28 batters faced
4 fly balls (2 of them infield pop-ups)
3 line drives
10 swinging strikes
You don't need mesmerizing PITCHf/x data to know that, for the first time since the first week of the season, King Felix was on top of his game. Completely and utterly on top of his game. When the command is there, everything else seems to fall into place, and on a day like this Shaun Marcum had to be nearly perfect to keep from being tagged with an L. Since I was at work I didn't get to watch the video, but even just having followed along animated pitch after animated pitch, this still feels like the most satisfying Felix Day we've had in a good long while. I can't tell you how badly I needed him to have a start like this, a start where he reminds us of what he's supposed to look like in his prime. Starts like this bring hope. And while it may not seem like it sometimes, hope is something of which I'm rather fond.
Matter of fact, all kinds of things went well today. Felix stomped all over Team Wonderbread while barely breaking a sweat. He was then saved from a high pitch count by an annoying but minor sore calf. Adrian Beltre did something that wasn't unlucky. Ichiro ran like a crazy person. JJ finally found a reason to go back on the DL and get himself right. And Morrow came in and once again looked terrific, near-miss be damned. One could argue that the worst thing to come out of this game is that the Mariners won - what with the Strasburg race and all - and when that's really all you have listed under "con", you know it was a pretty good ballgame.*
For whatever it's worth, there was a lot of concern expressed when Morrow nailed down the save, as the consensus is that this makes him even less likely to become a starter than before. But while I sympathize, I don't think one save (or a string of saves, should JJ be out for a little while) is going to change the Mariners' plans, not when they already had a good idea of what Morrow can do in the later innings coming in. They've known for a little while now that he's crazyinsane and perfectly capable of recording huge outs coming out of the bullpen. No matter how obsessed this team is with labels and roles, a save or three aren't going to change their minds. If they wanted to make him a starter down the road 24 hours ago, I think they'll still want to make him a starter down the road after today.
Now, whether or not they actually do want to make him a starter down the road is up in the air. There sure aren't many indications that that's the plan, and in the event that they decide to keep him in the bullpen forever, I won't be one to mince words. But speaking strictly in terms of today's game, I don't think Morrow's save made a difference. Be happy. Enjoy it. He's a heck of a pitcher. While I know it's hard, this is one of those times when you should try not to let (justifiably) pervasive cynicism spoil one of the only bright spots of the season. You'll kick yourself if you don't.
Biggest Contribution: King Felix, +45.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Kenji Johjima, -31.0%
Most Important AB: Ibanez single, +32.6%
Most Important Pitch: Wells strikeout, +12.3%; Inglett walk, -12.3%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +68.5%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -18.5%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
(What is this chart?)
I take off early tomorrow morning, so expect posting to be light through Monday. Hope to see many of you at the gathering.