It's difficult to overstate just how badly the Mariners needed a game like this. The first few innings aside, today was fun, easy, and comfortable, the kind of game that leaves you thinking nothing but optimistic thoughts after the final out is recorded because you don't want to let anything spoil the mood. Joel Pineiro tossed the team's first complete game of the season. Kenji Johjima broke out of a slump with three hits and a homer. Richie Sexson went deep for the first time since Cleveland. Adrian Beltre smashed the ball the other way a few times and then roped an inside fastball into left field for a late double. The lineup didn't draw a walk but still went 19-42 at the plate, improving its season batting average by a full ten points.
...and on and on and on. There's just no way to feel anything less than totally satisfied with the way this game played out. These are the things that can soothe a tense fan base and loosen up a roster that's been fighting itself since the season began. God bless Scott Baker and the rest of the Twins for providing at least a temporary cure for all of our problems.
To the chart:
Biggest Contribution: Kenji Johjima, +24.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Carl Everett, -6.2%
Most Important Hit: Johjima homer, +17.4%
Most Important Pitch: Ford single, -9.3%/Morneau DP, +9.3%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +20.2%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +29.8%
The only questionable decision I had to make in adding up today's Win Probability Added was figuring out how to score Kenji getting caught "stealing" second base in the top of the fourth. In the end, I decided to penalize Yuniesky Betancourt for the out, since it was very clearly intended to be a hit-and-run but he swung through the ball, hanging Kenji out to dry. But that's just my opinion, and your mileage may vary. This is why you'll almost never get identical WPA ratings from two different people tracking the same game. It's a fun tool, but it's also an inexact science.
Anyway, the following is a complete transcript of my game notes from tonight:
There's only so much you can do with that little material, so I say we should all just go to sleep happy with the team's performance and excited for tomorrow, when Jarrod Washburn gets to remind Johan Santana that he can't win if he doesn't get any runs. Yes, this is me acting confident that the Mariners can beat one of the best pitchers in baseball. You see what games like tonight's do to me? This is such an unusual feeling, I don't even know what to think anymore.