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10-11, Game Thoughts

See, that's exactly what I was saying about the whole unpredictability thing last night. Kyle Davies/Felix Hernandez, and Zack Greinke/Ian Snell. Two obvious mismatches. If things go as expected, the M's and Royals split. Things didn't at all go as expected, but the M's and Royals still split. They just did things backwards. That's not how you draw it up, but isn't it better this way? Giving the wins to Felix and Greinke is boring. Giving the wins to Davies and Kelley is astonishing. Yeah, I know, we all like when Felix gets wins because Felix likes when Felix gets wins, but at the end of the day, the fulfillment of expectations just doesn't pack the same punch as a Jose Lopez infield double. 

Nobody likes to be corrected or made to feel stupid in person, but when it comes to sports, I take pleasure in being reminded of how little I actually know. These last two games have done that in spades.

Only a handful of notes tonight, as tomorrow's an early game and I'd also like to sleep.

  • I'm paraphrasing here, but in a clip they played during the postgame show, Ian Snell said something along the lines of "I didn't care where my pitches were going, I just threw them." There are a lot of people out there who consider pitching to be an art, and they just got slapped in the face. Snell's approach was basically the approach you use in a video game when your starter is tired: choose a pitch and throw it without aiming, because it could end up anywhere anyway.

    Indeed, there was a short list of things Ian Snell could've done tonight to keep his place in the rotation, but "pitch like Ian Snell" wasn't one of them. He was wild, inefficient, and had just enough stuff to keep from getting blasted. He fell behind 18 of the 27 batters he faced, and 13 of the first 15. Everybody always talks about the quality of Ian Snell's stuff, but it isn't good enough for him to consistently work his way out of hitter's counts. He needs to get ahead, and that continues to be a major stumbling block.

    Snell did say that his slider felt the best it's felt in years, which is certainly encouraging. He used it to help escape a handful of jams. However, we're still talking about a guy who's pitched himself out of the rotation, and we've gotten here because he simply hasn't made enough progress. Now we have to hope that his fastball and slider can play up in relief.

    Credit to Ian: he kept the score a lot closer than it could've been. Those james he faced, though - by and large, those jams were of his own making. He can be a difficult pitcher to watch and he was again today, quality start or no quality start.

  • On the plus side, for all the crap he's already gone through, Snell's swinging strike rate stands at 9.0% through four starts. A year ago, he clocked in at 6.7% as a Mariner. Nice to see that those might be coming back.

  • The Mariners' big eighth inning rally:

    Bunt single
    Groundball single
    Soft groundball double

    Our biggest hit of the game was a Jose Lopez tapper back to the mound that Robinson Tejeda inadvertently deflected just beyond Alberto Callaspo and into the outfield. I mentioned just yesterday how hesitant I am to use the word "embarrassing," but it's embarrassing that we managed to score three runs and win the game with that series of events. That was classic Angel baseball. It works, but it sure makes you feel dirty.

    This is the third late-inning lead the Royal bullpen has blown for Greinke, by the way, who stands at 0-2 despite a 2.56 ERA. He's under contract through 2012. Although I do have to wonder how much Greinke actually cares. If this were Felix, we know that he'd be pissed off. Greinke seems like the sort to zone out and take everything in stride after leaving the game. But I have no basis for this.

    The non-Joakim Soria part of the Royal bullpen - that is, the part of the bullpen you'll see any time it isn't a textbook save situation - has combined for 39 strikeouts and 42 walks.

  • Milton Bradley pulled off the fake-toss-keep-the-ball maneuver at the end of the eighth inning. A lot of people would see this as just the latest example of Bradley acting classless, but then, consider the situation. Fans in the seats near Bradley are on his ass, all the time, in every game. They give him a lot of shit, and sometimes he'll give them shit back. Can they really expect him to then give them a baseball as he leaves? What have they done to deserve it? Obviously not every single person sitting nearby is in on the heckling, but it isn't reasonable to want Bradley to walk over and, say, personally hand the ball to a little kid.

    It's all fun. Milton Bradley is one of the only players in baseball who seems to understand that his purpose is to entertain. He's embraced who he is, or at least who people think he is.

    Bradley had another nice moment as he arrived at the dugout. He saw a Mariners fan a few rows back and tried to toss him the ball he'd kept from the outfield. A Royals fan, however, jumped in for an interception. He and Bradley exchanged a few words before Bradley went into the dugout, got a new baseball, and returned to the step so he could try again. This second attempt was successful. I like to think that whatever Bradley said served as a powerful deterrent to further intervention.

    Anyway, it's cool to see how aware Bradley is of the people around him. One could easily argue that he might be a little too aware at times, but baseball doesn't have enough of that player-fan interaction.

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  • Adam Moore staged a terrific nine-pitch at bat against Greinke in the top of the seventh. Moore wound up flying out, but he got ahead, worked the count full, and fouled off three very good inside fastballs before driving knee-high mid-90s heat the other way. Despite the poor outcome, doing that against a Cy Young winner is a confidence builder for a kid who has four hits in four games after managing just one through his first seven.