This was a game between theand the A's. These games are usually death. Not death in that the Mariners usually get blown out; death in that these games are usually dreadfully boring. I don't know what it is and I've tried to explain it before, but when the Mariners meet the A's - at least when Felix isn't pitching - it's like watching two old men play a deliberate game of chess in the park when you don't know the rules to chess.
But this one was different. It wasn't gripping. I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat. On the contrary, the outcome was basically decided as early as the bottom of the second inning. But this game was interesting, as this game was completely bizarre.
Why was it bizarre? I've identified a handful of reasons. The first is that, at least in theory, the A's were built around their pitching and defense, not unlike how the Mariners were built around their pitching and defense. But the A's pitchers allowed eight runs and 16 hits, and their defense looked shaky all game. In fairness, it was mostly Scott Sizemore and Ryan Sweeney. There were at least three plays I think Sizemore could've made that he didn't, and Sweeney committed the cardinal sin of diving for a line drive he couldn't catch with the bases loaded. Throw in a few other incidents and it was like Kevin Kouzmanoff never went away.
The second is that the Mariners scored eight runs on 16 hits. It was only the second time they've reached at least 16 hits since May 23rd. It was only the third time they've reached at least eight runs since June 6th. These first two points kind of feed off one another as the Mariners couldn't have done what they did were it not for Oakland's crummy pitching and defense, but as I pointed out in the game thread, Trevor Cahill had allowed three earned runs to the Mariners in his previous three starts this season. When we watch, we don't expect a Mariners victory, much less a Mariners victory fueled by an offensive explosion.
The third is that Cliff Pennington was removed with Bell's Palsy. This one's kind of cheating since we didn't know what was up with Pennington until shortly after the game was over, but learning of his ailment retroactively added to the game, at least for me. Bell's Palsy. It isn't bad. It isn't nearly as bad as the name makes it sound. Pennington is currently considered day-to-day and should be back in the lineup shortly. But Oakland's starting shortstop, riding the longest hitting streak of his career, was removed in the sixth inning with facial paralysis. I see your list of weird baseball injuries and disabilities, and raise you Bell's Palsy.
And the fourth is that Pennington's replacement at short was Eric Sogard, and Eric Sogard wears glasses. Not goggles. He doesn't wear badass sports goggles. He wears glasses. I was aware of this before and I've made fun of Sogard in spring training threads, but I always figured that's where my Sogard jokes would remain. Spring training threads. I never expected to see him in the Major Leagues.
Maybe that wasn't fair. I've never been real up to speed on what Sogard brings to the table. I've never been familiar with his skillset. But here's what I did know about him:
- Wears glasses
That was all I needed to know. He's a little white dude with glasses. There was no way he'd turn into a quality baseball player. He could turn into a guy who writes about quality baseball players, and he could turn into a guy who trades quality baseball players, either in real life or on the internet, but he couldn't turn into a quality baseball player himself. It was impossible.
Or so I thought, but there he was tonight, doing everything with glasses on. He played defense, in glasses. He took balls, in glasses. He swung at pitches and made contact, in glasses. It was the cutest little thing. He even lined a double, in glasses.
Cliff Pennington out --> due to Bell's Palsy --> replaced by Eric Sogard --> in glasses
There were some other weird things that happened tonight, too. Chone Figgins was removed early on, and for the several innings we waited before hearing he had a strained hip flexor, we all crossed our fingers (for a trade. You're horrible!). Justin Smoak had his best game in weeks in a game he thought he'd be watching from the dugout. Franklin Gutierrez made an absolutely sensational diving catch to snare a drive to his right, which isn't so much weird as interesting, but whatever.
Unlike so many other Mariners/A's games in the past, this was a Mariners/A's game I had a good time watching. I don't expect this to become the new usual, but with Felix tomorrow and the promise of more Eric Sogard, in glasses, Tuesday's looking promising, too. Not a bad way to kick off the week.
A very limited assortment of bullet points:
- I don't know what there is to say about Blake Beavan, which means he's settling into his role as the new Doug Fister with remarkable ease. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the first, he struck out two guys. Those were his only strikeouts until the top of the seventh, when he picked up one more. Beavan's started five games, now. In all five games, he's worked into the seventh inning, and in all five games, I've sat there and thought "I guess this is okay," and then I've looked up and noticed how deep he was going. You can't argue with results, and so far, Beavan's results have been just fine for what he is.
Can he keep it up? Is he a legitimate, big league #5? We have the rest of the season to find out, but he's off to a good start. He looks like he can be fine and boring, and that's all a team ever needs from the back of the rotation.
- Doug Fister watched on TV in Detroit, wondering where all that run support was when he was around. Miguel Cabrera patted him on the back. Fister lowered his head, nodding.
- I don't think I've literally ever cared less about a Mariners injury than I do about Chone Figgins' hip flexor. This is nothing against Chone as a person since I don't know him as a person, and I'm sure he's a lovely dude, but, man, who cares? Figgins is due to be re-evaluated in the morning and even the trainer's probably going to make him wait for an hour while he defrags his laptop and intently watches the progress.
Jordan Norberto was one of two players who came over to the A's organization in the Brad Ziegler trade. He pitched in relief tonight. Of his 23 pitches, 11 were strikes, and eight were located within the zone. If Jordan Norberto and Dan Cortes had a strike-off tomorrow, where the winner had to throw three consecutive uncontested strikes, the people in charge of Safeco Field would eventually end up with a lot of paper work to fill out, because Jordan Norberto and Dan Cortes would die.
- In the top of the sixth, Casper Wells nearly collided with Franklin Gutierrez in front of the left-center fence after Gutierrez ranged way over to flag down a well-hit gapper. Wells will get used to that.
- Dustin Ackley has a .929 OPS.
When Jerry Blevins isn't pitching in a baseball game, you can find him foraging in a woodland canopy.