I know that the Matt Kemp, Magic Johnson, and the team's hot start, they've been a popular topic as something of an NL surprise, to an even greater extent than the .have the best record in baseball, because as ignorant as I can be about the National League, it's not like the Dodgers have been lacking for coverage. Between
But even with that, and with Matt Kemp out injured, as I was writing out the Dodgers' starting lineup Friday night I thought to myself "well this doesn't seem very good." So when Kevin Millwood and the' bullpen proceeded to keep the Dodgers hitless for nine innings, I was amazed, but not as amazed as I would've been had the Mariners no-hit, say, the , or the . The Dodgers had what I considered that night to be a no-hittable lineup.
Yesterday, the Dodgers plated eight runs in Safeco Field, on 14 hits. Today, the Dodgers plated another eight runs in Safeco Field, on 11 hits and five walks. Sure, they were facing Jason Vargas and Blake Beavan, but then Friday they were facing Kevin Millwood so it's not like things got a whole lot easier. Thanks to the Dodgers thrashing the Mariners two games in a row, that combined no-hitter seems a little more remarkable. At first, that was a six-pitcher no-hitter against a depleted lineup. Now it was a six-pitcher no-hitter against a lineup that had no trouble scoring in Safeco the next two days. I know this sounds like a stupid pile of crap but I'm just trying to give you tongue-in-cheek silver linings here, if you don't like them then you can get the hell out of here. Go be miserable somewhere else! Or go find your own tongue-in-cheek silver linings!
Some time ago, I was talking to Grant Brisbee, coworker and proprietor of McCovey Chronicles. We were chatting about how to survive the grind of the baseball season without wanting to kill it come August, and he said what he really needs is just one day a week. One day to re-charge without having to worry about news or content generation. I decided yesterday would be a good opportunity for that day, on the heels of unusual history Friday night. I'd use Saturday to re-charge, with the Mariners likely to lose to Clayton Kershaw, and then I'd come back on Sunday at 100 percent.
And today, the Mariners provided this baseball game. The Mariners lost to the Dodgers 8-2, and while this was just the Mariners' latest loss in which they at one point had a lead, that lead was 1-0 in the first, and then the M's were facing a five-run deficit in the second. This was a dreadful baseball game that got out of hand in a hurry, and while the Dodgers aren't the Dodgers without Matt Kemp, their pitching's still the same, and their pitching is a big reason why they have the best record. The Mariners probably weren't going to do much against Chad Billingsley, so by 1:30 or 1:40 or so, this was all but decided.
And it didn't leave me much to work with. Even at or around 100 percent, energy is nearly useless without inspiration, which is why I'm going to end this recap by talking about a Jack In The Box commercial. But before we get there, I might as well talk a little about this game, since custom is for the dead to be eulogized. Is there a word for a eulogy that isn't in praise? This is going to be more like one of those, because there wasn't much that was praise-worthy.
Blake Beavan started, went two innings, and wasn't hurt. I think that's an adequate way of summarizing his performance; the rest is just filling in details. He worked through a scoreless first inning, then voted in favor of a six-run second inning, and didn't live to see the third. I don't mean to suggest that Blake Beavan died today in between the second and third innings, but his Sunday outing died after straying too close to a thrown grenade.
As we all understand by now that Beavan has very little margin of error, the second inning was a lot of Blake Beavan not doing things well enough. He fell behind the first guy 3-and-0 and wound up allowing a double. He walked Adam Kennedy, which isn't an easy thing to excuse. A high 2-and-2 pitch to Tony Gwynn Jr. was supposed to be low, and then after Dee Gordon slapped a good pitch, Beavan walked Elian Herrera on five pitches. That loaded the bases for Andre Ethier, who is probably the Dodgers' best hitter outside of Kemp, and who bats left-handed.
Beavan fell behind 2-and-0. He wound up in a full count, and now we'll give this 91 mile-per-hour fastball the usual treatment:
You don't always have to believe that the catcher's glove is the intended target, but Olivo held his glove in that position, and it's a sensible position - he wanted Beavan to throw a fastball somewhere around Ethier's knees. On 3-and-2, you need to throw a strike, so Olivo signaled for Beavan to throw a quality strike, down.
