Notes: Meche resists change
Righty recovers from rough stretch while maintaining approach
MINNEAPOLIS -- Gil Meche once figured the only way to change his luck was to, well, make a change in himself.
Mechanical flaw, mental approach or a hodgepodge of the two, all of it was fair game to modification when the Mariners right-hander fell into a slump.
But when Meche hit a rough patch in April -- with his ERA at 6.46 after three starts -- he resisted change, instead remembering something he and pitching coach Rafael Chaves discussed in Spring Training.
"He said that the times I've pitched good and then, all of a sudden have a bad game, I'd get into a mode where I wanted to change things," Meche said. "This year, I have been more mechanically sound, not trying to do something different."
The results have been difficult to ignore, as the 27-year-old has developed into the Mariners' hottest pitcher after winning three of his last four starts to improve to 4-3 with a 4.40 ERA.
Meche, who struck out a season-high 10 batters in Seattle's 2-0 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, has allowed three earned runs or less in six of his last seven starts.
In that blissful span, Meche has located his fastball well, spotted his curveball and, more than anything, pumped the zone with plenty of strikes.
Some feel that Meche, who has battled injuries and inconsistency for much of his time in Seattle, is at a place in his career where everything is falling into place.
"Gil's got a lot of talent," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He's spent a lot of time here, even before I got here, trying to harness that. There are a lot of things you can do, but it's going to take the time it's going to take. There are no shortcuts."
Like making a change at the first sign of trouble, a shortcut Meche isn't likely to make again unless it's completely warranted.
"I've heard people say I have the stuff to pitch successful. ... I know that," Meche said. "People don't have to tell me that. It's a matter of going out there and doing it. I've had good stretches at times and I've struggled at times.
"I just feel real good throwing the baseball right now."
New digs for the Twins: The start of Friday's game was pushed back 22 minutes to accommodate an on-field ceremony in which Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty signed a bill to finance the 42,000-seat stadium that passed legislation last week.
The new open-air facility is scheduled to open in 2010, which means the Twins' days of playing in the Metrodome are numbered.
Not that you will catch Eddie Guardado -- who played for the Twins for 11 seasons -- getting too misty-eyed or nostalgic about the Metrodome.
"I had a good career here and I had some fun here," Guardado said. "When you have something good going at a place you've played for a long time, there's memories. But I don't have a problem with it."
Guardado said the new stadium is long overdue.
"They needed it," said Guardado, looking around the cramped visiting clubhouse. "They have been going at it for a while. A new park brings the fans in. ... It brings excitement to the city. I think it's good for the organization."
Clean cut: There wasn't a new player in the Mariners' clubhouse on Friday, though it certainly looked like it from afar.
Rookie reliever Sean Green showed up sporting a freshly shaven head, a rapid departure from the curls the right-handed sported as recently as Thursday.
So what happened?
"I was going to get a haircut and I got a better offer," Green said, noting that he took his teammates up on a bet to shave his head -- for an undisclosed monetary figure, of course.
Mariners log: When Seattle was shut out on Thursday by Baltimore, it marked the sixth time the team has been blanked this season. The Mariners are tied with the Twins and Chicago Cubs for the most times being shut out. ... Seattle is averaging six runs per game over its last seven games after averaging 4.36 runs a game over its first 42 games. ... The Mariners are in the midst of 16 consecutive games without a day off.
On deck: The Mariners continue their three-game series Saturday with Jamie Moyer (2-4, 3.66 ERA) taking the mound at 4:10 p.m. PT. He'll be opposed by Minnesota's Boof Bonser (0-0, 1.50 ERA).
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.