Seattle Mariners vs. Minnesota Twins Series Preview (7/25-7/28)

Tom Szczerbowski

Mariners, Twins. New series, new streak.

Date Time Venue Probable Pitchers
25-Jul 7:10 PM Safeco Field Kevin Correia vs. Hisashi Iwakuma
26-Jul 7:10 PM Safeco Field Scott Diamond vs. Felix Hernandez
27-Jul 1:10 PM Safeco Field Samuel Deduno vs. Aaron Harnag
28-Jul 1:10 PM Safeco Field Kyle Gibson vs. Erasmo Ramirez

On July 6th, the Mariners had won three of four, and started to show signs of righting the ship. Then, Jeremy Bonderman blew up in Cincinnati, and it appeared maybe things were crashing back to earth all at once. The Mariners promptly won 10 of their next 13, bringing us to last night, where Joe Saunders played the previously vacated position of pitcher implosion. Despite an improbable eight game win streak, cynicism sets in almost immediately when a team like the M's drops just one game. I'd be lying if I didn't have a completely irrational "maybe we should sell" thought during the middle of the game, particularly after Hector Noesi did the most Noesi thing possible. That's why I don't write without shutting myself up first.

This is a stupid thing that probably doesn't need to be said, but I'll say it anyways - the greatest part about baseball season is that there's another game tomorrow, or the day after. That's why the All-Star break is the worst for fans, twiddling our thumbs without the hope of another victory the next day to carry momentum or renew hope. The taste of losing to Scott Kazmir only lasts 27 hours before a new first pitch is thrown.

That hope comes in the form of the Minnesota Twins, who are 43-55 but are playing well, winning each of their last three series. Here's to starting a new winning streak.

Eric Wedge is still out of action after suffering a minor stroke. While the Mariners have a tendency to drive anyone to poor health, Wedge is getting some well-deserved rest. He's been released from the hospital, and everyone wishes him a quick recovery, including former M's Steve Delabar and Casper Wells via Twitter. Wedge is a man respected by his players and peers alike. From Lookout Landing to Wedge, get well soon. It doesn't feel the same without him on the prowl. He's going to be out of action for "at least" the next three series as he recovers at home.

Was yesterday afternoon the last start from Joe Saunders as a Mariner? Probably not, and the man who came to "relieve" him is the reason why. It's understood that the Mariners aren't likely to complete a miracle run to the playoffs, but considering how bad Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan have been, it certainly gives the team pause before shipping out somebody like Saunders. Whether you want the Mariners to fire sale or not, it's understandable why the team hesitates before trotting out a starter of that quality every fifth day.

The Mariners face Kevin Correia tonight, who's still the same pitcher he's always been results-wise, despite opting to throw his cutter more than he's ever thrown it before. His cutter usage has leaped from 21% to 36%, essentially replacing his slider entirely, which he's dropped from his arsenal. It's been a decent pitch for him, about league average in pitch value, while his regular fastball has been teed off on this year, especially against righties. Correia loves to use the cutter with two strikes against lefties, throwing it 50% of the time.

After a promising 2012 (3.54 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 2.3 fWAR in 27 starts), Scott Diamond has been completely replacement level this season, only managing to strike out a Bonderman-esque 4.03 K/9. This has unsurprisingly resulted in a 5.53 ERA to go along with miserable peripherals (5.19 FIP, 5.83 tERA). Ground balls are down, fly balls are up, and so are home runs. Diamond still throws the same fastball/curve/change combo he's always thrown, but he's had quite a bit of trouble with the curve (not intentional and the movie sucked) this season, and what was once his best pitch is now his worst. Lefties are crushing it to the tune of a .744 SLG.

Those two get to open against Iwakuma and Felix, so that taste of hope is more palpable than usual.

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