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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Seattle Mariners

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Seattle: 24-27
Baltimore: 23-28

SUMMARY

MARINERS ORIOLES EDGE
HITTING (wOBA)
-44.4 (29th) 3.1 (15th) BAL
FIELDING (UZR)
10.7 (7th) -13.0 (26th) SEA
ROTATION (pRAA)
12.8 (9th) -18.3 (27th) SEA
BULLPEN (pRAA)
-13.2 (27th) 0.6 (14th) BAL
OVERALL(RAA)
-34.1 -27.6 Baltimore







So close. So close to the sweep that would have meant quite a bit in the short run.

It is funny how things work. If you switch around games two and three, how many people are ecstatic to leave Anaheim with a series win instead of devastated without the series sweep?

It is easy, because of our collective past history, to hone in on the loss last night and go back to wallowing. And it was a tough loss - of that there is no doubt. Still though, there were a lot of positives to take away from it, mostly on the offensive side in the early going. I do not think I need to re-hash them, as Jeff already has better than I can.

Still, I thought about the negativism that inevitably follows a disgusting loss like yesterday's and that it seems so easy to fall back into the routine of expecting the worst at all times. It is easy to forget at times that this is a new team, a new management group. They're not perfect, but they are quite good and it is going to take some time to turn the ship fully around. In the meantime, we get to watch Ichiro Suzuki nearly everyday. We get to watch Russell Branyan prove to everyone, including himself, that he belongs at this level.

Once a week we get to watch a 23-year-old Venezuelan display talent that none of has ever seen up close before. Sure, we yell at him a lot. We want him to get better. We sense that he can be better; that he can be not just the best talent that we have ever seen, but the best period. But that should not stop us from enjoying what we have while we have it, because for as slow as time seems sometimes, it is relentless and sooner than you will perhaps like, he'll be gone.

Felix may never reach the level that we wish for him. For those of us who had the privilege, Felix Day may never eclipse what it was like the night of a Randy Johnson start in his prime. And it looks like we are not going to get to pass that potential torch onto Stephen Strasburg, but a little over a year ago nobody here knew of Strasburg. The landscape changes so inconceivably quickly that it is easy to get sucked into the now, and to forget to sometimes just sit back and just appreciate how talented these people are. Who knows how many more Erik Bedard starts we will get to see in Seattle? How many more games will Adrian Beltre be wearing Seattle blue?

Baseball is a glorious sport. The Mariners have put me through hell and back in the 18-odd years that I have been a fan. But through it all, the purity of just how great baseball is remains and I believe that is what draws us all here in the first place. Nothing, not even Kendry Morales' magic marker goatee, can take that away unless you let them.

Morales_medium

 

GAMES

Game 1: Jarrod Wasburn* vs. Rich Hill*
Game 2: Erik Bedard* vs. David Hernandez
Game 3: Jason Vargas* vs. TBA

Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Let us just get that out of the way now.

The Mariners are tossing out three lefties at the Orioles, a team that shows a pretty big platoon split with a .797 OPS against RHPs and just a .714 OPS against LHPs. For Washburn, who has been feasting on left handed hitters, the Orioles look like a good match up. Neutralize Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott and get Brian Roberts to bat from his worst side, and you have taken most of the sting out of Baltimore. Adam Jones might destroy him though, but he'll have to deal with Safeco Field hampering him from the right side.

Honestly, we're running four lefties out of the rotation right now, and Ryan Rowland-Smith looks about a week away from being ready to re-join the team. With Safeco's natural death to right handed hitters, stacking your rotation with lefties is a great way to take advantage of your home park from a run prevention side. It will be interesting to see how this team juggles the return of RRS and possibly Carlos Silva, who with Chris Jakubauskas give the team eight legit starting pitchers (though six of them are back end talent). I am not yet ready to fully concede the 2009 season, but I do think Zduriencik can get started on trades if he does it carefully. Jarrod Washburn can go and not really affect us.

Rich Hill is our first opponent. Hill was finally liberated from the minors by the Cubs in 2006 and got a full year in the rotation in 2007 in which he posted a fantastic 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio with even ground ball rates. And then just like that, it was gone. Last year saw Hill begin the year in the rotation, but last just 19.2 innings with 18 walks. Sent down to Triple-A, Hill walked 28 (against a good 32 strikeouts) in 26 innings. Sent down further to High-A, Hill walked 11 in 12.1 innings. Hill has been better so far this season, again split between High-A, Triple-A and now the AL, but it is too early to tell anything. His control still seems well off and he has been missing fewer bats.

David Hernandez is a 24-year-old right hander who has worked his way a level each year. Running great strikeout rates coupled with walk rates ranging from solid to fabulous, Hernandez is a welcome addition for the Orioles rotation of the future. He is going to miss a lot of bats and the Mariners hacktastic righty lineup might get embarrassed, even moreso than usual.

THIS SERIES BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Double Barrel Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.. Paso Robles, CA

Firestone's flagship brew. It pours with a moderate light brown color and a decent head. The aroma is of light hops and a sweet malt caramel. Taste is smooth and lightly sweet. I found it a somewhat rare English ale that actually delivers on taste.