I'm going to be honest with you - the game just ended two hours ago and already I've pretty much forgotten about it entirely as I've turned my attention to the upcoming deadline. I have a vague recollection that it was pretty dull, then totally awesome, then nerve-wracking, then totally awesome again, but I can't go back and feel old feelings, so I apologize for this letdown of a wrap-up.
But hey, the M's have won seven of their last ten, gaining two games on both Oakland and Anaheim over that span while gaining four on Texas. They're back at two under .500 for the first time since July 14th with an upcoming series against the bad and potentially Tejada-less Orioles coming up. As was the case in June, I won't let myself get too excited until they have at least as many wins as losses, but they're getting there. Again.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Lopez, +45.8%
Biggest Suckfest: Kenji Johjima, -18.0%
Most Important Hit: Lopez single, +39.3%
Most Important Pitch: Martinez DP, +14.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +20.7%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +28.4%
- In his last three starts, Joel Pineiro has gone up against three of the top offenses in the league and allowed eight runs in 19 innings while posting a 14/5 K/BB. The stretch of schedule that looked like it could effectively end Joel's career in Seattle has done just the opposite, all but ensuring that he remains in the rotation beyond the deadline. He's easily the worst pitcher of the group, but if he has to stick around, at least there's reason for a little hope - aside from his recent success, his xFIP is under five, which isn't terrible for a fifth starter. The key for him, just as it is with Felix, is to throw fewer fastballs, because Joel's fastball is slow and sucks. He needs to make better use of his curve, because while it's not the sharp power curve it used to be, it still has a lot of break, and hitters haven't been able to do much with it all season (.329 BA vs. heaters, .238 vs. curves). Everybody knows that Joel's become a junkballer. Now it's time for him to start pitching like one.
- Adam Jones, meet left field. Left field, Adam Jones. The following is his hit distribution since getting called up:
This is for a right-handed hitter. Every manager loves a guy who can hit the other way, but not at the total expense of his power stroke. Jones has completely changed his approach since coming up to Seattle, sitting back on pitches in an effort to just make contact. He's reacting late and letting the pitcher supply the power, and while this is working for him to some extent (he's hit a couple of recent lasers into RF), it's not Adam Jones. I want to see him start to get in front of some balls, but it's possible that the four-strikeout game the other day spooked him into trying to put the bat on everything (he hasn't struck out since). Keep an eye on this one. If and when Adam starts bouncing doubles off the left field fence, you'll know he's arrived. Until then, he'll just keep looking like a different hitter.
- Early on I was all set to rip Jose Lopez a new one - on top of his not hitting at all, suddenly it looked like his head just wasn't in the game, as he made an error on a routine groundball and failed to tag up from second on a deep fly ball to RF. The latter prompted Mike Hargrove to visibly mouth the words "son of a bitch" in the dougout. Funny what a tie-breaking two-run single can do to change a writer's mind, though. With luck, today's effort will be just what Jose needs to get going again; as you can see in the WPA ratings, he pretty much won this game by himself.
- Cleveland broadcast, top of the ninth, Greg Dobbs pinch-hitting. I promise I'm not making this up:
Before the season started, Dobbs...they did a lot of work trying to work on his swing. Get him to hit line drives more, straighten out what they said was his 'path to the baseball.'
Finding out for the first time that Dobbs' 2004/2005 swing wasn't picture-perfect caused the left side of my brain to explode.
- Richie Sexson since June 3rd: .250/.314/.549. The power is clearly back, as he's hit 16 homers in his last 184 at bats. However, the walks aren't - over the same span, he's only drawing a walk every 10.7 plate appearances, as opposed to 7.4 last season and 9.7 for his career. I can't tell you why this is; if I had to guess, I'd say he's just been getting more strikes because opposing pitchers look at his line and don't feel as threatened. If this is true, then he should start walking more as the season wears on and his numbers get better. There's no indication that he's ending his at bats any "quicker" than he used to. Here's why this is an issue - entering the season, Sexson looked like the only patient hitter in the lineup. He hasn't lived up to the billing, and as a result it comes as no surprise that the Mariners rank dead last in walks drawn as a team. The team leader is Raul Ibanez with 41, and 12 of those have been intentional. Right now there isn't a single hitter on the roster capable of getting on base even when he's slumping, and what happens is that, on any given night, we're capable of seeing these guys fall asleep and hit like they did against Jeremy Sowers the other day. The Mariners needs an OBP guy at the top of the order in the worst way (paging Rickey Henderson). It's hard to believe how much this team's offense has changed in three years.
- If I see one more opposing outfielder make a full-extension diving catch, I'm going to murder Reed Johnson, because he's the asshole who started this whole thing in the first place.
To Camden tomorrow, with Gil Meche going up against Baltimore's statistical approximation of Jon Lester at 4:05pm PDT.