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36-35, Game Notes

  • With the way Don Wakamatsu's talking, it's beginning to look like Brandon Morrow is here to stay. Which - I can't get over how quickly everybody seemed to change their minds on this. Morrow was ticketed for AAA. The story was everywhere. There were quotes from everyone from the coaches to the front office to Morrow himself acknowledging the plan. And then it never happened, and the whole idea just kind of got swept under the rug. Every additional start he makes up here makes it that much less likely that he ever goes back to the minors. So now I guess we have to live with this. If Brandon Morrow goes on to have a successful career, it'll be a testament to how raw talent can overcome even the craziest development process. And if he doesn't, then we'll be left to wonder what if.

    But anyway, as long as he's here, we might as well talk about him as a Major Leaguer. And while it's hard to gauge his progress when he's going up against the Padres, he did make it up to a season-high 87 pitches while throwing 66% strikes and his last fastball at 95.1mph, which is something. I didn't think he started very well. He fell behind four of the first five batters he faced, and his first couple breaking balls missed the mark badly. His battle against Kouzmanoff was a lousy one, and he couldn't have put his 3-2 heater in a worse location. But then he settled in and started to look better. I liked his fifth inning at bat against Everth Cabrera in particular. After falling behind 2-0 on fastballs, a mound meeting calmed him down and he threw three straight tough sliders to get the punchout. Not a lot of righties trust their slider that much behind in the count against a lefty, but whether by design or by necessity since his changeup isn't very good, Morrow made it work. All in all, he probably wanted to get through more than five innings, but considering everything he's been through and how he's looked, tonight was all right. Would've liked to see him throw more offspeed stuff, but this is what happens when you try to develop a guy in the Majors. We'll look for more progress his next time out. That one'll come against an actual lineup.

  • Along the way, Morrow turned in the easiest double play I've ever seen. With a man on first, Tony Gwynn tried to lay down a bunt, but he popped it up towards the first base side of the infield. Continuing along the natural path of his follow-through, Morrow jogged to his left to make the catch and then sprinted to first to beat Cabrera back to the bag. I don't know how many 1-unassisted double plays have been turned in the history of baseball, but it doesn't get any simpler. Most double plays require at least one throw, and even the unassisted ones usually require someone to catch a line drive. All Morrow had to do on this one was catch a bunt and run in a straight line. Of all balls ever hit into play, this one might've been the most impossible to screw up, and it was worth twice as many outs as normal.

  • With two outs in the bottom of the second, third base umpire Angel Hernandez rung up Griffey on a 2-2 check swing. Problem #1: Griffey didn't go around. Problem #2: Hernandez' gesture was shamefully emphatic. When faced with this sort of situation, most umpires either make the safe sign or indifferently raise their fist. Hernandez threw an animated haymaker and yelled something. Randy Marsh had to follow Griffey back to the dugout to make sure nothing escalated between Hernandez and the guy Hernandez basically told to go fuck himself. I wonder, though, what Marsh was really thinking, because at some point you have to get tired of covering for the same umpires over and over again. People have been complaining about Angel Hernandez trying to put himself in the spotlight ever since he first started umpiring, and it's only a matter of time before somebody loses control. I look forward to that happening.

  • Mark Grant, first inning: "Junior's put on some lb's."

  • Josh Geer fell behind 14 of the 27 Mariner batters he faced tonight. His pitch distribution after falling behind in the count? 19 fastballs, 9 sliders, 20 changeups. That's less than 40% fastballs after falling behind. Why? Because the M's aren't a sufficiently disciplined team to make opposing pitchers give them pitches to hit. I'm not going to criticize their productivity tonight, since they put up a line of .344/.400/.594, but it's interesting to see how people go to work against this lineup. They don't give it a lot of respect. 

  • Ronny Cedeno's single tonight was his first hit since June 7th. It was a grounder through the 5-6 hole. I absolutely love the fact that he has a fierce-looking tattoo on his arm. He's ruining fierce-looking tattoos for everybody. Although I suppose I shouldn't give him too much of a hard time tonight since he did such a phenomenal job of tracking down that Scott Hairston pop-up in the sixth. His route wasn't perfect, but pop-ups behind the bag aren't easy to follow when you turn your back to home plate, and Cedeno made a hell of a catch. I wonder if tonight's effort might give him a little bit of confidence. He's going to need it, since he might be looking at sustained playing time now that...

  • ...Yuniesky Betancourt is out with a pulled hamstring. As if Zduriencik wasn't anxious enough to find a shortstop before. Yuni overall has been the least valuable member of the team, but I'll be honest with you - this was a bad time for him to get hurt, because he's finally been showing some improvement. Not only has his effort in the field been markedly improved, but since coming back from his stint on the bench, he's put up an OSwing% of 26.8% and a ZSwing% of 68.0%. Compare that 2.5 ratio to his 1.8 ratio in May and 1.7 ratio in April. I don't know if that's real or an anomaly, but to the naked eye, it seemed as if Yuni had taken Wakamatsu's lectures to heart, and so to interrupt his progress with a potentially serious injury doesn't do us much good. I mean, yeah, I'd welcome a new long-term shortstop with open arms, but I'd like to find out if there's any salvaging the old piece of crap we already had. I hope he's not out for too long. The good news is that his hamstring injury didn't appear nearly as dramatic as Willie's.

  • Two things are true about Edward Mujica: he pitches in every game the Padres play, and I never notice that he pitched until I look at the box score later on.

  • Mike Adams was absolutely perfect in his showdown with Branyan in the seventh. Started him off with a slider on the low-inside corner, then pounded him with a couple low-inside fastballs. Three low-inside pitches, three called strikes. The last two were a little off the plate, but when you hit your spots with that kind of precision, the ump is usually going to give you the benefit of the doubt. That was an annoying but wonderfully executed at bat.

  • Mike Sweeney was one of the guys who helped carry Yuniesky Betancourt off the field and towards the tunnel. Do players usually do that? I feel like players don't usually do that. I'm having a lot of trouble seeing how the front office could DFA this guy. This is a guy who carries injured players off the field and babysits for other players on the road when they want a night on the town. He hasn't hit very well, but I guarantee you he's beloved by pretty much every single person in the clubhouse, and there's no way any of the players would understand his being let go. The front office probably couldn't be happier that Griffey is starting to produce, but the Sweeney situation is almost equally delicate.

  • On the San Diego broadcast, they ran a promo with David Eckstein encouraging fans to come out to the ballpark on July 4th for a game and free beach towels. I can't tell if I'm supposed to work for a joke here, or if the image is already funny enough on its own.

  • The same goes for Ronny Cedeno's pep talk with Aardsma in the ninth.

Jarrod Washburn and Wade LeBlanc in a 1:40 matinee. Ever wonder what Jamie Moyer would look like without the special little something that makes Jamie Moyer Jamie Moyer? Tune in to find out!