- While it's easy to say "it's still April, don't worry about the standings," the fact of the matter is that, as of this writing, the M's are four games back of both the A's and the Angels. If you thought it'd be tough to be one game better than these teams over six months, it'll be that much tougher to be five games better than them over five. Every game matters. Our odds are worse now than they were on Opening Day, and regardless of why it's turned out this way, that's bad. It's time to start winning. Our team isn't young enough to rely on second-half hot streaks like the A's of the earlier aughts.
- If you're able to look past the eighth inning - and I know that's tough - Felix was awesome. Through seven, he'd allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out ten batters, all on 92 pitches. Starts don't get much more dominating, and what's most breathtaking is how he did it working mostly off of his fastball. Felix entered the game with a fastball percentage of 59%, but today it darted up to 71%, as for much of the day the A's just exhibited no ability whatsoever to catch up to his heat. Before the eighth they'd swung at missed at the fastball as many time as they'd put it on play. The top of the second, of course, was the highlight, as Felix told Frank Thomas, Jack Cust, and Bobby Crosby to eat shit and die, but the A's were eating shit and dying for seven innings, and it was only diminished command later on that finally allowed them to participate in the game. Try not to let the final score cloud your judgment, here. In my book, Felix's star only got brighter.
- I've thought about holding this against McLaren, but as much as I want to, in good conscience I don't think I can. Yeah, Felix wound up throwing 110+ pitches for the fourth consecutive start, but if you're McLaren, and you see your ace throwing 98 in the eighth inning, and you know how unreliable your bullpen has been so far, I think you have to let the guy try to work his way out. God knows Felix hasn't exactly made a habit out of struggling in the later innings, and today could've been a whole hell of a lot different with a few better breaks - Hannahan and Barton fouled off a combined six 3-2 pitches before drawing their eighth inning walks, and Brown's tying single came off a broken bat. Felix was mighty close to escaping today, but he didn't, and I'm more inclined to just give the A's credit for good at bats than I am to hold some Mariner responsible.
- You know what would've made things a lot easier on everyone? Run support. If the score were like 4-0 or 5-0 then McLaren would've had a much easier time going to the bullpen earlier than he did. This is getting embarrassing. The Mariners must be the only team in the league whose #5 hitter is an NRI they picked up in February. At the moment there are exactly three batters in whom I have any kind of faith, and while McLaren talks about how some of the guys have to get it going, it seems like it ought to be the front office's responsibility to determine who's actually capable of getting it going in the first place. There's no time to dawdle and let Vidro and Wilkerson and maybe/probably Sexson prove to everyone how done they are. At least one of our problem spots needs to be addressed right quick, and by that I don't mean giving tons more playing time to Norton or Willie Ballgame. This lineup needs more talent, and it needs it now.
- And, yeah, I'm at the point now where I'm totally ready to call Wilkerson finished. I was willing to give him a shot, but he hasn't demonstrated any kind of ability at all, and his bat speed seems nothing short of awful. Not only does he not yet have a home run, but I can't even picture what him hitting a home run would look like. I can't imagine it happening. That has to be somehow meaningful. It's really, really sad that Willie Ballgame might just represent an improvement as an everyday player.
- Mike Morse still sucks so don't even start
- I absolutely cannot believe that an intelligent team like the Oakland A's has put itself in a position where Jack Cust is starting in the outfield. I criticize Raul Ibanez all the time for his lack of range - and rightfully so - but I think Jack Cust is quite literally the worst defensive outfielder I've ever seen in my life. He's a slow, plodding son of a bitch, and just today he cost his team a pair of doubles by misplaying a Lopez fly ball in the first and a Wilkerson fly ball in the sixth. He sucks. He sucks! And he's not even that good of a bat. There's not a chance he repeats last year's .366 BABIP (regress that to .300 and his BA drops from .256 to .223), which makes him a guy with two good strengths and countless glaring weaknesses. As long as he's playing the field, it's my opinion that, overall, he won't be helping the A's win any games.
- Santiago Casilla, however, will be helping the A's win games. Santiago Casilla is really good. If I'm not mistaken he threw Brad Wilkerson a 92mph slider, which pretty much on its own is enough to blow me the fuck away.