This game came within one pitch of being perhaps the most humiliating loss of the season.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Lopez, +46.8%
Biggest Suckfest: Adrian Beltre, -27.5%
Most Important AB: Lopez double, +51.8%
Most Important Pitch: Gonzalez home run, -17.7%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +31.9%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +18.1%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
(What is this chart?)
- Why would this have been arguably the most humiliating loss of the season? I'll tell you why. The Mariners made 24 outs at the plate today. 16 of those outs were made on balls out of the zone. SIXTEEN. Four times they made outs on ball four. They went 0-6 (with a double play to boot) in three-ball counts. Most of this came against Shawn flipping Estes, who may not have put even a quarter of his pitches inside the strike zone. It's unfathomable how bad this team is when it comes to distinguishing between balls and strikes. I feel like a front office would have to go out of its way to collect a bunch of hitters this stupid. It might be fashionable to blame Pentland for this, but honestly, what's he supposed to do? He can't fix anyone's brain if they don't give him the tools. This is just a lineup that loves to swing at trash, with the result being that I'll never feel comfortable giving us the edge in any given pitching matchup until something radically changes.
- Ironically the game-winning hit came on a first-pitch outside fastball that a more disciplined batter probably would've taken. After what felt like an entire weekend of watching Brian Giles own us by shooting balls the other way, it was nice to see Lopez burn the Padres by doing the same. He's one of only three guys in the lineup I trust to do anything good with that pitch. Kenji probably would've grounded it foul past third base somehow.
- Felix is broken. Not physically, but there's something seriously wrong here. He's throwing fewer strikes, he's missing fewer bats, and his groundball rate has dropped to an area alarmingly close to the league average. He's still good, but he's supposed to be so much more than this. I don't know exactly what the problem is - that would require a more exhaustive study than I could pull off at the moment - but I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with this:
2007 2008 Fastball% 56 65 Slider% 21 11 Curveball% 14 9 Changeup% 9 14
The fastball. He's relying on it significantly more often than he ever has in his Major League career, and it's come at the expense of his breaking pitches. Even when he's ahead in the count, he's still going to the heat. When ahead in the count (0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2) a year ago, Felix threw 50% fastballs. When ahead in the count so far this year, he's thrown 61% fastballs. My impression is that that's a significant difference, and it's unlikely to be a mistake - this doesn't seem like the kind of thing that happens by accident. This looks more like a plan. It'd be one thing if those fastballs when ahead in the count looked like the one Felix threw Kevin Kouzmanoff in the sixth, but too often they don't. I need to get to the bottom of this.
Update: Fangraphs and Kalk PITCHf/x 2007 data may not be accurate. Discussion in the comments.
- I've been informed that the Safeco PA was blaring Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows prior to the start of the game.
- There's nothing wrong with Sean Green. 20 pitches, 12 strikes, five routine groundouts. If Major League Baseball could pull itself away from the impression that effective late-inning relievers need to throw 96, Green would be in line for one hell of a lucrative career. Instead he's a 29 year old nobody making close to the minimum who makes the most talented of right-handed hitters look like feeble little girls and who doesn't have any biographical information listed on his official player page. I hope he at least gets mad tail, even though I'm sure he doesn't.
- JJ: still not back, but getting closer. Working back-to-back games for the first time since the start of the season, Putz threw a 1-2-3 ninth with a pair of strikeouts. Once again he couldn't find the zone with his best heat (96 this afternoon), but he had the wildly undisciplined Khalilbot Greene eating out of his hand, as he put him away with a low-away splitter that was identical to one thrown earlier in the at bat. The swinging strikes were nice to see. Unless he's still hiding some kind of injury, JJ can't be too far away from firing on all cylinders. If only that were likely to matter.
- Raul Ibanez drew two walks and stung a line drive into right field. He's clearly incapable of hitting when he's playing DH.
- The video of the Richie Sexson vs. Heath Bell at bat in the bottom of the seventh is all the proof you need that Richie's bat speed is gone and never coming back. Bell dialed up three consecutive high fastballs at 93-95 and Richie was late swinging through each one of them. He did manage to line an 88mph Shawn Estes fastball back up the middle in the fifth, but that's about as good a benchmark as being able to predict pitches from the dugout in Spring Training is for breaking camp on the bench.
- Jeff Clement was called up from Tacoma on April 30th to serve as the team's fairly regular DH, because Jose Vidro wasn't producing. Since that point, Vidro has gone 5-25 with zero walks and zero extra-base hits. Vidro has now reclaimed his role as the regular DH, with Clement's demotion. Because he's clearly earned it. Look, assholes, nothing's changed. Vidro is still the same pile of crap that just three weeks ago you thought was worth replacing. Don't give me the back injury excuse - that's new, and it's not why he's been bad. He's been bad because he's bad. Do you honestly think that giving him his job back is better for the team than putting Reed in left field and sliding Raul to DH? Or just putting Reed at DH and leaving Raul alone? Did you even consider these options? By calling up Jeremy Reed, you obviously think he has something to offer to the team, but by sitting him in the dugout, you obviously think he has less to offer than Jose Vidro, whose sorry ass you benched for a rookie earlier this very month. I don't get it. What are you going for?
Consistency. Demonstrate consistency. It's all I ask.