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MARINERS ROOKIE RAISES QUESTION: `WHO’S FLEMING?’

SHARE MARINERS ROOKIE RAISES QUESTION: `WHO’S FLEMING?’

Dave Fleming's name has been showing up more frequently in newspapers around the country lately. Seattle wins nearly every time he pitches, and he's tied for the American League lead in victories.

One question remains: Who's Dave Fleming?"He knows how to pitch," Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said Thursday night after Fleming and the Mariners beat the Indians 10-3. "He located the ball well, and he threw to spots. He throws a cut fastball that breaks in on right-handed hitters. That gives them trouble."

Fleming (8-1) is a rookie left-hander who began making a name for himself when he helped pitch the University of Georgia to the College World Series title in 1990. He saved the deciding game, pitching three scoreless innings and earning a congratulatory trip to the White House.

He came up with the Mariners for two brief stints last year, then moved into their starting rotation this spring. After a shaky beginning - he allowed eight runs in his first start this season - he's won his next eight decisions.

"Fleming just cruises along," Seattle manager Bill Plummer said. "You look up and all of a sudden it's the sixth inning. He doesn't let anything affect him.

"I watched him in that first ballgame when he got ripped, and he was the same as he is now. His mound presence is one of his outstanding features."

Fleming was the beneficiary as Kevin Mitchell and Ken Griffey Jr. each hit two home runs - including Mitchell's first career grand slam.

The Mariners jumped on Cleveland starter Denis Boucher (1-1) immediately, loading the bases with none out in the first on two singles and a walk before Mitchell's blast made it 4-0.

In the second, Edgar Martinez hit an RBI single - one of his four hits - and Griffey added a two-run homer that made it 7-0.

Boucher lasted 1 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs and six hits.

Griffey hit another two-run shot in the seventh, his 12th of the season, and Mitchell followed with his fourth. Mitchell's five RBIs matched his career high.

The power surge was an encouraging sight for the Mariners, who have watched Mitchell struggle with a sore wrist this season after he hit 109 home runs over the past three years for San Francisco.

"That's the Mitch we expected to see," Plummer said.

Twins 15, Rangers 12

At Arlington, Texas, Minnesota's Chuck Knoblauch broke a tie with a ninth-inning single and hot-hitting Kirby Puckett followed with a two-run homer.

The 27 runs were the most ever scored in a Ranger game and the most in the majors this season. Minnesota finished with 14 hits and Texas had 16.

Puckett, who hit a grand slam and drove in five runs in an 11-3 victory over Toronto on Wednesday night, was 4 for 5.

Tigers 6, Yankees 2

At New York, Detroit's Mickey Tettleton and Lou Whitaker continued the home run barrage off Scott Sanderson.

Tettleton hit a two-run first-inning homer and Whitaker, who had three hits and two RBIs, added a solo shot in the third. They brought the total of homers off Sanderson (4-3) to 16 in 12 games.