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11-11, Game Thoughts

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The Mariners came one better-placed Jose Lopez line drive away from probably sweeping the Royals. The Mariners also came a Robinson Tejeda mishap and a Willie Bloomquist at bat away from probably getting swept by the Royals. Life is what you make of it.

  • What do you do when your fastball isn't very good and you have a feel for all your offspeed stuff? You throw a lot of your offspeed stuff. Of Ryan Rowland-Smith's 91 pitches today, only 40 were fastballs, as he was mixing in everything he has short of that cutter he was supposedly working on. And, for the most part, it worked. The final line isn't real sexy, but RRS came mighty close to limiting the Royals to a single run.

    He was done in in large part by a pair of 0-2 counts in the bottom of the sixth. Ahead 0-2 on Billy Butler with one on and one out, RRS tried to induce a miss or a jam shot, but his fastball came too far up and in and gave Butler an ugly bruise to go with his ugly face. Later, with the bases loaded and two out, RRS got ahead 0-2 on Jason Kendall, but Kendall took an outside changeup into shallow right for a soft looper that dropped between Ichiro and Chone Figgins. Were it not for a tricky sun (damn you sun!), that ball's caught and the inning is over. Instead, two runs came around to score and two more would score in the next at bat.

    What was nice to see from RRS were the nine whiffs (all on offspeed pitches) and the 17 first-pitch strikes. His stuff clearly isn't good enough to keep working from behind, so despite his final ball count, he did a good job of attacking Royal hitters early. Want to see an amazing split?

    First Pitch: 12/25 fastballs (48%)
    After 1-0: 17/25 fastballs (68%)
    After 0-1: 11/41 fastballs (27%)

    There's a guy who didn't want to throw many fastballs when he didn't have to. RRS is aware of his strengths and weaknesses, and that was apparent today. This was his best start of the season, and while it wasn't anything great, it is something to build off.

  • Ichiro's average is up to .330, and it feels like he hasn't even woken up for the season yet. I had to look this up just now. 15 minutes ago, had someone knocked on the door and asked me how I thought Ichiro was doing, I would've said "what?", and then he would've said "how do you think Ichiro is doing?", and I would've said "no I heard you," and then he would've said "so answer the question," and I would've said "well it's just that this is a peculiar circumstance," and then he would've said "it's really quite a simple question," and I would've said "but you get why this is weird, right? I mean I don't even know who you are," and then he would've said "look I'm just looking for a one-word answer," and I would've said "and then you'll leave?", and then he would've said "and then I'll leave," and I would've said "slumping."

  • Laying to rest any fears that he might be entering a slump, Casey Kotchman picked up a well-hit single, a well-hit double, and a walk this afternoon. He's up to .264/.333/.514 with a number of scoops and diving stops at first base. He isn't getting himself out, and his only real glaring mistakes so far have been on the basepaths. Big for him to show that he can still do damage when he's hitting the ball close to the ground. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Kotchman isn't set to be a free agent until after next year.

  • With the score 6-5 Mariners in the bottom of the ninth, a man in the first row behind home plate was reading a newspaper.

  • With a man on and two down in the bottom of the eighth, Jason Kendall slapped a grounder into the hole between short and third base. Jack Wilson ranged over to his right, backhanded the ball, leapt, and threw across his body to get Kendall at first on the fly. You know that classic Derek Jeter play? This was that, with range. It's incredible to me how much agility and arm strength Wilson packs into a body that looks like it was built by sewing together various bits and limbs from a group of dead seven year olds.

  • The longest home run of Chone Figgins' career went 397 feet. It's fair to say that his triple off a Gil Meche slider was the hardest he can hit a baseball. Figgins hit a couple balls with authority today, which is nice, because it took him three and a half weeks to prove that he can hit a ball with authority.

  • Ex-Mariners today: 1-15 at the plate, five runs in six innings on the mound
    Non-ex-Mariners today: 6-17 at the plate, one run in three innings on the mound

    I particularly enjoyed the final at bat of the game, in which David Aardsma started Yuniesky Betancourt off with three straight sliders and later finished him off with a fastball at the eyes. Yuni's O-Swing% so far this year is nearly 50%.

  • During a mound visit in the top of the ninth, Milton Bradley chatted with home plate umpire Bob Davidson. On several occasions, Bradley smiled.

  • Jose Lopez pulled off another Adrian Beltre Special on a swinging bunt. Once again, he wasn't quite as smooth and the play didn't seem as graceful, but the result was there, and if Jose Lopez can do everything Adrian Beltre did 10% worse, then that's good news for the Mariners. Remember all the people who used to rip into Lopez for his allegedly poor work ethic? Where are those people now? I have been nothing short of impressed by Lopez's work at third base, and it's for that reason that I'm willing to give him a little bit of a break at the plate for the time being.