There's not much I can write about this game -- it not being on television -- and I am thankful for that because there is not much that I need to write or you need to read about this game. The Mariners got a satisfactory pitching and defense performance against an Oakland lineup that is not particularly menacing and it went for naught because the hitting aspect of the game completely eluded the team.
We talk a lot about how the Mariners can make substandard pitchers look like aces and how humbling it is to be shut down by the likes of a Matt Palmer or a Jeremy Guthrie. It's true; those are embarrassing for the team and for those fans that self-identify perhaps a bit too much with the team. However, I submit today's game as a different level of humiliation and I am not sure that it's not a level with a worse feeling.
Brandon McCarthy threw 114 pitches in his complete game shut out this afternoon. Of those, Pitch F/X classified 101 of them as fastballs. Just 13 pitchers were sliders. McCarthy barely threw more sliders than Michael Pineda (who turned in a quite good game of his own) threw changeups and Michael Pineda never throws his changeup. McCarthy essentially eschewed his other pitches and shut out the Mariners with solely a fastball.
And not a blazing one at that. It averaged 90.3 miles per hour today and yet of the 101 thrown, the Mariners swung at 53 of them and missed 15 times, which is pretty terrible. They also took a bunch for strikes and ended the day striking out 10 times while drawing nary a single walk. They managed three hits, all singles and never seriously mounted a threat to score. They didn't work counts, they didn't get hits and they failed at both of those while seeing a fastball 90% of the time. McCarthy's first 20 pitches, which covered seven batters, were all fastballs. By the end of the sixth inning, Michael Pineda was through with 105 pitches thrown to 25 hitters. Brandon McCarthy, who had faced 21, was at merely 73.
Yes, this is not as apparent a failing. I mean it is obviously failing, but failing against a tough test is rarely shameful. However, it's when you dig into it a little further that the true magnificence of this failure becomes more apparent and I wonder if that doesn't make it worse.
Here is where I would offer some takes on the positive aspects of the game, as I like to keep things positive. It is only a sporting event after all. Except, what are the good things to highlight here? There were three lousy hits, and I couldn't witness them so I have no idea if they were on challenging pitches or not. The Mariners lined out a couple times, but were they robbed? I don't know.
Michael Pineda had a decent game. He generated far more ground balls than is customary for him, but also yielded a home run and a crippling double, perhaps after a questionable no-strike call by the home plate umpire. Chance Ruffin struck out a pair, but also walked a pair as he continues to show little understanding of this concept that is the "strike zone." At least Tom Wilhelmsen turned in another encouraging inning of relief work, but whatever, it was 11 pitches and honestly, it wasn't all that great.
It's a Saturday. It's a holiday weekend Saturday as we break to supposedly celebrate the fruits of labor done the rest of the year. It's nice here in Seattle. If it's nice where you are, go outside and enjoy something. I hope you didn't waste your time with this game. The Mariners sure didn't.