sent a fly down the left-field line that was deep enough to score Javier from third with the tying run while bringing Ichiro to the plate with a chance to give the Mariners the lead.
With left-hander Ricardo Rincon and righty Danys Baez warm in the bullpen, Manuel came to the mound to check on Colon. The young hurler convinced his manager to keep him in the game against Ichiro, but he fell behind 1-0 and then watched the likely AL Rookie of the Year slap a two-hopper between first and second base for an RBI single and eventual game-winning hit.
"The game was already tied, and my at-bat was just like the regular season," said Ichiro, who led the league with a .350 batting average this season and is now 9-for-16 in this series. "I felt if the pitch was one I could hit, I wanted to hit it. I was just as normal as possible."
For good measure, Mark McLemore followed with a run-scoring single through the same right-side hole as Ichiro. Cameron doubled in a run in the eighth, and Edgar Martinez put a definitive stamp on Seattle's win by crushing a 458-foot, two-run homer down the left-field line in the ninth.
The Mariners' top trio of relievers (setup men Jeff Nelson and Arthur Rhodes and closer Kazuhiro Sasaki) followed up Garcia's solid performance with 21/3 combined scoreless innings, setting up today's deciding game. In a rematch of veteran left-handers from Game 2, Seattle's Jamie Moyer (who gave up one run in six innings) will face Cleveland's Chuck Finley (who was blasted for five runs in 41/3 innings) in an afternoon game at Safeco Field following last night's cross-country flight.
"Sleep means nothing at this point." Finley said.

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