There is a lot that could be written about this game. Alas, after news broke that Jeff Clement had been pulled from the lineup and traded in a package to an unknown team for an unknown return, I kind of forgot there was a game altogether, so I will not be the one to write it. A man with a very limited ability to focus on more than one thing at once has to prioritize, and trade speculation always beats an entertaining but ultimately pretty meaningless win. Give people a choice between a free burrito and a mystery box and they'll take the mystery box every time.
So here are a few fleeting remarks (update: I'm a liar):
- I haven't the foggiest idea why teams in this day and age still send scouts to watch a 34 year old pitcher with 1800 innings of Major League experience, but those who were in attendance to see Jarrod Washburn got what they should've expected. A bunch of innings, a lot of contact, an ability to hang around the edges of the zone, and a no decision. Working in our favor is that teams who put great weight on the input of these scouts will probably care more about the one run than the three walks and one strikeout. "He pitched himself out of jams!" This was hardly Jarrod's best start of the year, but against a lineup with eight righties in it, there's only so much he could've done, and there's certainly no way his trade value is any lower now than it was before the game.
- Worth noting is that Jarrod registered only three swinging strikes on 102 pitches. Now there was obviously a lot on his mind and it would only be human of him to let the uncertainty affect his performance, but that aside, over his past five starts he has a strike rate of 62.6% and a swinging strike rate of 5.6%. Compare that to 2007's 62.4% and 5.8%. Jarrod has unquestionably been a better pitcher through ~4 months than he was in recent seasons, but it'll be interesting to see where his numbers end up. Five starts aren't more meaningful than 20 starts, but when someone takes an unexpected step forward you always have to be aware of a possible trend back to his career averages.
- Flipper Report: 9 thrown, 5 balls, 2 called strikes, 1 swinging strike, 1 fly out to center. The one he threw to Raul Chavez was splendid. The one he threw to Vernon Wells was less splendid.
- Somehow Michael Saunders taking a home run away from Vernon Wells doesn't quite make up for Chris Gimenez taking a home run away from Michael Saunders. Next time we face the Indians we should bean him. That play wasn't spectacular because of range, but rather because Saunders was able to leap to pull down a ball few other left fielders would've been able to scrape. Big kid.
- Ronny :(edeno since I decided to "chalk one up to in-season ZiPS": .069/.069/.069. I call takebacksies.
- I don't think Ichiro's first career walk-off hit could've possibly been more him.
How improbable is it that he never had one of these until now?
- If ever - ever - there were a player capable of improving others simply by being around them, it's Mike Sweeney. Sweeney can barely do anything on the field anymore these days, but it's clear that he's beloved by literally every single person in the clubhouse, and seeing him rush out to be the first one to Ichiro so he could give him a hug...you know, I imagine there were bets and dares on who would do what when Ichiro finally got a walk-off, but Sweeney cast all of that aside and picked the little bastard up. And Ichiro laughed. It is impossible to watch that replay and not at least consider that maybe there's a good reason why Sweeney's still here.