So that was a fun weekend. Where things were looking grim after the loss to Cliff Lee, three games later we're right back in the thick of this and everyone's feeling pretty good about the way the team's playing. Every time you get frustrated with the Mariners for remaining on the edge of the race, remember one thing - as long as you're on the edge of the race, the games still matter. We're nearing the trade deadline, and the M's are still playing important baseball. After five months of irrelevance a year ago, I can't express how thankful I am to have the team be in this position. Sure, they could easily fall short - they're still in third place and four back of the lead - but if we get to invest ourselves and feel emotional about the bulk of the season, then that's still something. We're playing Detroit tomorrow. I would like to win. And as long as we can care about the outcomes - that's why we're here in the first place. Fuck off, 2008.
- My understanding is that Erik Bedard didn't look very good yesterday, but if you missed the game and just look at his line score, you're left with a different impression. Plus strike rate, plus swinging strike rate. The successful results weren't all there, but the components were, and in the big picture I find the latter to be more important. It's obvious that Erik isn't totally right, but I'm actually more encouraged by his start than I thought I'd be when I was just getting brief updates over the course of the afternoon.
- Anybody who's ever argued about pitcher control over HR/FB% just needs to watch the clip of Ichiro's game-ending catch at the wall. Aardsma's still only allowed one home run on the season, but it's not like the fact that the ball came up six inches short is evidence that Aardsma did something right. He gave up a long fly ball and got lucky. He's a good reliever, but hits like that are why he'll always make me nervous. Closers who put the ball in the air like Felix keeps the ball on the ground aren't the most comforting arms in the world.
- I'm not a big fan of Jarrod Washburn the pitcher, and I don't think I'm a big fan of Jarrod Washburn the person, but I'm a big fan of Jarrod Washburn the personality:
"I wasn't sharp at all,'' he said. "I don't know how many spots I hit all night, but it wasn't many. The guys played good defense behind me. I had good life on the fastball, even though I wasn't hitting spots with it. I didn't square too many up.There was a lot of fly balls tonight. My sinker wasn't sinking as well. I wasn't locating very good. It worked. We won. You go into a game and find out as the game progresses what you have that day and try to make it work."
- It seems that Rob Johnson has officially taken over as the regular catcher. Kenji Johjima will still get his playing time, but if Johnson is going to be the personal catcher for three starters, then that makes him first-string, whether the team will admit as much or not. And, well, whatever. Dave's already made the case that his bat is better than people think, and while I don't think it's on the same level as Kenji's, the difference is small enough that I might as well trust that the coaches know what they're doing. There's never been any good evidence that catcher ERA means anything, but if pitchers are more comfortable with one guy over another - and I think it's pretty clear that Rob's the preferred receiver around here - then you don't really have much choice. There's a reason why some of the guys would rather throw to Rob than Kenji, and regardless of what that reason is, comfort's important, and not to be ignored. Most pitchers won't respond very well if they ask to be caught by one guy and you tell them "tough titties."
Me on June 24th:
Actually, I don't think Ronny Cedeno has a clue against anyone. In-season ZiPS projects him for a rest-of-season line of .246/.289/.366, but I think this might be one of those times where we have enough visual evidence to overrule the computer forecasts, because Cedeno has looked as bad as any Major League hitter I have ever seen in my life.
- Turns out RRS was sitting at 88-91 again in his most recent start, that being the dominant game in Las Vegas. He's now back at his standard starting velocity and has racked up 34 strikeouts and six walks in 42.2 innings over his last seven starts. Garrett Olson, meanwhile, can't throw strikes, miss bats, or keep the ball on the ground. Right now, Olson has the support of the coaching staff, but these things can change in a hurry, and with RRS beginning to look like a guy in Tacoma who's better than his league, Olson's going to need a good game tomorrow if he wants to hang on to his job. Man, it's good to have Ryan back.
- King Felix is pretty good.