This is sort of like replacing a shiny new Aston Martin with a Ford Fiesta*, but I'll give this my best Jeff impression.
- I missed the first several innings of the game, which is ironic (i.e. not ironic at all) because Ryan Rowland-Smith spent the first several innings of the game missing. Apparently he was being squeezed, but that doesn't excuse having 43.9% of your pitches going for balls. On the plus side, nobody made hard contact on him in his 3+ innings, which was useful in stranding runners. Allowing 0 line drives and having a quarter of your batted balls be popped up is a great way to avoid runs scoring, but is about as sustainable as a snowball fight in hell.
- The second inning was typical 07-08 Mariners. Stringing a bunch of lucky hits together for a 5-run rally seems horribly unfair, but then I remember that we were leading by two with two outs in the 9th last Tuesday. I can live with some unfairness in our favour for a while.
- I imagine Brett Anderson is slightly disappointed with the way his debut went, and I can't blame him. Being hit for five bullshit runs can't have been high on his to-do list. I missed most of his work, but tRA put him at 1.49 for the evening - he pitched far better than his line would indicate. I'd have liked to have been able to watch him, though.
- I was impressed by Shawn Kelley. Making his Major League debut in a tight situation like that and pitching a great inning (the strikeouts of Ellis and Giambi were fun) can only be construed as a good thing for our bullpen
- Holy crap does Jakubauskas's curveball have a lot of movement. If he could locate it worth a damn that would be a nifty little weapon to have stashed in our bullpen.
- Of course, even if he had located it, the home plate umpire wouldn't have given him a call. Both teams suffered from a tiny zone that seemed to meander back and forth in the late innings. Take our bullpen's command issues with a grain of salt.
- For all the love our defence got in the Minnesota series, they made some pretty boneheaded plays in this game. The most notable came in the bottom of the sixth, where Giambi hit a routine double-play ball to Lopez, who was slow to get the ball to Yuni. Betancourt in turn made a throw to Branyan that Randy Winn would have been embarrassed by, and Giambi was safe at first base. He would later come in to score on a sacrifice fly. Whoops. The seventh saw Ken Griffey Jr., Loafie, and Branyan all jogging towards a Cabrera pop fly, which dropped for a base hit. It would have been a tough play (I think Ichiro would have had to have slid to get it), but a little bit of effort wouldn't hurt. Jr. in particular reminded me of Jose Guillen in right.
- I don't understand why Griffey started in the outfield in a game against a left-hander and with a flyball guy on the mound for us. We need to tailor the lineup to better match the situation at hand. On the other hand, he did draw three walks which yay.
- Good teams win even though they don't play well. Keep that in mind. Pulling out this (massively undeserved) win could be huge.
- If we lose on Tuesday, we'll have ruined three home openers in 8 days. I wonder if that'll be some kind of record.
- What the hell is up with not showing the 6th game of the season against a divisional rival, FOX? Please don't do that again.
- You can't get much streakier than Felix today. For the first two innings, he was wild and shaky, and was quite frankly lucky to be limiting the A's to three runs in the first two frames. The second was particularly nasty, costing Felix about 35 pitches and 3 runs - the big blow being a two run double off the bat of rookie A's catcher Landon Powell. Then something clicked and he proceeded to demolish the Oakland lineup, striking out the side in the third and getting another two strikeouts in the fourth. The fifth should have been smooth for him as well, but
ClementJohjima dropped a routine pop foul from Giambi (no error called), and two outs later Cust hit the A's first home run of the year. Alarmingly, Felix got a grand total of zero ground balls in this start. If he doesn't cut down the walks and induce more grounders in his next appearance the Tigers are going to massacre him. He really should've only taken 3 earned runs for this outing though**.
- Balentien managed to hurt himself in the first inning by misplaying a line drive hit straight at him and then falling over and landing on himself. Unlike Mike Morse's terrible/hilarious injury from last season, this doesn't appear too bad. He stayed in the game for a little while before leaving in the 6th with a sprained wrist.
- I don't get the impression that Sweeney is quite as done as he's appeared so far. Sure, he's looked really stupid sometimes at the plate, but he's hit the ball on the nose at least once in every game I've paid attention to. Unfortunately, he's hideously slow, so extra-base hits are going to be hard to come by unless he hits them over the fence. Between Sweeney, Griffey, and Branyan, we have three guys who look like they can still hit but can't run worth a damn. We may lead baseball in average single distance.
- Branyan doesn't kid around with his home runs, does he? On a 1-0 count in the top of the fourth, he took a fastball on the outer half of the plate, extended his arms, and obliterated it. The ball ended up going past the first section of seats in right centre field. His moonshots are going to be a lot of fun to watch this season, especially if they help keep us in contention.
- Carlos Silva fat jokes are out, but Landon Powell looks like he just ate Vidro and Silva's illegitimate child. Even Dave weighed in, claiming that Powell's only issue as a prospect has been 'getting up from the table'. I can't imagine a 260lb catcher working without spending every other season recovering from knee surgery.
- The rally in the fifth inning to tie the game probably could have been a lot bigger if not for the umps. I (along with the rest of Seattle) was radio-only, but according to those watching on MLB.tv, Chavez was called out when he was safe on a bunt at first base, and Gutierrez was called out at third on a phantom Mark Ellis tag. If we hadn't won I'd be a lot more irritated about this.
- Miguel Batista had two very good innings in relief of Felix. I'm as surprised as you are. He's actually been very effective in the bullpen this season, so there may be hope of extracting some real value from his play in the last year of his contract, which would be a pleasant surprise. Don't you love it when players try playing a whole goddamn year injured and then get healthy and are suddenly effective again?
- Error, single, walk, double, single. That's a nice sight in the top of the eighth when you're down by two runs. Lopez was the hero here, greeting Brad Ziegler with the game typing double down the left field line. One batter later Johjima grounded the ball past third, plating Russ Branyan and Loafie. Mark Lowe was brought in for the bottom half of the inning, and was extremely wild, nearly walking Jack Cust before allowing a line drive single and then walking Travis Buck on six pitches. Down by two, Mark Ellis squared to sacrifice, but failed to get the bunt down twice and then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play on a full count. Lowe was one ball away from having the bases loaded and no outs and being yanked in favour of Roy Corcoran, and that play completely changed the complexion of the inning. One easy ground ball to shortstop later and the Mariners were out of a very nasty jam.
- I find it particularly funny that the aforementioned error was committed by Bobby Crosby, who had been inserted as a defensive replacement at the beginning of the inning. Whoopsies.
- After an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Brandon Morrow came in the close out the game. He got Ryan Sweeney to ground to Yuni on a 3-1 count, walked Cabrera, and then had Crosby line out to right. When Holliday followed that with a routine groundball to second, I let myself relax and bask in the glory of a hard-earned win. And then Lopez bobbled it. I don't know if it was just him being lazy or whether the ball took a nasty hop, but Morrow's not exactly the sort of shutdown guy we can feel ok making errors behind, especially when they bring the tying run to the plate. Fortunately nothing came from it (Garciaparra ended up striking out), but it was a heart-stopping moment.
- Speaking of heart-stopping, I really wish Dave would be a bit quicker to say what happened rather than express emotion. It took about 3 seconds for him to call the Ellis double play coherently, which was the most pivotal moment in the game, and when the announcers are yelling I'm really not that keen on being in the dark.
- 4-2, 1st place AL West. Enjoy sole position of first, everyone. I really doubt it'll last. In the meantime, though, we've guaranteed ourselves a winning road trip and a series win in Oakland. Without Ichiro. This team might actually be ok.
**Not that ERA matters.