A gust of wind howls through the orchard as a man sits motionless by a window, watching the sunset. There is a knock at the door to the study. A man in a suit quietly enters the room.
Butler: Sir, I think there's something you should know.
Butler: The Mariners and Rangers are playing in extra innings today, and-
Butler: See, the Mariners are in first place right now. This is an important game for them.
Butler: One of their relievers just got hurt, and...
Butler: And they brought in Denny Stark.
Cirillo: It's time.
- The only thing worse than having to bring in a replacement-level reliever to face the Rangers in the tenth inning of a tie ballgame is having to bring in a replacement-level reliever who's fatigued. Stark threw 16 pitches against Oakland on Sunday and 17 pitches against Texas last night, and while that doesn't seem like too much of a workload, his average fastball velocity was 92.5mph over the first two games and 91.5 today. On three occasions he threw his heater below 90 today after not doing it in his previous two games. His first eight fastballs averaged 90.0, making me wonder if he didn't get enough of a warmup, which wouldn't be much of a surprise.
I'm sure Stark isn't the guy Wakamatsu wanted to bring in, but with Batista and Vargas presumably unavailable after throwing a lot of pitches on Sunday and Kelley getting himself all bollocksed, there wasn't anything he could do about it. We were in trouble the minute Kelley fell down. There's no way you can turn to a below-100% Denny Stark against the Rangers in a tie game with any kind of confidence, and we wound up taking it straight on the chin. It's a miracle that we nearly escaped that inning in the first place.
- With Kelley likely going to the DL and Morrow unavailable until Saturday, the next three games could be all kinds of uncomfortable. And if Kelley's oblique issue is serious, then all of a sudden a whole lot of eyes are going to turn to Josh Fields. Kelley occupies a critical role, and I'm not yet ready to trust Miguel Batista or Mark Lowe to fill it.
- Last time he took the mound, Erik Bedard couldn't locate his fastball, and he got himself into a whole heap of trouble. Today he was able to put that all behind him and pick up where he'd left off the start before. He threw strikes with 72% of his fastballs and 67% of his curves, missing twelve bats and generating five pop-ups on 20 balls in play. Aside from the fastball that he left out over the plate against Nelson Cruz, Bedard was virtually flawless today, and his K/BB now stands at a magnificent 6.5. Let this ease any concerns you might've had last week. Bedard isn't going to face many better lineups than the one he saw today, and he destroyed it.
- If you're able to forget that it preceded the final 15% of the game, David Aardsma's strikeout of Ian Kinsler in the ninth was one of those fantastically breathtaking moments you don't get in any other sport. I'm sure I'm not alone when I confess that I don't trust Aardsma to throw a strike when he has to, so watching him get squeezed on pitches #2 and #4 and fall behind 3-1 just about made me spit fiery blood like a hemorrhagic dragon. The 3-2 foul ball was also a bit of a bother since in my head I figured Aardsma only had so many strikes left in his arm. Just when I was doubting him the most, though, he piped pure venom down the heart of the plate, challenging Kinsler to a battle of power on power, and Kinsler swung right through it in such a way that I was reminded of that Morrow game in Texas a couple years back. The thing about Aardsma's blend of velocity and inconsistency is that he'll end up throwing a lot of stressful pitches, and today, that made his finish all the more enjoyable. I screamed at work.
- Jose Lopez is damn lucky that both Adrian Beltre and Griffey are struggling, because Jose Lopez hasn't done shit.
- Sometimes an o'fer isn't just an o'fer. Franklin Gutierrez saw 24 pitches in four plate appearances and swung at just two of 13 pitches out of the zone (all three of the called strikes against him in the tenth, by the way, were balls). Though he went hitless, Gutierrez had a successful day at the plate.
- Sometimes an o'fer is an o'fer. Yuniesky Betancourt saw 14 pitches in four plate appearances and swung at nine of 12 pitches out of the zone. Yuni had a miserable day at the plate.
Silva and Ponson tomorrow at 5:10 in a matchup of two of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. The Royals, incidentally, have a better record than we do.