It's tough when the busiest week of your life overlaps with the second round of an international baseball tournament that came out of nowhere to capture your undivided attention. March was supposed to be my productive month. I was going to work my ass off for four weeks and clear my schedule in time for Opening Day. I hadn't planned on having so much quality baseball to watch. Fifteen years from now, when I'm working in a shoe store and wondering what could have been had I not dropped out of college, I'm blaming Bud Selig's friggin' WBC. Thanks for ruining my life, four-eyes.
Anyhoo, with Joel Pineiro getting pulled from his start against Venezuela after 4.2 innings (and 72 pitches), the Mariners are officially done for the day. Pineiro's line: 20 batters faced, seven baserunners, one bomb, three walks, and three strikeouts. Nothing awful, but certainly nothing worth celebrating, either, especially when you consider that he gave up the home run to a guy whose top PECOTA comp is Jason Tyner. Joel flashed his share of quality pitches, but it's never really been a question of "stuff" with him - it's more about using the right pitches at the right time and spotting them in the right places, and that's where he most frequently runs into trouble. And those mechanics...I keep picking on the guy, but honestly, I'd say the odds are pretty good that he winds up hurting his elbow or shoulder early in the season, not telling anyone about it, then sucking for a half-dozen starts or so until someone finally wises up and gets him looked at. The chances of that happening are at least as good as those of his bouncing back to 2002 form. But hey, I don't want to be a Negative Nancy, so how about this - after two starts, Pineiro's GB/FB ratio is 2.00. Two-seamers everywhere! Weeeee!!
Keeping with the WBC thing, reader H Koenig sent me a link to this THT article, with particular attention paid to the following paragraph:
That guy just has a way with people.
In substantially more boring action, the Mariners lost to Anaheim, 6-3. Gil Meche made a triumphant return to the mound, retiring six of the seven batters he faced while fanning three and having little trouble with his left-side oblique. Travis Blackley got kicked around in relief, though, and Jeff Harris made sure to allow another two runs to put the game out of reach. Folklore has it that when you use a pitcher with an ERA of 9.00 or higher in a game, an angel gets his wings torn, his ring fingers shattered, and his incisors ripped out with a pair of white-hot rusty pliers operated by the vengeful soul of a bitter Visigoth. Today, the Mariners used five. Mike Hargrove isn't making himself any friends for the afterlife.
Meche aside, I suppose the team highlights were Kenji Johjima going 2-3, Jose Lopez driving in a run, and Renee Cortez pitching an inning without forcing the umpires to both develop and invoke a mercy rule on the fly. That about covers it. Fortunately, I'm still riding the wave of last year's pre-ASB sweep in Anaheim, so at least we still have that, I guess.
Another portion of the Mariners took on the Rangers in a mid-morning "B" game, but aside from Jamie Moyer allowing five runs in four innings, I have absolutely no idea what happened. And given that pitching line, it's probably better this way.
Jesse Foppert, Bobby Livingston, George Sherrill, Luis Gonzalez, and Francisco Cruceta against the Cubs tomorrow. Foppert really needs to start wowing some people if he wants a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the roster, and tomorrow's as good a day to start as any. Maybe this time he won't keep an injured middle finger to himself while throwing ball after ball at 88mph. Oh, to be young and learning.