As you can see in the standings table to the right, that's .500, baby. The Mariners are on pace for either 81 or 89 wins, depending on how much stock you put into the Pythagorean won/loss formula. Of course, if you're calculating a team's Pythagorean winning percentage after 20 games, then you have some problems.
Anyway, let's get right to it. By popular demand (read: one person), I've tried my hand at a Win Expectancy chart for tonight's game, which can be seen below:
Here's how it works: at any given point during a game, in any situation, a team has particular odds of winning that game. Christopher Shea scrolled through several years of Retrosheet data to derive those odds. So, for example, the average visiting team has a 48.4% chance of winning before the first pitch is thrown. However, if the leadoff batter hits a home run, the team's odds of winning increase to 54.4%. So on and so forth. Win expectancy can be calculated for any and every situation that may arise during a game. What you see above are the Mariners' odds of beating Texas as the game progresses. They start off more or less at 50%, but Beltre's two-run jack shoots those chances up around 62%...and so forth.
Another neat thing about Win Expectancy is that you can apply it to individual players. Consider this situation, for example:
It's the bottom of the ninth. The bases are loaded with one out and the home team trailing by one. At this particular moment in time, they stand a 54.4% chance of winning. However, let's say that Player A is summoned to pinch-hit and he strikes out. Now the home team's chances of winning drop to 26.3%. Player A therefore can get charged with a -28.1% rating, as he singlehandedly reduced his team's odds of winning by that amount. For each player, you can add up their ratings in game situations to come up with a final sum which gives you an idea of which players helped and hurt the team's chances of winning the most. That's the table you see embedded in the graph above.
So, what do we take from the chart? Adrian Beltre had the biggest hand in helping the Mariners win, as he improved their odds by 16.1%. Raul Ibanez was second, at 14.3%. Ichiro actually hurt the most out of anyone (doubt you'll hear that one again), at -13.5%.
It's an awesome tool, and it provides some neat data which - if summed up over the course of the season - could tell us a lot about who was really the most valuable player on the team, but it's a bitch to calculate, and I'll tell you right now that I won't want to do it after every game.
...so, with that done, let's focus on what actually took place tonight. Pretty good timing for that "Adjusting to a New League" post, huh? Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson combined to go 5-9 with a walk, a homer, and five runs scored. Raul Ibanez provided some incredibly important insurance runs with a two-run double in the ninth, and even Wilson Valdez was getting on base from the bottom of the lineup.
We'd need all this offense, too, because you'd be hard-pressed to find many pitchers who win a game despite giving up four home runs. Make no mistake, Ameriquest is a hitter-friendly ballpark, but those weren't really pop-ups flying over the fences tonight.
Which reminds me. In the bottom of the fourth, Mark Teixeira hit a ball down the first base line that Dave Niehaus called a pop-up. The ball would go on to hit the foul pole for a home run. Maybe it's me, but I don't really think you can call something a pop-up when it hits the pole about 20 feet above the wall.
In his last start, Joel Pineiro eschewed his curveball. Tonight, it was the fastball. If he goes six innings in Oakland next week without throwing his change, then we know something's up. Joel was relying on his offspeed stuff tonight, and for the most part, it was really working. There was more break to his curveball, and he was fooling a lot of batters with deceptive velocity and movement. That's the encouraging way to put it. The flip side is that Pineiro avoided his fastball because he wasn't getting much power into it. As unreliable as radar guns are known to be on a league-wide scale, the fact of the matter is that Pineiro was topping out around 87-88 (he hit 90 two or three times) while Ryan Drese was working in the 91-93 range. We can't be absolutely sure about anything here, so we shouldn't jump to any conclusions, but Pineiro's fastball velocity is definitely something to keep an eye on his next time out.
Admit it: you've been waiting for Beltre to jack one for so long that, when he tomahawked that hanging...whatever it was...into the LF seats on the first pitch he saw, you were stunned and unable to enjoy the moment to the fullest extent. By the time I realized what had happened, Richie Sexson was standing on first base. Needless to say, it was a welcome sight, because the sooner that power shows up, the better.
