5-2! Without being close to full strength. Mind you, nobody's really at full strength right now, but it's something to put up that kind of week when you're short your best position player and your closer's just getting stretched out. Forget the blown save. I know we could be 6-1, but that shit happens. What matters is that, for the most part, the M's have played really solid, really sound, really effective baseball, all without their most identifiable player. A pessimist would look at Chavez and Balentien's numbers and say that Ichiro isn't going to make the team play any better than it has when he comes back, but then we've already got five wins that no one can take away, and it's nice to know that this is a roster capable of coming together in the face of mad adversity. And besides, when you're 5-2 with the best run prevention in the AL, it's not so much about improving as sustaining.
It's funny the way this weekend worked out. RRS needed picking up, so the offense and the bullpen came through. Felix needed picking up, so the offense and the bullpen came through. Then the offense needed picking up, so Bedard came through. It's one of those weekends that tempts you to declare that this team is greater than the sum of its parts, that it just meshes in a way that makes it seem special, and though I don't tend to buy into that kind of stuff, it's not like the evident truth is any less flattering - this team is capable in all facets, such that it doesn't have to rely on any particular strength to shoulder the load. Yes, run prevention is going to be key, but giving up a couple runs isn't going to be a crippler. Not anymore.
Unlike last season, Lowe says his fellow pitchers also believe they can give up some runs without it resulting in an automatic loss.
"They don't stop,'' he said of the hitters. "We got that feeling down there (in the bullpen) just watching it. We were down two in the eighth and we had confidence they were going to come around."
It's early. The six divisions in baseball are currently led by us, the Marlins, the Padres, the Blue Jays, the Cardinals, and the Tigers. Shit's going to change, and it's going to change an awful lot. But realistically speaking, I don't know that this team could've started out much better. I was afraid that I'd have to force a little enthusiasm at the home opener on Tuesday, but after this week - and, most notably, after today - that's no longer a worry. Sweep me up, Mariners. I think I'm ready for you.
- Erik Bedard: 187 pitches, 23 swinging strikes. That's 12.2% over two starts, compared to 11.2% in his big 2007 with Baltimore and 8.9% in 2008. He didn't miss double-digit bats in back-to-back games all last season. Throw in a 67% strike rate and that's all the convincing I need - the man is back. Erik Bedard looks like an ace-level pitcher again, and until/unless his body stops cooperating, we're going to be in for a treat.
- David Aardsma hasn't figured out the strike zone yet
- Neither has RRS
- Neither has our offense
- The two groundballs Felix got on Saturday were the fewest he's ever recorded in a start. The twelve fly balls Felix got on Saturday tied for the most he's ever recorded in a start. As an act of mental preservation I'm going to blame his ankle, which he says was still bothering him a little bit.
- Endy Chavez is batting .379. It's obviously not going to stay anywhere close to that high for the rest of the year, but after an offseason of widespread discomfort over having him in the lineup, how badly did he need that kind of week?
- Jakubauskas' curve has an unthinkable amount of break to it, but he can't control it for beans. Kelley's slider, meanwhile, has less movement, but seems like way more of a strength. The key for Kelley is going to be flashing something he can use against lefties; he threw 16 pitches against them the other day and stuck with his fastball and slider.