Beavan did throw a strike. As if you needed any more examples, this is the difference between a strike and a quality strike. I recommend that you open those two images in separate tabs and then alternate back and forth between them. That'll give you a better idea of how badly Blake Beavan missed. Andre Ethier wound up with a thigh-high fastball over the middle of the plate, and in that situation I don't know if there's a worse pitch to throw.
Ethier hit his grand slam, and that sealed Beavan's fate, as Hisashi Iwakuma came out for the third. Beavan's now allowed six runs in consecutive outings, and 17 runs in his last three starts. Those starts have featured two walks, four strikeouts, and four dingers.
Not that it's fair to judge a guy by a stretch of three starts, but Blake Beavan has been flawed for a lot longer than his last three starts. He can't keep the ball out of the air, and while he's a four-pitch pitcher, none of those pitches does much in the way of generating whiffs. With that skillset, you have to be able to put your fastball precisely where you want, and Beavan can't on a consistent basis, as evidenced by the pitch to Ethier. Beavan is really quite good about finding the strike zone, but just throwing a strike should never be the goal.
Some of you might be wondering why we seem to give a longer leash to Hector Noesi than we do Beavan, and that's a perfectly valid question given that Noesi's results have been poor. The basic answer is that Noesi simply seems to have more upside, so he's more worth the hiccups. I don't know, maybe Beavan picks up a cutter and that changes things completely, but if I had to pick one of these guys to be an effective starter in a year, I'd go with Noesi - he's shown more flashes, and he's thrown some real good breaking balls. Beavan's young enough that his career path isn't set in stone but my read is that Noesi has more raw talent.
So what now? Before any decisions are made, I think we need to wait until the team knows more about Kevin Millwood. If Millwood needs a trip to the disabled list, then it makes sense to promote Erasmo Ramirez, since he's on the same schedule in triple-A. If Millwood doesn't need a trip to the DL, then I think it might be time to promote Ramirez anyway and demote Beavan. They are somewhat similar pitchers, but Ramirez's future looks brighter, and of course Danny Hultzen is always getting closer.
Blake Beavan is not a terrible Major League starting pitcher. He does generate three strikeouts for every walk, and he does usually stay around the strike zone. But Beavan's got what seems like a low ceiling, and an ERA near 6. It might be high time to let him try to find a better slider or curve in Tacoma, while Erasmo comes up and tries to manage a better rate of quality strikes. The Mariners will have reasons for whatever they do, but let it not be said that Blake Beavan is an unknown entity.
Hisashi Iwakuma wasn't fantastic in relief of Beavan, but one guy I do want to mention is Charlie Furbush, who pitched in relief of Iwakuma. We haven't talked much about Furbush this year, but today he retired all eight guys he saw, with three strikeouts. On the year, he's faced 84 batters, walking three unintentionally and striking out 26. His strike rate is surprisingly high for a guy with his delivery, and his contact rate is in the low-70s. Lefties haven't touched him.
Coming into the season, I wasn't prepared to give up on the idea of Charlie Furbush as a starting pitcher. I thought he had enough upside that he'd be worth further trials. I don't know if the Mariners have given up on him as a starter permanently, but if they're set on him as a reliever, he's looking like one bad motherfucker in relief. You wonder about location consistency what with the way that he throws, but he has good enough raw stuff to get by regardless, and you have to figure that he's not the easiest guy to read standing in the box. Furbush started in Tacoma, but George Sherrill's injury opened the door, and now Furbush might be established. It's like how Brandon League's inconsistency has allowed Tom Wilhelmsen to get his feet wet as a closer. Failure by steady vets might allow younger guys to become more rich in less time.
As for League, Friday he was good, and today he was not. He allowed four consecutive hits in a two-run eighth, three of which were hit well. Eric Wedge said earlier that League isn't far away from returning to his role as closer, but I wonder if today's effort might have pushed back the timetable. League fell behind every single batter in the inning, and that's obviously a problem for a guy who still hasn't found his splitter to the degree that he'd like.
