Mariners Punish Woefully Inferior Athletics

Keep signing, we don't even need you

When the Mariners pulled a switch and put Felix Hernandez in the B game and Blake Beavan in the A game, you might've thought they were crippling their own chances of coming away triumphant. Their explanation was that they didn't want to overexpose their ace to the team he's going to face in the season opener. I think the real reason, though, is that they wanted to send a message to a division rival: we don't need our ace to stomp you into the ground. We don't even need a good pitcher. We'll do this shit with Blake Beavan and Luke French.

Mission accomplished. The Mariners put up a four-spot in the second and coasted to a 10-2 win, extending their unbeaten streak and keeping up their pursuit of the Cactus League title. The Rangers are behind them. The Angels are behind them. The A's are behind them. This team may never lose again.

On to what's actually somewhat important:

  • I might as well start by saying that Felix went four innings in his B game against minor leaguers. He actually allowed a few runs and a handful of hits, but Felix is a competitive guy and B games aren't competitive situations, so you can forgive him if he wasn't 100% locked in. Felix did his work and stayed healthy, which is all we really want. The only real note of interest is that Steve Baron twice knocked Felix for doubles. Baron has a .560 career OPS in the low levels of the minor leagues. In ST, he's twice doubled off Felix and gone deep against some other guy. Given that Baron struggles against lesser players and succeeds against better players, the only conclusion we can reach is that Steve Baron = -[prospect]. The Mariners need to promote this freak immediately.

  • Blake Beavan threw three innings in his start against Oakland and featured all of his pitches in his longest appearance of the month. There's not a whole lot I can say about his performance - there's not a whole lot I can say about a pitcher like Beavan, really - but one notes that the A's took 17 swings against him, and all of their swings made contact. This is a guy who had an 88% contact rate in AAA. Only 22, Beavan's got time to develop, but talk about your modest ceilings. Blake Beavan carries a Nick Blackburn lunchbox.

  • More interesting than Beavan, I think, was the three-inning appearance by Luke French. French put runners on in every inning, but he didn't allow any to score, and he also struck out Andy LaRoche, Chris Carter, and Conor Jackson (twice). Which, now that I look at it, isn't super impressive since we already know that Luke French can pitch in AAA, but still, he missed some bats and threw some sliders. French is caught between levels right now, but if he can grab that fifth rotation slot out of camp, that could give his career a boost, be it with the Mariners or somebody else.

  • In the Mariners' first at bat of the game, Guillermo Moscoso drilled Ichiro with a 90mph fastball to the shin. Ichiro went down and took his time getting up and going to first, and he was less than pleased. In Ichiro's next at bat, in the second, Moscoso again buzzed him inside with a 91mph heater. That drew a response from the crowd, and on the next pitch, Ichiro lined a single the other way. I have to imagine there are few better feelings than getting a solid hit off a guy who brushes you back. Guillermo Moscoso should keep this in mind the next time he faces Ichiro, which will be never.

  • Justin Smoak finally pulled his head out of his ass and had a good game, walking twice, singling, and hitting a two-run homer. As always, I have to caution you not to read too much into the homer, since it came against a minor league lefty on an inside curveball, but Smoak crushed that pitch, and there's nothing wrong with getting a little confidence. I wish Michael Saunders would start crushing minor league opponents.

  • In the seventh inning, Fautino de los Santos allowed a triple to Dustin Ackley, a double to Sean Kazmar, and a double to Adam Moore, all in a row. Those last two temper our enthusiasm over the first one, but Ackley did fight his way back from an 0-2 count and drilled a hard low fastball to straightaway center, which is a good sign. Kazmar and Moore, meanwhile, both went the other way. Each of the extra-base hits came on fastballs in three-ball counts.

  • Today's annoying reliever is Tom Wilhelmsen. While Wilhelmsen pitched a scoreless ninth to close it out, and even struck out two guys, he issued a pair of five-pitch walks with two down in an eight-run game. The second was on five fastballs. I don't want to blow this kind of thing out of proportion but, come on, just throw strikes. You aren't going to wow anyone in the ninth inning of a 10-2 game. Just make your manager happy and put the ball in the zone.

  • According to a commercial for TAP Plastics, "there's nothing better than listening to the Mariners play baseball," which holy shit is that a lie and a half. According to the same commercial, TAP Plastics is "the fantastic plastic place." I have never entered a plastic place and thought, wow, this is fantastic. Is it relative to other plastic places? Is the place actually made out of plastic? Is going to TAP Plastics better than listening to the Mariners play baseball?

The M's face the Angels tomorrow at the usual time, and Charlie Haeger will make his debut after missing a lot of action with a back problem. He'll relieve Jason Vargas, although only in one sense of the word.

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