There are times, usually when I'm tired and don't feel like writing, that I want to post a .gif in lieu of a recap. I've never acted on that impulse, mostly because that would be impossibly lazy and somewhat inappropriate, but also because it's rare for a baseball game to be determined by a single play. The sport naturally resists such simple characterization.
Well, usually it does. If ever there was a night where a .gif sufficed, it might have been Wednesday's 8-3 win over the Orioles:
Rarely has a .gif so thoroughly encapsulated a ball game. Just by watching that, you can make a pretty good guess at who won, you might have an inkling that the margin of victory eventually turned fairly large, and you definitely know that whatever happened frustrated the crap out of Adam Jones.
Jones is a good player. He's made all-star teams, he's gone to the playoffs, and he's haunted the Mariners for years. He's won gold gloves and he's done as much as anybody to turn 'Bavasi' into an unspeakable word around these parts.
But he had an awful game last night.
Jones salvaged part of his evening with two hits late in the contest after the outcome was decided. Besides that, Wednesday was a mess for the 27-year-old center fielder. He dropped a flyball*, crashed into a fence, missed another ball, struck out, popped up, and at one point, appeared to lose track of how many outs there were in one inning. He also tried to reduce his bat to kindling, and failed to do that too.
* It's worth mentioning that both 'drops' would have been nice catches. Not webgems, but good plays. Jones was in position to make both of them and I'm sure he feels like he could have caught each ball.
I have no ill will towards Jones. He seems like a nice man and he's a fun player to watch. Baltimore is certainly lucky to have him. Still, everybody plays a lousy game at some point, and for Jones, his might as well have come in Seattle.
This city and it's fanbase has seen the Jones-Bedard move backfire as spectacularly as possible. Since the trade, Jones and the Orioles have gone on to heights the Mariners haven't sniffed in more than a decade. The M's, meanwhile, have brought up the rear in the AL West in all but one season since parting with their center fielder of the future. It was a horrible deal at the time, and it worked out as badly as people imagined. Just thinking about the trade is sickening, and it's a feeling we get every time Jones steps into the box or trots out to center field.
For one night, though, it didn't matter. That's about all we can ask for at this point.
- Aaron Harang had his best outing of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing four hits and two runs, striking out five with just one walk. Critically, he didn't allow a homer for the first time this year. The right-hander's stuff appeared sharper than it's been in previous starts: his fastball touched 94 on the gun and he worked with a filthy two-seamer that seemed to break from the middle of the plate to the right-handed batters box at times. For a guy who hasn't had a great fastball this season, this was a very positive outing.
- Michael Morse hit his third homer in four nights. Like Tuesday's blast, yesterday's was a line drive into the right field bleachers. Who was the last Mariner right-hander capable of doing that consistently? Adrian Beltre? Richie Sexson?
- Jesus Montero hit a triple last night. Granted, it took a little Yakety Sax in the outfield to make it happen, but Jesus Montero hit a triple. Apparently he did that twice in spring training, and six times in the minor leagues prior to that. You'd never know based on his reaction after pulling into third:
- At the nadir of the season, when the Mariners were doing silly things like getting blown out by Houston and fans were voicing their displeasure by shouting at (insert uniformed personnel/executive here), some speculated that the organization signed Raul Ibanez with the intent of using him as a starter.
Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. Other than a garbage time at-bat on Tuesday, Ibanez has played only once since April 24th. True, the M's ran into a group of lefties on the homestand, facing four in seven games. I think it's telling, however, that Jason Bay started two of the three games in which they faced a righty. That, combined with Bay's hot bat, seems to indicate that Ibanez won't be seeing the field much in the coming weeks.
- If it weren't for Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, Manny Machado would get a lot more hype. He's 20-years-old, he plays on the left side of the infield, and he can hit. He nearly decapitated a cameraman after ripping a Carter Capps fastball into the bullpen last night, and he finished the game with a season batting line of .311/.349/.504, good for a 128 wRC+. He's probably not going to keep that pace up -- he has a high BABIP and a fairly low walk rate, for starters -- but Machado has now played 79 career games with an above average wRC+. Anybody who can even hold their own at this level at his age is destined to be a special player.
- Fair to say that Michael Saunders returned healthy and ready to play? He went 4-14 with a homer and a steal over the three game series.