52-80, Game Thoughts

Thoughts, in chronological order

Before the game

(1) This has all the makings of a really good pitcher's duel

(2) Any game where the Mariners pitch well is a pitcher's duel

(3) Pitcher's duels never work out the way we expect them to

Early in the game

(4) I write an article expressing how lucky we are that Felix Hernandez rarely gets hurt, and Alberto Callaspo leads off with a line drive at his face

(5) It says a lot that Felix can snare a line drive at his face and immediately laugh about it with his teammates

(6) Maybe laughing is the natural reaction. As much as we'd think more people would shiver in fear and generally just be really upset about being confronted by the irrelevance and brevity of life, nobody's going to catch a line drive and shake in his boots. Everyone will laugh. They'll laugh and be relieved

Less early in the game

(7) Felix kind of looks wild and out of sorts

(8) Dan Haren is holding up his end of the bargain because he looks absolutely terrific

(9) On the other hand, Mariners

(10) It is next to impossible to know how well a pitcher is actually pitching when he's facing the Mariners

(11) All right Dan Haren that's just about enough swinging strikes

Later in the game

(12) It took four innings, but Felix found his groove. Strikeout, groundout, strikeout. With his pitch count a little high, Felix isn't going to get as deep as we'd like, but now this - this is a duel

(13) Today, it's Ichiro who hits the obligatory grounder up the middle that allows one of the announcers to lament the tendency of pitchers to try to barehand the ball

(14) Adam Moore in a critical run-scoring situation against a master of his craft. He should get an RBI if he lasts more than three pitches

(15) Well he gets an RBI in my book

Later than that in the game

(16) Felix's breaking balls look spectacular. His slider and his curve. It seems like all of his strikeouts are coming on either breaking balls whiffed at or breaking balls watched

(17) This isn't the Felix that used to frustrate us so much

(18) Felix has pitched well enough that we should probably pull him before we take a lead. We've been trying to do that, right?

(19) Brandon League has a sub-3 ERA and he doesn't deserve it one bit

Last bit of the game

(20) Matt Tuiasosopo is a Major League pinch-runner like Tropicana Field is a Major League ballpark

(21) If the Mariners stay true to themselves, then putting men on the corners with one out should just set up the double play. I wonder who's next in our cast of characters

(22) Casey Kotchman. Indeed, the Mariners will stay true to themselves, just so long as the pitcher throws strikes

(23) No strikes

(24) I cannot believe Michael Saunders didn't strike out

(25) I cannot believe Adam Moore didn't strike out

(26) I cannot believe Josh Wilson didn't strike out

(27) I cannot believe the flyballing David Aardsma just generated a double play off the bat of the flyballing Mike Napoli

(28) The Angels deserved to lose a game like this

(29) I wish this game mattered

(30) Brandon League is second on the team in wins

-----

  • I wouldn't say Felix was on all game long. At the beginning, things were definitely something of a struggle, as he had trouble putting the ball where he wanted. There were glimpses, like the sinker that induced Jeff Mathis' double play and the slider that froze Torii Hunter and prompted a tip of the hat, but they were few and far between. Still, Felix headed into the fifth with four shutout innings under his belt, and that's when he turned it up. He'd strike out five and walk just one the rest of the way, keeping the Angels completely off balance with a pitch mix that didn't give them a chance. Felix whiffed eight over seven scoreless innings when he wasn't at his best.

  • In the second, Felix worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam. In the third, he worked around a runner on third with one out. In the seventh, he worked around a runner on second with one out. Situations like these have taken on a greater meaning than you'd think just based on game context. Felix can't afford to make many mistakes if he wants to claim the Cy Young, so the fact that he escaped each of these situations unscathed will only help. If Felix gives up a bases-clearing double to Mathis in the second, what do the voters think? What do the voters think now?

  • Two days, two badly misplayed liners to center by Peter Bourjos. He clearly has all the tools to bother us for a good long time, but the toothpick's still coming out with residue. He should bake a little while longer.

  • The broadcast gave a lot of credit to Saunders and Moore for driving in the tying and winning runs, which is kind of weird, given that Saunders hit a simple sac fly and Moore hit a broken-bat looper over second on a pitch he shouldn't have chased. Moore, in particular, was more lucky than good. However, if you think about this in terms of player confidence, results are all that matter. Saunders has been out of the lineup for a while. Moore's been stuck in a rut. Each of them came through to provide a big lift tonight. It makes no difference that Saunders made an out, or that Moore doily'd his way onto first base. They inherited a losing situation and made it a winning one, and that will only help them going forward. Run-scoring plays make players happy. Happy players are more confident. Confident players perform better.

  • Consider Jeff Mathis. How bad do you think Jeff Mathis is? Double that. That's Jeff Mathis.
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