Let's try Jeff Weaver at first base

Well, why not? He's big and can't be much worse than Richie Sexson at the plate. Pitchers get to bat during this road trip to National League parks.
Well, why not? He's big and can't be much worse than Richie Sexson at the plate. Pitchers get to bat during this road trip to National League parks.

A week ago it was supposed in this space that the Seattle Mariners could go a long way toward holding the fan base by busting out five or six wins during a seven-game home stand against Texas and Baltimore. For the first time anybody can remember, our call was exactly right: The M's won five and a half games, losing the decisive half of the Wednesday, June 6, matinee. After forging a 4-0 lead halfway through the game, the Orioles eventually won 9-5. The fan base obliged, with nearly 30,000 showing up for the series finale. During the first few innings, they saw precisely why the M's have been winning: a batting order that hits not so much like an American League team as an A.L. all-star team. During the latter half, fans saw why the M's still lose nearly half the time: starting pitching that gives up big innings. This is particularly distressing given that the starters in question are the staff's most valued specimens: righty Felix Hernandez, hammered since he came back from the disabled list a fortnight ago; lefty Jarrod Washburn, who breezed through four innings Wednesday then couldn't get out of either his own way or the fifth inning, when Baltimore put up five. Typically one would expect the marquee guys to pitch victories more often than not. But Lefty and Righty are 5-5 and 3-3, respectively, if not respectably. The staff really has no ace right now, though Miguel Batista is 6-4 – albeit with an earned-run average of 5.43 – as a series in San Diego starts today. Yeah, but big pitching helps is said to be on the way. It happens Saturday, when - cue the calliope - Jeff Weaver returns. OK, so it's not big pitching, but at least he's tall. Then again, so is Sigourney Weaver, who, come to think, might actually not do any worse than bereft Jeff's 0-6, 14.32 ERA. In a perverse sense, fans might hope (as though hope is even required) that Weaver gets beaten up early and it's his final appearance as a Mariner. That would allow bringing back Ryan Feierabend, who was packed back to Tacoma after winning his recent start. The M's play the next nine in National League parks, meaning that pitchers hit, or at least try to. Seattle has a surplus of off-the-bench batters for what is expected to be frequent pinch-hitting opportunities. Indeed, the team batting average could be pushing .300 if a certain first baseman wasn't stuck at .197. The M's can send out a decent-fielding starting line-up that is hitting .296 through June 7. Instead, the regulars include Richie Sexson at first, with Ben Broussard and his .274 average on the bench. With Sexson going 0-4 every other night, the position starters' average drops to .286. So the M's "big" problems are its biggest guys. Unfortunately, Weaver and Sexson are so highly (not to say "bigly") paid that managers apparently feel compelled to use them. Even if Weaver gives up six runs through five innings Saturday, the bosses will say he's showing progress after his lengthy layoff. As for Sexson, the broadcast staffers have become his ongoing advocates, praising him profusely whenever he flies out near the warning track instead of fanning. Anyway, emboldened by our prescient call last week, we offer another prediction: Weaver actually will last nine innings Saturday and, even though he gives up his requisite 14 runs, the M's win 15-14. How? Weaver ("Big Jeffie," as he'll be known in upcoming media promotions) becomes the first pitcher to hit four home runs in a game. By Sunday he'll be the M's everyday first-baseman.


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