It was if I had drawn the long straw.
Being my first game recap for this here blog, what better assignment than one in which Felix Hernandez would surely be the star? I had it all planned out in my head even. Some fun GIF showing the King dominating Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton or whoever else because, you know, Felix dominates everyone. The options would be plentiful!
When the Mariners jumped out to an early lead -- up three after the first inning, up seven at one point -- it was hard not to have the thought that this one was over. As Mariners fans, we've been on the other end of that thought early in ballgames at an unfortunate amount of frequency. It's generally the M's who are behind. It's the M's who have to play catch up and it's the M's who are about to serve up several more innings of futility. This time, it was going to be the opponent who had to trot out to the field and find a way to remain focused while being blown out. It was going to be the Angels' hitters who had to care while batting instead of just mailing it in.
The mother effing King was on the mound. This is the guy who hasn't had the run support but still dazzled us by winning games nearly single handed. Spot him a bunch of runs? Nasty stuff is going to happen, right?
I gather you saw the chart I posted some number of minutes ago. If you did, here is a different variation. If you didn't, it doesn't matter. This version will make more sense anyhow:
Early in the game -- heck, even half way through the game -- that little animation of Wile E. Coyote at top left is how I started to sculpt this recap in my head. Over before it even started, you know? The coyote was always chasing after Road Runner. Sometimes he got close. Sometimes it was even like he had that stupid bird in his grasps, but then, boom, piano or safe or dynamite. Other times, as depicted above, his catapult didn't even work. Boulder to face.
That should have been how this thing went down. A boulder to the face of the Angels before they had a chance to even get going. Instead, nope. Meet the cliff at bottom right
I'm not sure I'm in the proper state of mind to evaluate what exactly happened to Felix. I think I know some of the problems.
Such as, he threw an exorbitant amount of fastballs on the night. According to PITCH/Fx data, the least amount of fastballs Felix has thrown in an outing this year was 7.3 percent on opening night. The most was 43 percent in another outing where he got shelled by the Indians on May 19.Tonight? 78.2 percent of the pitches tossed by Felix were classified as four-seamers or sinkers.
I don't think we can just say that when Felix throws a lot of fastballs he's getting pounded. He only allowed one run to the Pirates back in May when 38.1 percent of his offerings were heaters.
Besides, we all know Felix typically has an awesome fastball. Tonight, though, it looked fairly flat at times. It was up in the zone at times. It just wasn't that unhittable weapon that the King can fall back on if he doesn't have the good feel for his changeup or slider or curve. Remember, this is the guy with command of five pitches. He can move to one if another isn't working.
Tonight, Felix didn't have a good feel for much so he started going heavy with old number one. When he did move to one of those other pitches and it seemingly went as desired, this sort of thing happened:
You can see the path the ball took. There's a good deal of break there. However, not enough break. The ball crosses the plate a bit high -- right at Mark Trumbo's knees. If it's got a little more sink and crosses somewhat lower, maybe this is a fly out instead of a three-run dinger that turned out to be a large contributor to the nearly 800 words I have already written.
Looking at some other things, I think Felix hit his spot? Henry Blanco doesn't setup with his mitt at a spot. He has that right arm resting on his knee, left hand clutching the mitt until the ball has damn reached him. Does he always do that? Also, right before the ball as scheduled to arrive, Blanco flips his wrist and has the mitt in a basket-catch type position. Was he expecting the ball in the dirt? Is that just how he catches?
That's the story of the game. Yeah, Felix still left with a lead and the bullpen "blew it." On any other night, there would be yelps summoned from the deep recesses of stomachs across Seattle regarding another poor showing from the relief corps. It's kind of difficult to pin this one on them, though.
After a night where a bad offense give away a win after their bad pitcher did more than he was expected to do, this evening we saw a great pitcher give away a win after his bad offense did more than they were expected to do.
Baseball is great, but baseball can be so cruel sometimes. Can you remember a season -- with high expectations or not -- that included so many kicks to our collective balls?
Wow, it just hit me, you guys. The Mariners are Wile E. Coyote.