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O'Malley's Mariners debut one to remember

September callup big Seattle fan as kid; plates deciding run

HOUSTON -- For Shawn O'Malley, who grew up as a huge Mariners fan in Kennewick, Wash., the chance to drive in the game-winning run in a three-hit night in his debut with Seattle in Wednesday's 8-3 win over the Astros was one thing.

But returning to the dugout to be approached and coached by hitting instructor Edgar Martinez, well, that was just the cherry on the top of a perfect night at Minute Maid Park.

"It's awesome, how things change when you get older," said O'Malley, a 27-year-old who signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners last winter and was one of four September callups who joined the team Tuesday. "It's like [I told Martinez], 'I used to look up to you when I was a little kid. Now I'm high-fiving you and you're telling me how to hit.' It was awesome."

O'Malley's three hits equaled the total he accumulated in 16 at-bats in 11 games with the Angels last year when he hit .188 with one RBI in his first big league shot as a September addition with the Halos.

The 5-foot-11 utility player went 3-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base after taking the field with the Mariners for the first time Wednesday, hitting ninth and playing center field.

"It was special," O'Malley said. "The first at-bat, I was a little nervous, but after I settled in, I felt pretty good. Luckily [Astros starter Scott Kazmir] threw me a changeup up that I saw well and could handle, and I pushed it to the right side and scored a run. That took some of the pressure off. I had a little anxiety at first, but after that, I realized it was just another game. Just see the ball and hit it."

O'Malley did that again a couple times, including a bloop single to right in the eighth that gave Seattle a 4-3 lead off of sidearmer Pat Neshek.

"It was a two-seamer he left up in the middle of the plate," said O'Malley, who was drafted by the Rays out of Southridge High School in Kennewick in 2006 and spent eight years in the Minors before getting his first taste of the big leagues last year. "I was looking for a pitch up that I could handle. Sometimes, it's good not to use your barrel when you get jammed. It happened to fall right in there and worked out good."

O'Malley's family will gather to see him play when he gets to Seattle after this road trip concludes in Oakland this weekend, but he knows they were watching him on television with pride as he made his debut.

"They love it," he said. "They grew up huge Mariners fans. The fact they got to see me in a Mariners uniform starting a game was probably surreal to them. I'm glad I could make it somewhat special."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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