- I love baseball in the morning on weekends. Really, I just love mornings on the weekends, but baseball gives me a reason to wake up for them. Getting up early on a Saturday or a Sunday is unpleasant at first, but once I'm out of bed and functioning like a normal person, I get to sit down with a mug of tea and enjoy a relaxing day that's way longer than they usually are. Everything seems less formal and proceeds at a more agreeable pace. The baseball's less annoying. I don't feel the slightest bit of stress. I get to see a side of my backyard that I rarely get to see on the weekend (This is the seldom-observed 9am Saturday lawn. This is the more familiar 1pm Saturday lawn. The 1pm lawn really sucks). And then when the game's over, I still have some of the afternoon and all of the night to make plans. There aren't enough of these days in a year.
- Sometime in the early innings Dave Sims asked Mike Blowers about playing these late-season games that don't have playoff implications. Blowers said something to the effect of, every game meant something, because he was playing for his job. I think that's a really important point for all of us to remember. As fans, these games are pretty meaningless to us, but it's not fair to throw that word around all willy-nilly because the games really do still mean a lot to every one of the players and coaches. The coaches want to finish strong. The veterans want to set an example and finish on a good note. And the younger guys or role players are forever fighting for their future employment. This is the biggest reason why I usually don't buy in when someone accuses a bad team of "giving up" - if there were players who truly gave up, they'd shortly be out of a job.
To you and me, these games are meaningless. To the team, they're a chance to finish above .500. To Bill Hall, they're a chance to get a shot as a regular in 2010. To Ichiro, they're a chance to continue making history. To Felix, they're a chance to win a Cy Young. Every player has a reason to keep giving it his all. These games are anything but meaningless to them.
- Today made two times in two days that one of the Mariner announcers mentioned that the Maple Leafs haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967. If you're not a hockey fan or, more specifically, an Ottawa fan, you probably didn't enjoy those remarks as much as I did. God bless the Daves.
- Welcome to Seattle, Ian Snell. Thanks for finally showing up. Snell looked nothing like the guy we hoped we were getting in previous Mariner starts. Through ten games, he had more walks than strikeouts and a ghastly 57.9% strike rate. The best thing anyone could say about him was that he clearly still had some good stuff and might benefit from an offseason away from the field.
Today, though - today, we caught a 6.2-inning glimpse of what Snell could look like if the team gets him fixed. Against a lineup with four lefties in it, Snell attacked, throwing strikes with nearly three-quarters of his fastballs and setting himself up for a lot of breaking ball strikeout opportunities. He got to a two-strike count against 14 of 27 guys and was able to throw a lot of good breaking balls down in the zone. It wasn't a matter of getting ahead early - Snell threw just 12 first-pitch strikes - but instead of coming apart Snell was often able to battle back strong and keep himself in control. This was a definite step forward. I wasn't keeping an eye on his foot very often (some people say it was better, but I can neither confirm nor deny), but whatever he did, he should do more of. This was about as good as I ever imagined Ian Snell could look.
13 swinging strikes, by the way, with six on the slurve and seven on the fastball. Speaking of that slurve, today it ranged from 75 to 87 miles per hour. I'm sure there are different pitches in there, but they're impossible to separate; Snell basically just has a ~12mph range on his breaking ball. So for anyone tempted to call him a two-pitch pitcher, that's not necessarily wrong, but it's not exactly right.
- Fitting how Snell earned a win in five previous mediocre efforts as a Mariner and then got a big fat no-decision out of his best.
- I don't know what Travis Snider or the Blue Jays were doing, but in the top of the third, Snider had Ichiro played perfectly on a sinking drive to left. I thought that was a certain single.
- It's kind of interesting that this team has Snell, Bill Hall, and Adrian Beltre on it - three guys with loads of talent that previously posted ~one absolute monster season. It's sort of a lesson in probability: if you take two guys, and they have similar track records, but one of them has more raw talent, the latter will have a higher chance of putting up crazy numbers. Snell, Hall, and Beltre have all struck gold before, but that didn't so much establish a new true talent level as it did simply confirm that they possessed the ability to go nuts. I don't think I'm explaining this very well. Forget it.
Anyway, on Hall, who's been a source of frustration since coming over, it's worth pointing out that while he doesn't make a lot of contact, his plate discipline numbers now are almost identical to what they were in 2006 when he was a 5-win player. He hits the ball only a little bit less often than he used to. He just doesn't hit the ball as well. I don't know what to make of that, but figuring out why that is is going to be one of the team's biggest projects.
- In the bottom of the eighth, Wak let Mark Lowe face Lyle Overbay, who's a lefty, before pulling him so that Garrett Olson could face Travis Snider, who's a lefty. That was weird.
- In three consecutive innings, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out, and out of those three innings they managed to squeeze a total of one run. Lowe got the blown save and Shawn Kelley got the loss, but this whole thing could have been so easily avoided.