Six levels, six great performances

The Seattle Mariners are winning in the majors in large part because of the quality of their starting rotation. The quality extends throughout the organization as well. On Tuesday, every starting pitcher down on the farm won their game, and all are 23 or younger.


The Seattle Mariners organization followed the example shown by Gil Meche in his outing against Oakland on Tuesday, as each starter did what he could to get their team a victory.

Meche held the A's to five hits and one run over seven innings. However, The bullpen couldn't do their part, giving up two runs and the game to the A's in the bottom of the 11th.

On the other hand, the Mariners picked up wins at every minor-league level with their starters leading the way.

In AAA-Tacoma, Rett Johnson continued his tremendous season with six innings of shutout baseball. Johnson (2-1 at Tacoma, 8-3 overall) gave up two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.

Since joining the Rainiers, the 23-year-old right-hander has given up a scant, one earned run in three starts spanning 19 innings. His ERA, including his time at AA-San Antonio, stands at 2.56.

Even without Johnson, the San Antonio Missions rotation continues to keep them at the top of the Texas League.

Travis Blackley became just the third pitcher throughout the double-A level to reach 10 wins with five shutout innings.

The Australian native allowed less than two runs for the 11th time in his 17 starts. He lowered his ERA to 2.30.

He will play for the World Team in the Futures Game during the MLB All-Star Weekend. Fellow rotation standout Clint Nageotte will join in him in Chicago as a pitcher on the USA Team. The game will be broadcast live at 2:30 p.m. PDT on ESPN2.

Unlike the top-two, minor-league levels, High-A Inland Empire didn't shut out its opponent, but left-hander Troy Cate put together seven strong innings to pick up his fourth win on the season.

Cate, who also has a victory in a spot start for AAA-Tacoma, ranks in the California League top-10 in ERA (3.61), strikeouts (84) and losses (8).

Losses? How does a pitcher with such impressive stats rank third in the league in losses? Because the Inland Empire offense ranks ninth in the league in runs scored on the season.

The offense has only lately awoke with two recent outbursts of 11 and 17 runs in support of Cate.

The 66ers are now only 2.5 games behind South Division leader Lake Elsinore.

The Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers reside in last place in the Midwest League, but more performances like Tanner Watson's on Tuesday would help turn around their second-half fortunes.

Watson, 20, pitched into the sixth inning for his third win. He has a 1.96 ERA in his last six starts.

The amazing pitching rolled right on down to lowest rung of the Mariners organization in action on Tuesday.

Short-season Everett pitcher Randall Frye hurled five innings without giving up an earned run for his second win without a loss.

The 6-5 right-hander lowered his already anemic ERA to 1.65 and raised his strikeout total to 18 in 16 1/3 innings.

The Mariners' Arizona League team had an off day, but seven great performances might be asking too much.

Tuesday's pitching line scores:

Seattle              ip h er bb so
 Meche               7  5  1  3   2
Tacoma (AAA)
 Johnson (2-1)   6  2  0  1   8
San Antonio (AA)
 Blackley (10-3)  5  3  0  2   4
Inland Empire (A)
 Cate (4-8)         7  9  3  1   3
Wisconsin (A)
 Watson (3-4)   5+ 7  2  4   2
Everett (SS-A)
 Frye (2-0)          5  2  0  3   5

James is a senior at Central Washington University who will be interning for this summer. He welcomes your feedback at

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories