Yesterday, Root Sports encouraged fans to make thepart of their Wednesday lunch plans. That idea might be all well and good for the Root Sports voiceover guy, since his only job is to be the Root Sports voiceover guy, but other people have real jobs, and real bosses who aren't too keen on their employees skipping work for a baseball game, so this afternoon the Mariners punished those fans for their unprofessional behavior, delivering a crushing loss that will make those who attended wish they'd stayed in the office.
The Mariners did actually have the lead - albeit a precarious one - as late as the eighth. And that was when Eric Wedge called on Chris Ray out of the bullpen to protect it. Within the span of seven pitches, the lead was gone, and the M's were down two. I know it seems unfairly selective to rip on Ray on a day in which Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen also struggled, but Ray gave up a huge home run and a pair of well-hit doubles, and he's now up to 23 batters faced on the season without a single strikeout. He is throwing strikes, but the strikes he's throwing are getting hit, and that isn't what the Mariners were looking for when they signed a guy with a mid-90s fastball. The Mariners wanted to see Ray get back to what he was back with Baltimore, and he isn't showing good indicators.
Coming off surgery, Ray wasn't very good in 2009. He wasn't very good in 2010. And in the early going, he hasn't been very good in 2011. The mathematical definition of a ray is a line that extends infinitely in one direction, and reaches an endpoint in the other. One wonders if Ray is nearing his. He's only 29 and he'll keep getting chances, but I've yet to see much of anything I like, and it wouldn't surprise me if he's pitching somewhere else within a calendar month.
On to today's selection of bullet holes:
- In my experience, one of the big draws of weekday matinees is that you get to skip work or school or whatever and go watch a baseball game under a warm sunny sky. At Safeco today, the roof was closed because it was pouring outside, fans everywhere were bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets, and one guy who got some air time for holding a sign said he was freezing his butt off. All those fans who attended today's day game basically got to feel like they were attending a night game in January.
- Fortunately, I suppose, today also set a new record for the smallest attendance in Safeco history at 12,407, eclipsing the previous low set two days ago. Not coincidentally, Milton Bradley didn't appear to be wearing earplugs, as nobody wants to heckle Milton Bradley when they're easily spotted.
- Dan Wilson was in the Root Sports broadcast booth today, and in the third inning Dave Sims asked him about Chris Gimenez. Wilson was clearly unprepared to field this question, and said that Gimenez was "swinging a good bat," and that he's a "good guy to have around in the clubhouse - just a good guy to have around." This is the stock response when you don't know what to say about a player but don't want to have everybody else around you staring at you, waiting for words. Dave Sims asked Dan Wilson about Chris Gimenez, and about Chris Gimenez we learned nothing.
- After Milton Bradley ripped an RBI double the other way in the third, Jack Cust followed with a slow chopper to short that went for an infield single. Jack Cust is now up to 16 career infield singles. Jack Cust has as many infield singles in his career as Ichiro averages every two months.
- In the bottom of the sixth, a lefty-batting Justin Smoak ripped a high 3-2 fastball from Kyle Drabek deep and out to left-center field to give the M's the lead. Just Monday, we saw a lefty-hitting Smoak slam a double off the left-center wall, which means that twice in three days we've seen Smoak hit for power the other way to an area that's killed countless players before. If a lefty-hitting Smoak can hit for power to the opposite field in Safeco, then a lefty-hitting Smoak is a strong dude who stands to have a good, slug-happy future. If Smoak can hit the ball out to left-center, he can hit it much further to right.
- For a guy who used to tend bar, you'd think Tom Wilhelmsen would have a faster pace.
- I don't think there's any denying that Kyle Drabek is a high-quality pitching prospect, but through his first six Major League starts, he's thrown 331 strikes and 247 balls. If Kyle Drabek were a light bulb, he would double as a space heater.
- Jason Vargas, meanwhile, bounced back in a big way from his home opening disaster, allowing a run and six baserunners over 6.2 innings. He threw all of his pitches, but, per usual, the changeup was his real weapon. The splits:
Changeups: 35 thrown, 22 strikes, 18 swings, 8 misses
Non-changeups: 70 thrown, 42 strikes, 21 swings, 0 misses
Yesterday, we saw Michael Pineda dominate the Jays' lineup with hard stuff. Today, we saw Jason Vargas control the Jays' lineup with soft stuff. It wasn't the same lineup both days, but it still provided a nice visual contrast, and high school coaches could show video of these games to their pitchers as proof that there's more than one way to make it and excel.
- Inspired by Monday's big comeback, the Root Sports voiceover guy has gone back to being cocky again. Quote:
...now we gotta take this magic on the road and give KC a royal thrashing.
- You can keep a baseball that gets hit into the stands. You can keep a bat that gets thrown into the stands. But you cannot keep a glove that falls into the stands. In order to return home with a souvenir, therefore, that souvenir must at some point have put your life in jeopardy. "Here, this almost killed you, you can have it." When David Eckstein throws his bat into the stands, it must be returned.
- In the fifth inning, first base umpire Laz Diaz ruled Corey Patterson safe on a very close play. Moments later, he ruled that Jose Bautista didn't go around on a check swing. The camera cut to a shot of Eric Wedge in the dugout, and Wedge was busy giving Diaz several pieces of his mind, and not in the Don Wakamatsu I'm-going-to-whimper-at-you-with-my-eyebrows kind of way. It was more in the scary these-words-are-mean-words kind of way. That was probably a welcome sight for all those Mariners fans who've been complaining about a lack of fire in the dugout since Piniella went away.
In the sixth inning, Diaz got another very close play at first and this time ruled in the Mariners' favor, even though replays suggested the runner was safe. One wonders if Wedge in any way influenced Diaz's mind.
Off to Kansas City tomorrow for a series the schedule says we have to play.