Of note: League faced seven guys. Hairston saw a first-pitch split. Abreu saw a first-pitch split. Loney saw a 2-and-1 split. Gwynn saw a 1-and-0 split. I'll grant that League is trying, which is probably the whole point of his demotion to the middle innings. But trying isn't accomplishing, and League took a step back after Friday's impressive show.
Kyle Seager mashed a home run to right field in the first against a 1-and-0 changeup down in the zone. It's weird to think about, but after the first day of May, Seager had a sub-.700 OPS. Seager later walked, and has about two strikeouts per walk and a .210 isolated slugging percentage. Since May 19th, which is as arbitrary as arbitrary gets, Seager's got 15 walks and 18 strikeouts. And you didn't think Kyle Seager would ever turn into anything! You, specifically you! You should be ashamed of yourself. Kyle Seager was obviously going to turn into something. And he's turned into something quite acceptable!
And the other offensive bright spot was Michael Saunders slugging a double to the right side of center in the bottom of the ninth. Shawn Tolleson is 24, and in the minors he generated 178 strikeouts and 27 unintentional walks. Saunders got ahead 2-and-0 and drilled a low fastball. Whenever Saunders' numbers take the slightest downturn I'm going to be worried that he's all out of magic, so I enjoyed this meaningless RBI double more than I probably should have.
I wrote a lot more after this game than I thought I would. A shame nobody's going to want to read it. Have you seen how nice it is outside? Tomorrow the Mariners play nobody, and then Tuesday they begin playing the Padres. Felix Hernandez gets to face the Padres in Safeco Field. Prepare to come away with no idea if Felix is back to being his old self or not.
Now, this commercial:
You'll recognize this commercial because every Mariners game shows it at least a half-dozen times. I have fewer problems with this commercial than I have with the Ice Cube/Coors Light line of commercials, but still, I can't leave this unaddressed.
They walk in and find a place to stand:
It's at this point that Jack wonders what they're doing at Club Chipotle. Never before did Jack wonder what they were doing at Club Chipotle. He didn't wonder during the drive, or before the drive, or after the drive, on the walk from the vehicle to the front door. He didn't wonder as they all made their way through the front door. He didn't grow sufficiently curious until they were all standing inside, on the dance floor.
The only explanation I can come up with is that Jack was kidnapped and blindfolded by his coworkers. And then he ends up taking it in stride, even though he's the guy in charge of the whole company, which doesn't prove but which certainly suggests that this is a somewhat regular occurrence. Has Jack been kidnapped and blindfolded and taken places before, by these same people? What an odd thing for people to do to their boss.
The response - how do you confuse "chipotle club" with "Club Chipotle"? The words are the same, just switched around, I get that, but did Jack just say "hey we should try a chipotle club" out of nowhere? Did he just say that sentence, and no other sentences? That doesn't make any sense. More likely, Jack was giving a presentation about sandwiches, or he was at least informally talking about sandwiches when he suggested a chipotle club, rendering the misunderstanding all the more implausible. And even if the other people really thought Jack wanted to check out Club Chipotle, why would they kidnap him and blindfold him? Why would the bouncer let these people drag in a man who is blindfolded?
One presumes that the only person who didn't know what was going on was Jack. Look at the way the others are dressed - they're all in business attire. That's what you wear to work, not a dance club. So it seems like all four of them came straight from work. Club Chipotle is hopping, so it must be late Friday or Saturday night. They were working very late, which I suppose might explain the misunderstandings - everyone would've been tired. But then they immediately went straight to the club? You admire their dedication but this is nonsensical behavior. Why does Jack keep these people around him?
Why are they wearing nametags?
How do you mishear "mambo" as "robot"?
How does everybody in the club immediately know that Jack is doing the robot?
What does everybody in the club immediately stop dancing when Jack does the robot?
Why does everybody in the club only stop and stare at the guy in the giant jack-in-the-box head when he starts doing the robot? What kind of weird shit goes down in Club Chipotle such that a guy in a giant jack-in-the-box head doesn't arouse immediate curiosity and suspicion?
I am now thinking about how much I would like a chipotle chicken sandwich. In that respect, this commercial is effective. In every other respect, this commercial makes less sense than dog spas.