If the Mariners want to prove me right about this whole "turning things around" deal, they'll need to do it on Friday against last year's NL ERA leader. Fortunately, we'll have our best starter out there trying to match zeros (I don't know if I'm joking or not), so at least there's a reason to tune in.
Shows what I know.
Realistically, I should've known better. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Mariners getting shut down by any right-handed pitcher with even a modicum of ability. Not to take anything away from Jake Peavy, who was fantastic, but if he wants to make a name for himself, he should try accomplishing something that hasn't already been done by the likes of Jeremi Gonzalez, Chien-Ming Wang, and John Lackey since the start of the month.
The lineup looked even more helpless than usual, striking out ten times in seven innings against Peavy while making solid contact about as often as Raul Ibanez looks comfortable catching a routine fly ball. With Franklin on the mound, you have a pretty good idea before the game even starts that they aren't going to score too many runs for him, but even if you prepare yourself for the worst viewing experience of your life, they still manage to suck you in and stick a knife in your back with every feeble attempt at a two-strike breaking ball. By the time it's over, everything hurts and the last three hours feel like a concentrated amalgam of misery and anguish.
The chart tells the story:
Once again, the high point came early, peaking with Franklin retiring Ryan Klesko to end the top of the first. It was all downhill from there, as Franklin struggled with his command and Matt Thornton took care to allow the runs that Franklin forgot about in his haste to exit the game. The high point of the game - Miguel Olivo's home run - was rendered virtually meaningless on account of the deficit. I'd say that it was a total snoozer, except that Peavy put on a spectacular show which - provided you can separate yourself from your loyalties for a minute - was fun to watch. Remember when we had talented young pitchers? Good times, they were.
As you can see from the chart, this was another "team" loss, as eight players combined to hurt their chances of winning by 63.5%. Nobody was single-handedly awful, but the combination of a bunch of underperforming arms and bats manages to leave the impression that everybody sucked. One guy who suffers the unfortunate fate of being hurt by the numbers is Adrian Beltre, who shows up at -0.096 despite killing the ball in two of his four at bats. He clobbered one of the few well-hit Jake Peavy pitches right at Ryan Klesko in the fourth, and later hit a bullet on the ground that Sean Burroughs knocked down in the sixth. You have to think that these balls will eventually start dropping in for hits, but even if/when they do...then what? Balls in play are different from home runs, and he's on pace to slash last year's longball total by two-thirds. When he's hitting the ball well, it's usually either on or just above the ground, meaning that he isn't elevating his line drives enough to clear the fence. What's more is that he isn't taking advantage of fastball counts when he gets into them. Consider today's first inning AB against Peavy as an example - after getting ahead 3-0, Beltre takes a strike, whiffs on a fastball over the plate, then whiffs on a fastball off the plate outside for the strikeout. It just doesn't feel like he has a good idea of what he can and can't hammer right now, which is a problem when it comes to working the count and trying to stay disciplined at the plate.
As much as people like to talk about Ryan Franklin's low run support hurting his pitching (26 runs in eight starts), he's not exactly helping his own cause by walking five and giving up a home run for the seventh straight start. You want to see some distressing numbers? Check these out:
12.0% K, 7.0% BB
10.0% K, 10.0% BB
The strikeouts are down, the walks are up, and the home runs are the same. That, my friends, is the perfect recipe for one hell of a toboggan ride off the cliff before long if things don't change. For a guy known for his command, Franklin's been way off this year, and that's something he just can't afford to keep up long-term if he has any hopes of lasting in the rotation. Given that he's the only guy who even remotely resembles a capable starter right now, we'd all better hope that he figures out what's wrong before the drop-off picks up too much steam.
If you couldn't see things getting much worse the minute Matt Thornton came into the game, you haven't watched the Mariners enough.
We saw the Major League debut of Jorge Campillo tonight, fittingly against the team he grew up following (he was born in Tijuana, just minutes south of San Diego). My first impression: the reports are dead-on, everything he throws is slow. The thing is, it's a different kind of slow, the kind of slow that actually tries to make you miss the ball completely, rather than just screwing with your timing. Because he only threw an inning, and because it was his debut, it was hard to learn very much about the guy (I'm writing off some of his control problems as being nervous) from his appearance, but it's pretty clear that the changeup is his #1 pitch, and that he's comfortable using it in any count. Which is good, because his fastball didn't look like anything to write home about. I'm not entirely sure, and there are others who probably know better, but it looked like Campillo throws two different changeups - one straight change around 79-81, and a more conventional version around 74-76 that breaks down and away from righties. I've always had a problem identifying pitches, though, so take that with a grain of salt. The Padres broadcast compared Campillo's off-speed stuff to Trevor Hoffman's, which may be a little over the top, but I think he looked good enough to warrant, y'know, the outright release of Aaron Sele.
In the early innings, the Padres broadcast also compared Miguel Olivo to a beefed-up Tiger Woods, in terms of physical appearance. It got me thinking: are the two really all that different?
Age: Woods: 29. Olivo: 26
College Education: Woods: Stanford. Olivo: N/A
Avg. Driving Distance: Woods: 305.2. Olivo: around 150.0.
Driving Accuracy: Woods: 55.3%. Olivo: 15.5%
Money Earned in 2005: Woods: $3.8m. Olivo: $0.4m
Wife Attractiveness Index: Woods: 100. Olivo: 25
Mentions During Chappelle's Racial Draft: Woods: 1. Olivo: 0
2006 PECOTA OPS Projection: Woods: .700. Olivo: .450
Nothing else to say about tonight's game. They go right back at it tomorrow at 7:05pm PDT, as Gil Meche faces off against Brian Lawrence.