This is what the Continental Army would've felt like had they traded Benedict Arnold for Lord Cornwallis in 1779.^
Let's be honest - Shin-soo Choo didn't beat us, Jeremy Sowers did. True, Choo supplied the only run of the game, but it wouldn't have mattered if the Mariners actually bothered to swing the bats a little bit, which they very clearly didn't. In Win Probability terms, Sowers earned the coveted Biggest Contribution award, while Choo came in second. So there.
Regardless of who was most responsible for the result, though, the whole game still totally sucked, and for a multitude of reasons:
- Lineup shut down by another lefty, suggesting that the problem wasn't only with the DH. A playoff-caliber batting order shouldn't have a cleanup hitter batting .208 against southpaws.
- Dull, narrow loss = instant harsh of the Wednesday/Thursday buzz. As neat as the DFA and trade were two days ago, the team really needs to do something exciting on the field to re-energize the fan base. A dominant pitching performance, a walkoff homer, a play at the plate, anything that makes us shout (happy things) and leaves us wide-eyed until we go to bed. As dumb as it sounds, those are the kinds of things that can fool/convince a fan into believing that his team is going to make some noise down the stretch.
- Felix looked as bad as I've ever seen him, missing the zone like it's going out of style and only avoiding complete disaster by the slimmest of margins. I mentioned it during the game thread, but it bears repeating - this must be how Baltimore fans feel after watching Daniel Cabrera. 49% of Felix's pitches tonight were strikes. 49%. Matt Thornton could throw strikes 49% of the time if a 6'5 blog author were shooting bullets at his feet to "make him dance a little."
- Jose Lopez continued his tailspin and hit a sub-.750 OPS for the first time since April 23. He hasn't homered for nearly two months, he hasn't doubled for one, and he's dragging us down from the top of the lineup. I suppose you could blame some of his decline on having to put up with a hormonal baby's momma but it's not like this is a week-old phenomena; it's been developing for a while, and until Jose is able to make the necessary adjustments we won't get much out of second base. Time for what seems like a frequent reminder: Jose Lopez is a very talented player and I'm glad he's a Mariner, but he's not as good as people thought he was in April. Not yet.
- Todd Hollandsworth, whose arm was once described as being the "sapless vestigial legacy of an ancestral generation in which people hunted lettuce and never picked anything up" by me just now, threw Ichiro out at the plate in the first inning, effectively killing a rally and setting the tone for the rest of the game.
- For one night, Shin-soo Choo did everything I didn't think he'd be able to do very well in the Majors - hit for power, draw walks, and make routine catches in the outfield without looking like he's trying to shake the cameraman. He's still the same guy who began his ML career 2-for-29, and I don't regret trading him away, but God damn, he couldn't have asked for a better Cleveland debut. Anyone watching could tell that it took three plate appearances for the guy to totally win over everyone in attendance. "Choo" is the new "Lou."
- Julio Mateo made another needless appearance in a close game. I don't really follow how Fangraphs calculates "Leverage Index," but I know that the higher your LI, the more important your average appearance, so imagine my surprise when I found out that Julio Mateo has a higher LI than Rafael Soriano this season. (When I say "imagine my surprise" I mean "imagine how not surprised I am.") With Bavasi and Everett out of the way, Bavasi's done a reasonable job removing Hargrove from his favorite toys, but there's still work to be done on that front.
Biggest Contribution: Felix Hernandez, +28.2% (Ha!)
Biggest Suckfest: Raul Ibanez, -27.1%
Most Important "Hit": Ibanez fielder's choice, -9.6%
Most Important Pitch: Choo homer, -18.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +36.0%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -89.2%
I don't have anything else to say about this game. Oakland lost but the Angels won, so the M's currently sit four games out of first place heading into the weekend. One of the advantages Bill Bavasi has right now is that he's not in a position where he has to commit fully to either buying or selling, since the foundation's already laid for a run at the pennant in 2007, but the next two days are still going to influence which way he leans come Monday's trade deadline (1pm PDT). There's certainly room for improvement on the current roster, but the team has to prove that addressing the holes is worth the effort and cost.
Washburn and Westbrook tomorrow at 4:05pm PDT (MLB.tv blackout ends at 4pm WOOOOO!!). Here's to Ben Broussard having a better debut than the guy we deemed less valuable than him.