Mariners Take Out Trash, Where Royals Are Trash

this is about to go wrong

I don't mean that, of course. I don't think it's fair to say that the Royals are trash. The Royals are littered with talent at the major- and minor-league levels, an enviable amount of talent, and they are most definitely a team on the rise. They could conceivably contend as soon as 2013, depending on a handful of factors. But they've been stung by a major injury to Danny Duffy. They've been stung by a major injury to Felipe Paulino. They've been stung by a major injury to Joakim Soria. Eric Hosmer is actively trying to be their version of Justin Smoak. The 2012 Kansas City Royals are now tied for the worst record in the American League. They have a run differential of -64. They're 1-5 against the Mariners. Against the Mariners, the Royals have looked like trash. I don't really watch the Royals when they aren't playing the Mariners. Therefore, I've only really seen the Royals as trash.

Tonight, before a combined in-person and at-home audience of probably several, the Mariners whipped the Royals 6-1. That's one of them in-between scores, where you're not quite comfortable calling it a blowout but you're also not comfortable calling it close, but we're talking about a 6-1 final in Safeco Field in 2012, so that translates to a park-neutral final score of 29 to you're all going to prison. The Mariners were up 3-0 after one. They were up 5-1 after two. Once again, the Mariners scored early and barely added on, but that isn't so much of a problem when your early runs add up to four or five instead of one or two. If the Mariners made a habit of scoring ten runs in every first inning and zero runs in every subsequent inning, I would probably be okay with it, because the Mariners would be oddly predictable and World Series champions. There's still time to pull this off in 2012, incidentally.

I noticed that the Mariners' run differential now stands at -9, which is frighteningly close to standing at zero. It isn't as easy as saying "the Mariners' run differential is almost zero, they're almost an average team." It also doesn't automatically follow that we should be super encouraged about what the future has in store. Regardless of the run differential, we have our legitimate concerns about Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, and some of the rest. There's a lot of pressure on the Mariners' player development system.

But, -9. For all of our disappointment and, worse, boredom, things haven't been that bad. The Mariners haven't been dreadful. They've been dreadful at some things, at some times, but the run differential last year was -119, and the run differential the year before that was -185. We've been through a more dreadful existence than this one. We've been walking around through the Dreadful Forest for some time under cover of night, and while we don't know when we're going to get out of it and find the Open Meadow Of Acceptability, it kind of seems like the trees are thinning out. We might be approaching the edge. Or this could just be a thin section of the heart of the woods. Hell, I don't know, it's dark and I don't have a map.

I don't want to sit and write for a long time about this game because it's Friday night, it was the Mariners and the Royals, and the Mariners improved from 44-57 to 45-57. So I'll make the rest of this quick. First, congratulations to Blake Beavan on what was a pretty outstanding start, all things considered. I've made no effort to hide the fact that I find Blake Beavan to be uninteresting, even though he is interestingly young. Beavan has shown an ordinary fastball, middling secondary stuff, and an inability to strike hitters out that borders on criminal. When Beavan was demoted, I didn't mind, because he'd pitched like Blake Beavan. When Beavan had a good run in Tacoma, I didn't really care, because he'd pitched like Blake Beavan. 38 innings. 15 strikeouts. Same dude. Same dude turned to eleven.

But Beavan's made three starts for the Mariners since coming back up, and over 20.2 innings he's struck out 14 batters while walking just one. That's a way for Beavan to get my attention. When Felix had that low-strikeout start against the Royals in the heat, it was pointed out to me that the Royals strike out less than any other team. Two of Beavan's three recent starts have come against the Royals. His strikeouts have been fine, in that they haven't not been there.

I'm not going to claim that Beavan has suddenly figured out how to make hitters go away, because I'll need a lot more supporting evidence, but remember that, a week ago, Beavan had one career major-league appearance in which he struck out more than four batters. Now he has three of them, having struck out five Rays and six Royals. I liked what I saw from his slider tonight, when he was working it down in the zone. Has Beavan figured out how to be truly successful at the highest level? I don't know, probably not. But Beavan is at least giving us a reason to ask the question now. Beavan is trying to make himself a guy worth talking about. I'm actually interested to see what Beavan does the next time he's on the mound.

The other game hero was John Jaso, who effectively ended the game with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. Jeremy Guthrie tried to blow 96 miles per hour by him up in the zone, but Jaso managed to turn on the fastball and knock it out to right-center. It looked like a real home run, too, and not a line drive. It looked like a home run a home-run hitter would hit. John Jaso has an .872 OPS and his sample size is getting less small by the day, or every other day.

On one hand, Jaso is probably overrated. By us. He's a platoon hitter, and he isn't a very good defensive catcher. He shouldn't be among a team's fans' favorite hitters when things are going well. But he just doesn't do anything wrong, against righties. Even against lefties, he's fundamentally sound. His discipline is superb. His line-drive stroke is superb. His results are superb. His personality is superb. I've mentioned it so many times but I still just cannot believe the Mariners got him from a brilliant organization at such a low cost. The Mariners got Jaso for an unproven reliever, and Josh Lueke wasn't just a run-of-the-mill talented unproven reliever. There were other issues. Good enough to get Jaso.

Not every move made by a brilliant organization pans out, and not every evaluation by a brilliant organization is correct. I'd love to know what the Rays thought of Jaso when they sent him away. And I honestly wonder just how he looked at the plate in 2011. His approach couldn't have been markedly different. Was he just hitting the ball worse? Why were his numbers so low? How were his numbers so low? It's difficult to reconcile Jaso's 2011 numbers with Jaso's 2012 visual and statistical performance. How did he manage just a .651 OPS? It feels good to have stolen from the Rays, even if all the Mariners stole was a disciplined platoon-hitting catcher without outstanding catcher skills. Jaso is the one guy whose plate appearances I look forward to every time.

Dustin Ackley pulled a line-drive single and a line-drive double. Eric Wedge has kept talking about how he's seeing good things even though the results haven't been there, so maybe now this is the results being there, or maybe this is another Dustin Ackley false start. Mike Carp went yard, turning on a high changeup and knocking it out to right-center. Last night I asked that Carp stop hitting singles and start hitting for power since his whole reason for being is power, now. Tonight, Mike Carp hit for power. Is Mike Carp under my spell? Does Mike Carp do whatever I ask him to do? No, obviously not, he has a .672 OPS and twice he's gone on the disabled list. You guys are ridiculous.

Carlos Peguero struck out twice, meaning that one time Carlos Peguero did not strike out. He did fall behind 0-and-2 in that non-strikeout at-bat, though, so, almost.

Look at that, too many words, like always. Tomorrow it's Kevin Millwood and Bruce Chen in an afternoon matinee. I'm given to understand that the game will not be on television? Feel free to simulate Kevin Millwood pitching against Bruce Chen with Legos. Do it outside, so that you are outside. Get away from the computer. Have you noticed how terrible your posture is? Look! Right now! Get away from the computer and go outside, with Legos.

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