Can you believe that the Mariners have won four of the eight series they've played so far? If you answered "no" - and I'm pretty sure you did - it's probably because when this team is bad, it's really, really bad, and when they win they still leave you feeling a little bewildered more than anything else, thereby creating something of an emotional imbalance between how we respond to wins and losses. It's not particularly fun and it breeds a spirit of unwavering pessimism, which sucks, but I guess that's what you get when you're a fan of a team that's spent so much money to lose so many games in the last few years. Perhaps you need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel before you get legitimately excited about the outcome of a single game.
Which is all a complicated and nonsensical way of saying, hey, the Mariners have won two series in a row! Just because it doesn't necessarily feel like it doesn't make it any less true.
Let's get a little chart action:
Biggest Contribution: Eddie Guardado!!!, +21.8%
Biggest Suckfest: Adrian Beltre, -18.4%
Most Important Hit: Everett double, +23.2%
Most Important Pitch: Fahey strikeout, +25.8%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +52.9%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -4.8%
Have you ever been searching for a particular image when out of the blue you run across another one that's just absolutely perfect and impossible to pass up? Yeah, there you go. I couldn't have thought up a more appropriate picture in a million years.
Anyway, I've started noticing a pattern - whenever I complain about Jamie Moyer in the early going, saying something along the lines of "he doesn't look long for this game," he always fires back with a 6+ inning quality start. Which may lead one to wonder why I don't say something like that every time, but the superstitious side of me is afraid it might not work so well if I try to force it. Jamie didn't look all that good this afternoon, getting drilled into the outfield with regularity without missing any bats, but for the bajillionth time in his career he did enough to "keep his team in the game," a cheerier way of saying that while he could've been better, he also could've been a lot worse. He's still the same pitcher he's always been, with the only new development today being that Jamie apparently prefers throwing to Rene Rivera, who's caught each of his last two starts. I don't really like the idea of guys having "personal catchers," since the only thing worse than a player getting occasional opportunities to kill the lineup is a player getting regularly scheduled opportunities to kill the lineup, but I don't think anyone in the organization is in position to tell Jamie what he can and can't do, so we're pretty much left at Jamie's whim. I guess I won't complain too much as long as Rivera is hitting home runs into left field, but I'm a little skeptical that he's capable of doing that on a daily basis.
Perhaps out of fear that another 1-2-3 inning would convince too many viewers to do something else with their time, the Mariner offense showed up an inning earlier than the day before, using two singles, a walk, a steal, a passed ball, and a double to climb out in front with a 4-3 lead. Does Jamie get upset when Carl Everett delivers the game-winning hit? Probably not, but it's something to wonder, since - like Willie - Carl is just tons of fun to think about. What isn't so much fun to think about is the fact that some of the guys I complained about most during the winter are making the biggest contributions to the team while other guys I thought were due to break out are shitting the bed, but hopefully by now you've come to realize that this place shouldn't be your first stop for accurate, reliable analysis, since most of the time I'm totally wrong. Adrian Beltre is a bargain at $64m/5yr? What? You have no proof that I ever said that. Leave me alone.
Speaking of Beltre, watching his at bats these days only serves to confirm both the existence and value of advance scouting. Outside fastball. Outside fastball. Outside slider. Outside fastball. He just doesn't get any pitches on the inner half of the plate. And why should he? He's prone to destroying those on occasion, which no opposing team wants to see happen. So they pitch him away and let him get himself out, either by trying to pull the ball and grounding out weakly to short or lifting the ball into the air for a shallow fly out to right field. I don't mean to sound too down on him, since he is starting to hit the ball the other way a little more often and with a little more authority than before, but until he drives a few of those pitches off or over the RF wall he's just going to keep getting approached the same way, and it's going to keep sucking for us to watch. The only thing that can make a pitcher change the way he attacks a hitter is for the hitter to make him pay on a ball that the pitcher put right where he wanted to. That's it. What this means for Beltre is that a few singles and doubles the other way could open the door for a power surge as pitchers might start going inside again, but until he actually proves himself capable of hitting those singles and doubles, he won't be doing much of anything. Why they haven't set him up in batting practice with a pitching machine throwing balls over the outer black for five hours at a time is beyond me.
I'd write something about Eddie Guardado here, but the mere mention of his name is probably enough to give you goosebumps, so let's just skip over that one for now.
Ichiro BA, April 16th: .185
Ichiro GB/FB, April 16th: 1.00
Ichiro BA, April 30th: .287
Ichiro GB/FB, April 30th: 1.59
When I pitched in high school, there was a little white shortstop on our team named Matt LaPointe. If you only watched our games, you didn't notice him, since he never played, but he was really something to behold in daily practice. The kid was three-foot nothing and about 17 pounds but he'd give everything he could every day, participating in infield drills and running and taking BP like everyone else with nary a whimper. And it was solely out of respect for his effort that nobody else ever said anything either, because ability-wise, he was terrible - he couldn't hit the ball out of the infield because he had the slowest bat of all time, and he wasn't much of a shortstop because he had bad footwork and at times it looked like a bunt could knock him over. He was the textbook zero-tool player who couldn't even manage to look good in a uniform. Everything about seeing him on a baseball field was wrong.
I only bring this up because this afternoon I saw LaPointe playing baseball again in the person of Oriole shortstop Brandon Fahey. Promoted from AAA after Brian Roberts hurt himself, this is a guy who saved money on airfare by catching a light breeze from Ottawa to Baltimore in time to suit up for today's game. If you weren't watching, I'm afraid my words can't really do justice to the experience of seeing Fahey hit, field, or just stand around in his billowing jersey, but Google is able to make up for some of that by offering the following pictures of his pencil legs and hysterically unassuming face. He's kind of cute, in the way that the parakeets at Petco are cute, and you can stand there and laugh next to their cages watching them eat and yawn and ruffle their feathers for hours on end without ever getting bored. To top it all off, Fahey's mother and father were in the stands personally videotaping everything their little boy did on the field like the parents of a three year old at his first T-ball game. It was everything Fahey could do to not fall over when he fielded his first grounder and promptly overthrew Jeff Conine. Of course, the whole thing got slightly less cute when Fahey went 2-4 and scored a run (someone's been eating his Flintstone vitamins), but his strikeout against Eddie in the ninth made everything better. I guarantee you the guy sleeps with a nightlight.
To Minnesota tomorrow, as Joel Pineiro takes on Scott Baker and the slumping Twins at 5:10pm PDT.