- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

SEATTLE (AP) Maybe the Seattle Mariners should petition the American League to let them play all their games away from home the Mariners are that comfortable on the road.
The Mariners return home tonight to play the Toronto Blue Jays after their second straight successful trip. After sweeping a 10-game stretch last month, the Mariners went 4-2 at Chicago and New York taking all three games at Yankee Stadium.
"They have a veteran team, and veteran players have a tendency to play better when they're on the road because they know what they've been through before," said Sal Butera, advance scout for Toronto.
When the Mariners tied the major league record with 116 victories last season, they set an American League mark with 59 road victories. The Mariners are 73-24 on the road since the start of 2001.
On their first road trip this season, they were 10-0 in Anaheim, Texas and Oakland, becoming just the sixth modern team to have a perfect trip of at least 10 games.
"I've never seen somebody win 10 in a row on the road. It's amazing," Mariners second baseman Bret Boone said. "You just don't think about it, and keep doing it."
On the just-completed trip, Seattle lost the first two games to the Chicago White Sox, before winning the series finale and sweeping the Yankees.
That left them with a best-in-baseball 14-2 road record. Seattle is 22-9 overall, only 8-7 at Safeco.
"We have to start playing better at home," manager Lou Piniella said.
The Mariners are 8-1 in New York the past two regular seasons.
"They're not awed by going to Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park or places like that," Butera said. "When you have a measure of success, you go into an [opponents] park expecting to win."
General manager Pat Gillick built his team around Safeco, a pitching-friendly ballpark where the Mariners moved from the Kingdome in the middle of the 1999 season.
Since then, he has brought in such veterans as Ichiro Suzuki of Japan American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2001 Mike Cameron and Mark McLemore for the outfield and Ruben Sierra as a designated hitter-outfielder.
He also added Boone, first baseman John Olerud, and third baseman Jeff Cirillo as well as closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson for Seattle's bullpen.
"I just think that we're a good team and it doesn't matter where we're playing," Boone said. "We play like we do every night. I think we're a good home team, too. Safeco Field is not as good a hitter's park, but we still play awful well here."
Olerud won a Gold Glove in 2000, and Cameron in center and Suzuki in right both won Gold Gloves last season. The Mariners led the AL in fielding (.986) last season.
"You play with defense," Piniella said. "This club basically can play just about anywhere. It can play on any field. Whether it's Astroturf or grass or if the ballpark's big or small."
If it weren't for the Yankees, the Mariners probably would have made it to their first World Series by now. They lost to New York in six games in the 2000 AL Championship Series and then in five in the 2001 ALCS.
Because of their 116-46 record last season, the Mariners are a bigger target when teams come to Safeco, Piniella said. The visiting Yankees took two of three from the Mariners in April.
"I think when people come to Seattle now, they're ready to play," Piniella said.
Butera is impressed with the Mariners everywhere.
"They're a team that's geared for really any ballpark," he said. "They can beat you with power, with speed and they have good pitching, a variety of types of pitching. So they're a very multitalented team, a formidable challenge."


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