SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners' staff was worn so thin by the club's breathtaking three-game comeback in the divisional series against the New York Yankees that manager Lou Piniella was forced yesterday to name a 22-year-old prospect to start Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Right-hander Bob Wolcott, who wasn't even on the club's 40-man roster when the Mariners began preparing for the 1995 season, replaced veteran utility man Warren Newson on the Seattle playoff roster and will face Indians ace Dennis Martinez tonight at the Kingdome.
Piniella had only a couple of other options. He could have pulled veteran Tim Belcher out of the bullpen and pitched him on short rest, or brought right-hander Chris Bosio back short after a rocky start in Game 4.
He chose, instead, to go with Wolcott, who was 3-2 with a 4.42 ERA in six starts for the Mariners after coming up to the major leagues on Aug. 17. Belcher will face former Dodgers teammate Orel Hershiser in Game 2.
The strange pitching situation makes the Mariners an even bigger long shot in the best-of-seven series. They have to be physically and emotionally drained after their dramatic comeback against the Yankees, and they must face the best team in baseball with their top starter -- odds-on Cy Young Award favorite Randy Johnson -- on the shelf until Game 3 in Cleveland.
Nevertheless, Piniella told a large crowd at a downtown Mariners rally yesterday that the club would surprise the Indians and advance to the World Series for the first time in the history of the Seattle franchise.
"Believe me, Cleveland doesn't know what it's getting itself into," Piniella said.
Hot and not
Which Indians and Mariners were hot in the divisional playoffs and which were not:
Eddie Murray (5-for-13, HR, 3 RBIs)
Paul Sorrento (3-for-10)
Albert Belle (3-for-11, HR, 3 RBIs)
Orel Hershiser (1-0, 0 ER in 7 1/3 IP)
Charles Nagy (1-0, 1 ER in 7 IP)
Edgar Martinez (12-for-21, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs)
Jay Buhner (11-for-24, HR, 3 RBIs)
Tino Martinez (9-for-22, HR, 5 RBIs)
Ken Griffey (9-for-23, 5 HRs, 7 RBIs)
1% Randy Johnson (2-0, 2.70, 16 K's)
Manny Ramirez (0-for-12)
Jim Thome (2-for-13, 6 K's)
Kenny Lofton (2-for-13)
Omar Vizquel (2-for-12)
Julian Tavarez (2 ER in 2 2/3 IP)
Dan Wilson (2-for-17, 6 K's)
Mike Blowers (3-for-18, 7 K's)
Vince Coleman (5-for-23)
Bobby Ayala (4 ER in 2/3 IP)
+ Chris Bosio (9 ER in 7 2/3 IP)