To the bullet points!
- Gil Meche has quickly thrown away much of the goodwill and trust he earned with his earlier 2-3 month hot streak. For the third consecutive start, he stood on the hill with little semblance of command and got worn down by an Oakland lineup that was more than happy to wait him out. His first inning was all right, but between the second and fifth he fell behind 13 of the 23 batters he faced and got into three-ball counts against seven of them. Since his stuff isn't great enough on its own, Gil is pretty clearly someone who needs to have a real good idea of where the ball's going in order to have success, and he hasn't had that since beating New York four starts ago. It's possible that this is an aberration and that he'll look good again for the rest of the year, but it's also possible that he's wearing down, since he's on pace to throw the most innings of his career. The last time he topped 150 innings (2003), he faded badly down the stretch and wasn't quite right again until August of the following season. That's not good. By all means, Gil, best of luck to you wherever you're playing in 2007. I'll be more than happy with the draft pick compensation, the only reward we get for putting up with your bullshit for more than a decade.
- On a related note, it became clear early on that Gil didn't have pinpoint command of his stuff today, so it was up to Kenji Johjima to call pitches and set up in places that had reasonable margins of error. Imagine my surprise, then, when Kenji set up for a high 0-2 fastball in the top of the third against Frank Thomas. And imagine my lack of surprise when the pitch was drilled into the left field upper deck.
Granted, Gil missed his target by a few inches, but that's an absolutely terrible decision on Kenji's part. For one thing, if you're going to call for a high fastball, call for a high fastball - don't set your glove at Thomas' belt. For another, what made him believe that Gil was actually going to hit the glove in the first place? He'd already missed a ton of spots, and a pitcher has worse command of high pitches than he does anything else (the result of having to release the ball earlier in his delivery), so Kenji was just asking for trouble here. Friendly notice: if Frank Thomas looks stupid swinging at first-pitch and second-pitch curveballs, you might want to consider a third pitch that moves as well. Gil's fastball certainly doesn't do that.
- This comes as news to approximately none of us, but Adam Jones very clearly is not ready for the Majors. His power is nowhere to be found and he's incapable of doing anything with a big league curveball, particularly of the low variety. This is neither surprising nor a critique of Jones himself, considering he just turned 21 a few days ago, and few people his age would look any better. He's only going to improve.
That said, the danger of aggressive promotion is one of damaging confidence, and the Mariners really can't afford to dick around with such a significant part of the franchise's future. The risk here is that, frustrated by his lack of success in Seattle, Jones decides that his current approach can't cut it in the bigs and gives himself a batting makeover, becoming a different hitter than the Adam Jones the Mariners drafted and hurried through the system. This is both damaging and unnecessary, because the problem is all pitch recognition, and instead of changing his swing, Jones needs to change how he reads balls out of pitchers' hands. The Mariner coaching staff is going to play a huge part in how Jones develops - Pentland needs to spend a lot of time working with him and convincing him that his approach isn't the problem, because left to himself, Jones might do a lot of harm. (He might also be a lot smarter and more confident than I'm giving him credit for, but as an outsider, I have no way of knowing, so I'd rather it be in the coach's hands.)
- As proof that you're never too irrelevant to have a mortal enemy who hates every fiber of your being, I present to you Probably Rich Guy With Sunglasses' reaction to Greg Dobbs' pinch-hit appearance in the bottom of the sixth (hint - that's not his nose):
It's nice to know there was at least one person at Safeco this afternoon who thinks as much of Dobbs as we do.
There's more to be said, but I don't feel like saying it. Games that end with Willie Ballgame getting the final at bat have a way of putting me in an ill temper. Tampa Bay comes to town tomorrow night, with Jamie Moyer going up against some guy I've never heard of at 7:05pm PDT. I'd predict that the Mariners will win, or lose trying, but it might be the other way around.