If you would've told me Saturday afternoon that the Padres were going to hit seven home runs over the next two games and lose them both, I would've called you crazy - not just because Petco is ordinarily death to fly balls, but also because seven home runs is a friggin' load, and worth a lot on the scoreboard. The estimated run value of a longball is ~1.4, and 1.4 * 7 = 9.8. Even if you assume ahead of time that San Diego only scores on those homers, spotting them ten runs over two games in that ballpark is usually a good way to pick up a pair of losses.
...alas, it was not to be, and while this wasn't quite as enjoyable as watching the M's whoop up on those clowns from Anaheim on their own field, I'm not going to complain, not after I got to strut my way down the ramp and out of the stadium in my Ichiro jersey two times in 18 hours. With the way this team has gone up and down over the past few weeks, I'm not really sure what to say about "momentum" and all that, but it's impossible not to feel good about a 15-7 June and a won-loss record that's one game below .500 after the way the season began. I mentioned this the other day, but it bears repeating - all of a sudden I've started getting really emotionally invested in Mariner games again, fidgeting and rocking back and forth in tight situations and clapping and yelling when they take the lead or get a big strikeout. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about, too, because I bet you feel the same way, and I think that says more about the way the season is going right now than words ever could.
Here come the Mariners. And with the D'backs on deck - losers of 17 of their last 20 - this thing might just be starting.
To the chart!
Biggest Contribution: Richie Sexson, +54.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Joel Pineiro, -29.8%
Most Important Hit: Sexson homer #2, +29.9%
Most Important Pitch: Bellhorn triple, -21.0%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -12.1%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +43.7%
Here's another way of looking at it:
Richie Sexson: +54.6%
Rest of team: -23.0%
Not too hard to figure out who deserved the game ball in this one, as Richie was almost singlehandedly responsible for giving the team three separate leads. His OPS jumped 47 points to a more respectable (albeit still horrifying) .720, leaving the lineup with only two regulars below .700. Slowly but surely, the automatic outs are getting replaced by at least moderately productive bats capable of prolonging rallies and driving in runs. It's nice to know that, outside of some kind of cruel Bloomquist/Reed/Rivera day game arrangement after Hargrove's knocked back a little mid-morning Wild Turkey, opposing pitchers aren't going to have very many easy innings against this team.
Back to the ol' reliable bullet points:
- No, I don't have any idea why the ball was carrying so well in this series. On a normal day at Petco, both Greene and Johnson's homers probably go for doubles instead, which would've made Pineiro's final line look better than it did. Again, I can't get a real good idea of how well a guy's throwing from second-deck outfield seats, but Joel looked "okay" - not too good, but not too bad. The five strikeouts is a little deceiving, because he only induced seven swinging strikes all game (this seems to be a recurring issue, on account of Joel's repertoire blows), but at least he was having pretty good success pitching around the zone. He should probably save the ball he used to strike Brian Giles out looking to lead off the fourth, because that's one hell of an achievement. Giles is one of those guys like Ichiro where, if he doesn't offer at a pitch, it's almost certainly a ball. It's a different kind of approach, but even though his power numbers have eroded, he's still one of the most intimidating hitters in baseball, precisely because he's in control of virtually every plate appearance he has all year.
- Congratulations to Richie Sexson on the first five-hit day of his career. The first homer he hit was an absolute no-doubter as soon as it came off the bat, the type of bomb that makes you think he's due to go all kinds of crazy in the second half if he gets his timing down. The second one didn't look nearly as good (although, since it was an opposite-field shot, that's totally forgiven), and because my view of the right-center wall was obscured by the seats in front of me I didn't know what happened until I heard everyone groan and saw Richie jogging around first. Didn't stop me from being the only guy in my section clapping as soon as he hit it, though (but not more than 16 times).
- The Mariners have now had three different guys have two-homer games in two days. When I went on Retrosheet to try and figure out the last time that happened, the internet broke, which I guess means it's been a while.
Overheard at the ballpark:
Lady #1: "Hey, where's Rick?"
Lady #2: "I just got off the phone with him, he said he went to Qualcomm!"
Lady #1: "What?!"
Lady #2: "Yeah, so he's going to hop on a trolley to get over here."
Lady #1: "I hope you give him a lot of crap about that when he shows up."
Rick - San Diego's most hardcore baseball fan.
- I didn't think much of it when it happened, but apparently the most controversial moment of the game was Carl Everett's full-count walk in the top of the eighth to load the bases for Ichiro. The Padres thought it was a strike, Paul Nauert didn't, and the Mariners went on to score another three runs to take a commanding lead. Josh Bard was then called out on the same pitch in the bottom half, prompting a heated verbal exchange that got both Bard and Bruce Bochy ejected. Replays confirm that the two pitches were virtually identical, and deserved to be strikes, so the Padres have reason to be upset. That said, I've always been of the mindset that umpires are just another part of the "luck" equation that teams have to deal with on a game-by-game basis. Sometimes they make controversial calls in your favor, sometimes they make them against you, and it's not worth getting all up in arms over a call that didn't go your way because by the end of the season, the good and the bad are probably going to balance out. Hell, I'd say the Mariners deserved this one after the call at first base on Everett's grounder a few days ago in LA (See? It's evening out already). Today's was a questionable ball to be sure, but if the Padres were that upset about it, they probably shouldn't have let the Mariners score another four runs. The Win Expectancy value of Everett's walk: +1.5%. The WE value of Ichiro's single: +15.3%. Don't allow the single and the walk is irrelevant.
- Josh Bard is going to get suspended. I've never seen a player get that mad at an umpire in person - if not for whoever was holding him back, Bard looked like he was going to castrate Paul Nauert with his bare hands and make him suffocate to death on his own testicles. That wasn't the worst part of it, though; no, while Bard spent a good 20-30 seconds circling the umpire and shouting all kinds of things I'm glad I couldn't hear from right field, what did him in was pointing his bat at Nauert early in the confrontation, and then chucking his helmet in Nauert's direction after returning to the dugout. The league is very, very protective of its umpires, and this kind of aggressive, threatening behavior won't be tolerated. Bard's probably looking at three games, with a shot at two after appealing.
- If it was absolutely necessary for someone on San Diego to homer in all three games, I'm glad it was Mike Cameron.
- Roughly 60% of all home runs are solo shots. The odds of all 14 of this weekend's bombs being of the one-run variety: 0.00078 (0.078%).
- While I love George Sherrill, and am thankful for the way he pitched this afternoon, I don't think bringing him in to face three consecutive righties in the bottom of the seventh was a very good idea. That situation had "Sean Green" (who warmed up about 239872639478232 times today) written all over it.
- The only thing cooler than Rafael Soriano: one-inning reliever is Rafael Soriano: two-inning reliever. You knew this game was over the instant he jogged in from the bullpen.
- My Quote Of The Series comes from last night, when my friend and I were discussing the strangely doll-like appearance of Yuniesky Betancourt's photo on the scoreboard:
Friend: "It looks like you could mass-produce his face."
- There's other stuff to talk about, like the whole Jeremy Reed sucking situation, but I'm losing steam, so we'll leave that for another day.
Off tomorrow before indulging in a three-game set against the reeling Diamondbacks in Arizona (6:40pm PDT first pitch for each game). 38-39. Think happy thoughts.