In a matchup that featured mostly complete versions of each team, theadministered a beatdown of the host , storming out to a 9-1 lead before skipping the final few innings for a team picnic. The Mariners blasted three home runs to the Dodgers' pathetic one, drew three walks to the Dodgers' pathetic two, and turned one double play to the Dodgers' pathetic zero. It was a mismatch that highlighted the stark difference in talent level between the two ballclubs, and the Dodgers will be relieved to face the on Thursday, a team they may stand some chance of beating.
Today's bullet holes:
- Doug Fister's started three games this spring, and today's was the best effort, as he threw four solid innings. The lone blemish was a solo homer by Rod Barajas on what looked like a changeup down and in, but other than that, Fister was pretty good. I will say that it looked to me like his release point was still a little elevated, and he left a number of pitches up, contributing to his six fly balls and three pop-ups. But this is only a subjective observation that may have no basis in truth.
Fister managed to strike out four of the 14 batters he faced, which is a nice mark for him. Three of those strikeouts, though, were called, so it's not like he was missing bats, and he's never going to start. Stop wishing for him to do something he's never going to do. You are so unreasonable.
- Of the Mariners' three home runs, the first was hit by Jack Wilson, which was also the Mariners' first home run in like eight games, excluding yesterday's B game. He hit it off a lefty with a low arm angle, so he had the platoon advantage, but on the other hand, Jack Wilson. This is something to keep in mind when you try to predict which player's going to bust a streak. If someone had asked you which Mariner would snap the homerless drought, you probably would've said Jack Cust or, hell, I dunno, Justin Smoak. But while those might be the most likely individual names, "other" is a powerful category. Fewer than half of the home runs the hit a year ago, for example, came from Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday. You never know when the little guy might surprise you.
- The Mariners' second home run came off the bat of Jack Cust, who was previously having a difficult spring. Obviously you never want to make too much of anything that happens in these games, but what impressed me about Cust's homer was that it came against a lefty on a high-inside fastball. This is the best screengrab I could get:
Those pitches are obviously hittable, but it requires a certain amount of bat speed for a lefty hitter to catch up, and Cust caught up and then some. It's good to see that kind of power and swing from a guy whose power numbers have mysteriously dropped.
- And the Mariners' third home run came from Alex Liddi, who made up for misjudging an infield pop-up and allowing it to drop earlier in the game. Liddi's blast was actually a grand slam, as he pulled a meaty 3-2 fastball well over the left-center fence. Again, you don't want to read into things like this. Liddi's always been a powerful guy, and he hit a bad pitch from a AAA reliever. But it's just nice to see some dingers again. I have fewer memories of Mariner home runs from the last few years than I have memories of watching a squirrel eat a nut in a tree.
- The bulk of the damage the Mariners did at the plate today came at the expense of ex-Mariner Jon Huber, who was the guy on the mound when Liddi went deep. Huber came in, walked the first guy, walked the second guy, allowed a line drive to the third guy, allowed a grand slam to the fourth guy, allowed a line drive to the fifth guy, got a grounder from the sixth guy, and then allowed a well-hit grounder to the seventh guy. Then Huber left. Coincidence?
I don't think there's any denying that Jon Huber is a Mariner operative, and based on his performance today, he's committed to the job. However, given that it's only March 9th, he may have played his card too soon. We may have to send another guy to the Dodgers in advance of our World Series.
- At one point the Dodgers announcer claimed that (paraphrased), when Marcus Thames is on, there's nobody in baseball better at hitting home runs. Of course, I assumed this was ridiculous. Then I looked and saw that Thames has averaged one home run for every 17.2 plate appearances over his career. Albert Pujols is at 16.6. So is Alex Rodriguez. Ryan Howard's a little better, but the point is that Marcus Thames has even more power than I thought he did. It's at everything else that he sucks.
- Jon Garland left the game in the second inning holding his side, suggesting an abdominal strain. Within an hour or so, we had confirmation that he had strained his oblique. The Dodgers announcers didn't find out about that until the bottom of the ninth, at least an hour after everybody else. Which makes me wonder if these were actually Dodgers announcers. The Dodgers themselves clearly didn't bother informing the two guys announcing their baseball game. I wonder who they were. They were better than Oakland's guy who sounded like he spent three hours choking on a pin bone.
- Those same announcers used Garland's injury as a jumping-off point to talk about how pitchers should be a little tubbier so that they don't strain their oblique muscles. A direct quote: "you can't strain a muscle you don't have." The announcers apparently decided that fat does not collect above muscles, but rather replaces them.
- Luis Rodriguez made an error on a routine grounder in the bottom of the eighth, which he probably shouldn't have done.
- Dan Cortes was his usual wild self in the ninth, but a little more worrisome was Garrett Olson's appearance in the eighth. Olson inherited a 9-2 lead, but then started walking guys and falling behind others. He'd end up getting charged with two runs, but it isn't the runs that I care about. It's that, armed with a comfortable buffer, Olson either nibbled on purpose or totally lost his command. When you're up by more than, I don't know, four or five runs in the eighth inning of an exhibition game, there's really no excuse to walk anybody. At least not without a battle. Olson was visited once by Chris Gimenez and once by both Gimenez and Carl Willis, and those visits shouldn't have had to happen.
- I wonder what was up there.
Nobody else seemed particularly concerned. Maybe they didn't think it was a big deal. Or maybe they didn't realize what was up there.
- It doesn't matter who starts the Mariners games right now. They're all finished by Sean Kazmar, playing every position.