The easy thing to do after watching the Mariners score five times in four games would be to sigh and say something along the lines of "here we go again." Obviously the M's haven't been an offensive juggernaut lately and after a week largely devoid of runs, it's tempting to chalk it up as business as usual. Before you lump 2013 in with the last few years, though, take a look at the numbers for the starting pitchers we've seen over the last four days:
That's a brutal slate of arms to run into. It's tough to do a whole lot with any one of those guys and most teams in the league would have struggled over the last four days. That's not to let the Mariners off the hook completely, of course. Most teams may have struggled, but most also would have squeaked at least a few more runs across. It wasn't a good week at all.
That said, this isn't going to be 2010 again, and the attack should be better than last year's effort too. There are legitimate bats on this team, and with Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, and the Houston Astros on tap, they should score quite a bit over the next few days.
It's also appropriate to give a tip of the cap to Yu Darvish. The 26-year-old right-hander dominated tonight. According to Brooks baseball, Darvish threw 69 of 111 pitches for strikes, sat at around 93 MPH, touched 98, and induced 18 swinging strikes with six different pitches (whether they were actually different or just varied enough to confuse a program is up for debate, but it's impressive anyways). Darvish will never have pinpoint control, but as long as he has a general idea where his pitches are going, he's going to be tough to beat. Sometimes that happens, and we can take a tiny bit of solace in the fact that at least the Mariner bats didn't spoil a pitching gem from one of their starters.
The less said about this game the better, so here's an abbreviated set of bullets:
- Here's the Raul Ibanez moment we all knew was coming:
- I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for why Ibanez wasn't given an error on that, but I can't think of one right now. The reality is, plays like that are a consequence of starting him in the outfield. There aren't a lot of 40-year-olds that can competently handle outfield duties and stuff like this happens when you play guys out of position. You can laugh or you can scream, but don't be surprised.
- In the top of the ninth, Eric Wedge opted to use Brendan Ryan as a pinch hitter for Dustin Ackley. Years from now, hopefully we can all laugh about this and agree it was the low point.
- While we're on Ackley, his main problem at the dish right now is plate coverage. He's bailing out badly: he can't make solid contact on pitches on the outer third of the plate and he's completely hosed on anything near the corner. He looks a bit like Michael Saunders back in 2011. There are a couple of other things he needs to fix, but finding a way to reach pitches on the outer half of the zone has to be the number one adjustment right now. As a hitter, you can either stand back from the plate or you can drag your front foot towards first base when striding. Ackley is proving that you can't do both.
- There's not a ton to say about Joe Saunders. He wasn't very good, obviously, and it just demonstrates that, like Jason Vargas, he needs to command the ball well to avoid trouble. Facing the Rangers for the second time in a week, in their park, was always going to be a tough assignment. Without his best stuff, he didn't have much of a chance. Hopefully he can bounce back in Houston.
- Joe Saunders fact that most of you might not know: he gets substantially more grounders than flies. Career FB%: 35.7%. Career GB%: 45.2%. I had assumed that all soft tossing lefties gave up a ton of fly balls, and in hindsight, that seems kind of simple of me.