Carlos Peguero Shows That Second Skill Is Comic Timing As Mariners Whip Rays

Carlos Peguero let everything build. Since his previous home run, on May 16th against Minnesota, he'd gone 6-for-36 with a ton of strikeouts and an OBP like something Freddy Garcia would blow in a Breathalyzer. He made himself into a problem, and then he made sure that everybody realized he was a problem. Then - just as soon as everyone was on board with the Mariners finding a new left fielder - he blew up. Completely out of nowhere, Peguero knocked another two dingdongers tonight, and he was a huge reason why the M's were able to knock off the Rays without breaking a sweat.

In a way it's almost annoying. Not only because it makes me look like a tool. Also because games like this serve as a reminder of what Peguero is capable of at any given moment, and it's hard to send that ability away, even when you know better. James Shields is a very good pitcher, and Peguero took him deep twice, because Peguero is a good home run hitter. In the early going, Peguero has an on-contact slugging percentage of .675. Albert Pujols has a career on-contact slugging percentage of .695. When Peguero hits the ball, he can hit it a very, very long way, and so it's tempting to play him regularly, ignoring the approach and the strikeouts and waiting for him to square the next one up. That's dangerous.

But nevermind the annoyance. The left field situation can sort itself out another day. The Mariners hit so few home runs as a team that the last thing I need is to get annoyed by any of them. If Peguero bought himself more time, it's only because he hit home runs that helped the Mariners win, and that's awesome. The Mariners need home runs. The Mariners need runs, just.

Thanks to Carlos Peguero, and thanks to a few other guys, too, the Mariners just wrapped up their first easy, comfortable win over a good team in more than a month. It's nice to know that this is possible.

I'm wiped out after flying earlier today, so we're going straight to a few bullet holes:

  • The classic book on all-or-nothing minor league sluggers like Carlos Peguero is that they can't hit anything that isn't a fastball. I don't remember Peguero's second home run, but his first was on a changeup from Fausto Carmona, and tonight he homered off a Shields change and a Shields curve. Peguero has most definitely looked stupid against a few offspeed pitches, but he's also looked stupid against a few fastballs, and he's looked stupid just standing there doing nothing. Don't believe anything too simplistic.

  • They always say that hitters should hit on instinct, and try to avoid thinking when they're standing in the batter's box. Then you see quotes like this from Peguero, in Baker's recap:

    "He threw me a change-up on the first pitch and I thought he might throw it because we had runners in scoring position. I just sat on it and was waiting for it."
    ...
    "It was just, sit on [the curve] and wait. Be patient and put a good swing on it.''

    Peguero thought, and Peguero hit two home runs. Had Peguero simply hit on instinct, he would've swung the bat immediately as hard as he could as soon as Shields threw the ball, and then again as soon as Kelly Shoppach threw the ball back.

  • Leading off the bottom of the second, Jack Cust caught up to a 93mph outside fasball and blasted it out to center for his first Safeco home run of the season. Immediately before the pitch, Dave Sims remarked on how Cust was still looking for his first Safeco home run of the season. "Why don't you tell me tomorrow's lottery numbers!" exclaimed every unfunny motherfucker sitting at home and watching the broadcast.

  • So as not to feel left out, Justin Smoak hit the Mariners' fourth and final home run when he pulled a low changeup out to right on a line. That ensured that tonight was both the Mariners' first three-homer game of the season, and the Mariners' first four-homer game of the season. Smoak's got three longballs in five games, so hopefully we're seeing him work his way out of that funk that claimed much of his May. This is a very different lineup when Smoak is on top of his form.

  • Even though he was overshadowed by the lineup's shredding of James Shields, Felix Hernandez - like Michael Pineda - was effective in bouncing back from a rougher start against the Yankees. In the series preview, Matthew expressed a desire to see Felix have one of his ultra-grounder games, and he didn't do that tonight. What he did do was strike out 11 of the 28 batters he faced while only allowing a run after the score was 8-0. Of the 47 swings that Rays batters took against Felix, 18 of them missed.

    Everything was just so free and comfortable with Felix, and the Mariners were in such a good position that they got to pull him after 97 pitches, which is worth noting since the last time out he threw 128. Pitch counts are pitch counts and they can only tell you so much, but I'm always going to be all for saving Felix's bullets in low-leverage innings so that he might have more left another time when the game is in doubt.

  • With the score 8-1 Mariners in the bottom of the sixth, Brendan Ryan led off with a weak grounder to Evan Longoria. Normally it would've been a pretty easy play for Longoria to make, but Ryan was busting his ass the whole way down the line and wound up beating out the throw for an infield single. I'm pretty sure this breaks one of those unwritten rules. Expect a beanball war tomorrow.

Friday pits Andy Sonnanstine up against Jason Vargas. Felix struck out three more batters tonight than Sonnanstine has struck out all season long.

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