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World Series 2001
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10/15/2001 10:30 PM ET
Moyer is Seattle's go-to guy
By Carrie Muskat
MLB.com
Jamie Moyer has been terrific for Seattle in his two ALDS starts.
SEATTLE -- No one would confuse Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson in terms of style.

Johnson, the hard-throwing Arizona Diamondbacks hurler, can throw underhand harder than Moyer throws his fastball.

But the two pitchers do have something in common other than being left-handed and in the playoffs. Seattle's Jeff Nelson can see it.

"He's kind of a Randy Johnson-type in that he throws -- well, Randy throws 98 miles an hour and he's a bulldog out there," Nelson said of Moyer. "Maybe Jamie throws 83 miles an hour but he's a bulldog and has the same mentality. When you need a game, he's the guy to go to."

The Mariners needed a win Monday and Moyer was the "perfect guy for the job," Nelson said. The lefty gave up just one run over six innings to lift Seattle to a 3-1 victory over Cleveland and clinch the American League Division Series.

Once again, the slender left-hander fooled the Indians with his gentle, yet nasty pitches pitches on the corners. He struck out six, including the Indians' big three, Juan Gonzalez, Ellis Burks and Jim Thome, all on called third strikes, in the fourth.

"For some reason, in the fourth inning I got a second wind," Moyer said. "I went out to the mound and I almost felt like we had scored a couple of runs in the bottom half of the inning and that was kind of the energy I had when I went out to the mound. I thought I made some pretty decent pitches and they chose not to swing."

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Indians Manager Charlie Manuel made a few comments to home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck about the location. Manuel wouldn't use that as an excuse.

"As a manager, I don't want to complain about strike zones and things like that," Manuel said. "But I felt Moyer was definitely getting the ball down. I can't tell from the dugout where the ball is as far as in or out, but he was definitely getting the ball down and this was confusing our hitters.

"They were coming back [to the dugout] and they were just upset because they felt the balls were low," he said. "And I felt like that really helped Moyer as far as the way he pitches."

"I think the umpire played [the strike zone] to [Moyer's] advantage," Indians shortstop Omar Viquel said. "He was calling a lot of low pitches and that's [Moyer's] game. He fell in love with that pitch low and away and it was hurting for some players that are taller than me. It really hurt their game.

"It was tough. He called some pitches that could have been borderline," Vizquel said. "But once again, that's Jamie Moyer's game. Borderline pitches all the time."

"I think he established his zone," Thome said. "I think Hirschbeck might have been giving the ball a little away, but they established it and he stayed there. That's part of the game. As a pitcher when you can establish a zone in a certain area and stay on that area, it can be tough to hit and he did that. Moyer did a nice job of staying right there."

Moyer now is 4-0 against the Cleveland, including two wins in the ALDS. In the four games, he gave up just two earned runs over 26 innings.

"You know, Cleveland has some really good fastball hitters," Seattle Manager Lou Piniella said. "Unless you can throw the ball up there 93, 94, 95 miles an hour, you're going to have problems. But good fastball hitters invariably are a little more susceptible to the off-speed stuff. And Jamie exploited that exceptionally well."

Moyer, the oldest 20-game winner at 38, used the corners to confuse Cleveland. It worked.

"The only thing I can play to is just trying to make my pitches, whether they're off-speed or whether they're fastballs," he said in the postgame interview room, joined by his two sons, 10-year-old Dillon and 8-year-old Hutton.

"We tried," Thome said. "He just changes speeds really well and he really established his strike zone. He worked the umpire there and figured out how far he could go with his pitches and he just stayed right there."

Last year, Moyer was with the Mariners for the ALDS against Chicago, but did not pitch. He was not doing well at the end of the season. But while tuning up for the ALCS, he was hit on the knee by a line drive during batting practice and his 2000 season was over.

"It's exciting to be able to contribute," Moyer said. "I think the way we've played all year long, everyone contributed and everybody's continuing to contribute. It's great to be a key factor in that contribution."

Was this Moyer's first must-win game?

"I had a game like that in college once," Moyer said, laughing.

Now he has to prepare for the American League Championship Series. Moyer likely will start Game 3 for the Mariners next Saturday. He'll be as relaxed as he always is.

"I really tried to not put any more pressure on myself," Moyer said. "Today's outing was just like Game 2 or any other game in the course of the season. Again, you're in the playoffs and that's icing on the cake and it should be fun and that's the way I try to look at things and try to approach things."

Carrie Muskat is a regional writer for MLB.com based in Chicago.