PEORIA, Ariz. -- Only one thing could have been better about Jarrod Washburn's performance Monday afternoon against the White Sox -- the timing. The Mariners left-hander held the Sox to three singles over seven scoreless innings in Seattle's 3-1 Cactus League victory at Peoria Stadium, but he couldn't feel quite as good about it as he would if this had happened, say, in Baltimore on April 4 in his first regular-season start.
After watching his pitchers give up 34 hits in the past two games, manager John McLaren was thrilled to receive such a clean, crisp outing from Washburn and relievers Mark Lowe and Eric O'Flaherty. His postgame flattery started with Washburn. "Wash was great today," he said, crediting a mechanical correction the pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre have worked on the past few days. "Mel and he worked on staying back, not drifting, and [Washburn] took it right into the game. That was as good as I've ever seen him." "It was a flip-flop from his previous outing, when he needed 87 pitches to get 10 outs. The between-starts work really payed off. "I'm hard-headed and I get real excited and emotional during games," Washburn said. "I have a lot of adrenaline and sometimes it's hard to hold me back. Today's a perfect example of why I have to [be held back]. "My back hurt like crazy. I could barely move, so I couldn't throw hard, couldn't jump off the mound, couldn't try to throw too hard. I stayed fluid and stayed within my mechanics and tried to concentrate on throwing a quality pitch." Washburn, who said he apparently hurt his back while sleeping, induced double-play grounders following leadoff singles in the first and second innings and retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. "All of my pitches were working and I was able to gain confidence throwing different things in different counts, and reassure yourself you can still do it," he said. "It doesn't hurt to go into the season with that confidence behind you. Too bad it happened here." He said his next outing would be Saturday night in Las Vegas against the Cubs.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.