Beltre actually had himself a few good hacks in the game. He hit a ball pretty well in the sixth that found a glove, and facing Doug Brocail in the ninth, he fouled off a bunch of tough pitches (albeit pitches out of the strike zone) before driving one into left field. It would have been a 100% encouraging performance if not for that at bat in the fourth where he flailed at three consecutive low-and-away sliders. He's getting better, but he's not quite there yet.
Unless I'm mistaken, Ron Fairly spent a good minute or two in the first inning explaining how the ball carries well in the infield at Ameriquest.
More fun with announcers: early in the game, Fairly and Niehaus were singing the praises of new third base coach Jeff Newman, presumably because he's not Dave Meyers. You wonder if the team's still keeping track of the "Our Third Base Coach Has Gone _ Days Without Crippling Chris Snelling" sign in the clubhouse. Anyway, they went on to explain that part of what makes Newman such a good coach is that he's "very aggressive". To paraphrase Fairly - if you're running hard from second, he's going to wave you in towards home. Apparently, the only qualification you need in order to become an upper-echelon third base coach is the ability to windmill your arms really fast. Being able to shout out such encouragements as "GO!" and "BUST YOUR ASS!" is gravy. Ask Red Sox fans what they think about Dale Sveum's aggressive style. I don't think they see eye-to-eye with Fairly and Niehaus' thinking.
Later, upon noticing that Joel's velocity was down, Fairly decided to blame it on the radar gun. "It's not registering near what Joel can throw." Nevermind that it was perfectly fine for Drese, whose sinking fastball has always hung around the low-90s. If you're a guy who's pretty familiar with the Mariners, and you notice that one of the pitchers evidently isn't throwing as hard as he usually does, how can you blame that on an inanimate object? You'd think that he'd know better.
I'm going to lay off of Valle for saying "expecially" all the time - it's annoying, but everyone has one particular word that they just can't pronounce for the life of them (I believe Ron Fairly's trouble word is "the"). Instead, I'm going to poke fun of him for a hysterical display of inadvertent juxtaposition. When Beltre lined his double in the ninth inning, Valle rather enthusiastically stated "Adrian Beltre, running as hard as he always does." In the middle of the sentence, the camera cut to a clip of Beltre leisurely jogging around first and coasting into second. Timing is everything.
Here's something I don't get: if you're Mike Hargrove, and your #9 hitter picks up just his 13th hit of the season to lead off the second, why do you send him with Ichiro at the plate? For one thing, you have a bunch of good hitters coming up; for another, it's Wilson Valdez, and you shouldn't push your luck. Not even a good jump could keep him from getting gunned down by a mile.
Ricoh Scouting Report on Joel Pineiro:
- Keep the ball down
- Throw breaking ball for strikes
- Avoid fastball counts
- Keep the ball down
- Throw strikes
- Throw strikes
Remember how, for the first few weeks of the season, Jeremy Reed was having a bunch of good at bats, but his numbers were miserable? Well, the hits are starting to come. Two little Texas Leaguers today made up for two well-struck balls that found gloves earlier this season. Reed's up to .270, with a .361 OBP and a 1.5 BB/K ratio.
When Richie Sexson is facing a contact pitcher, he looks like a completely different hitter. He kept a pretty compact swing today and hit two singles right up the middle, which I wasn't expecting given his recent long-swinging, pull-crazy slump. Of course, he wasn't hitting offspeed stuff, since Drese mostly sticks with his sinking fastball, so facing Kenny Rogers tomorrow might be a challenge.
Rick Rizzs' call of Kevin Mench's inning-ending grounder to third in the eighth: The Holy Smokes! Heard 'Round The World.
Last bit of Fun With The Announcers - going into the bottom of the ninth, Rizzs chimed in with the following:
"Right now let's send it to our Seattle audience; we're going to send it to Kevin Calabro as the Sonics get ready at Key Arena to take on Sacramento. Kevin?
Aaaand again, welcome back to Ameriquest Field here in Arlington, Texas, where the Mariners now lead the Rangers by a score of 7-4..."
Really, it's comedy gold. MLB.tv is so worth the price.
Ryan Franklin takes on Kenny Rogers tomorrow at 8:05pm EDT. Don't expect Ryan to let Joel run away with the home run title without a fight.