- A lot of people are mad at Wakamatsu for using Jesus Colome and then Kanekoa Texeira in relief, guys who allowed the Angels back into the game. When Colome entered, it was 7-2 in the fifth. When Texeira departed, it was 7-4 in the sixth, with the bases loaded. The Angels didn't have a pulse, but then the bullpen came in and performed CPR.
Let's be reasonable, though. No, Colome isn't very good. No, Texeira isn't much better, if he's better at all. But when Colome came into the game, it was the fifth inning, our win expectancy was 86%, and the leverage was fairly low. And when Texeira came into the game, it was the sixth inning, our win expectancy was 90%, and the leverage was even lower. Those are the times that you use the soft underbelly of the bullpen. Yeah, Colome and Texeira were bad, but when things got really intense, Wak went to Shawn Kelley. That was the right call. Maybe Colome was left in a little too long, and maybe the same goes for Texeira, but you can't fault Wak for using them, because it doesn't make sense. For one thing, we don't really have a shutdown reliever. And for another, even if we did, he can't pitch every game whenever we have a lead.
Middle relievers are unreliable, and the sad truth about any game started by Ian Snell is that you'll probably have to go to your middle relief. Today, the M's got burned. It happens. I just can't see the sense in blaming Wak. You can blame the team for having Colome and Texeira on the roster in the first place if you want, I suppose, but it's not like we have a ton of superior options for the back of the bullpen.
Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira are mediocre. Mediocre relievers sometimes pitch poorly. You should still expect them to be able to handle a 7-2 lead.
- Ian Snell now has 22 strikeouts and 18 walks on the season - 16 and 16 as a starter. Ian Snell might be in a better place psychologically now that he's a Mariner, but what we've learned from all this is that being depressed isn't what made him struggle. What made him struggle was that he stopped doing whatever it was he did to succeed. Seattle, as an organization, gambled that a change of scenery would be enough for Snell to re-discover his younger self, but as is so often the case, the change of scenery didn't work out, as he remains an unwatchable pile of crap.
I don't mean to be rude. Ian Snell, I'm sure, is a good person with a lovely heart. But I write about these guys as players since I can't know them as people, and as a player, Ian Snell sucks. I look at him and I can't actually envision a good pitcher. It's like how I look at Griffey and can't actually envision a home run. Snell has talent in there somewhere - he wouldn't be here if he didn't - but it's either buried, in pieces, or dormant, and the M's haven't been able to bring it out. I guess he could always have an epiphany, but with Snell staying bad and Jack Wilson staying hurt, it's looking like we can call that trade a big ol' bust.
- I was in Canada last December, and as part of my trip, I went to Ottawa to see my favorite hockey team take on the Montreal Canadiens. At one point, an Ottawa player and a Montreal player were chasing the same loose puck, but the puck hit a ref who was standing in the way, took a lucky bounce, and gave the Montreal player a gift breakaway, which he converted into a goal. The goal was a backbreaker, and Ottawa went on to lose.
Josh Wilson's infield single wasn't quite the same thing. The win expectancy swing between Wilson's grounding out and Wilson reaching base when his hit struck an umpire was only 4%. Little. But then Ichiro followed with a run-scoring double, and all of a sudden, an inning that should've been over saw the M's cut the Angels' lead in half. The win expectancy swing of the accident was only 4%, but the swing of the whole series of events was twice as large, and it could've been larger had Mike Brumley not gotten Wilson thrown out at home.
That's one of those things that, had the Mariners won, would've left a really bitter taste in the Angels' and the Angels fans' mouths. It's a complete accident, and it almost never happens, but that goes beyond an umpire blowing a call. That's an umpire directly turning an out into a baserunner. They would've had every reason to be pissed.
I guess they could still be pissed. That'd be weird.
- Oh, Brumley. After Wilson's ump-aided single, the M's had two on and two out when Ichiro lined a ball to center. Eliezer Alfonzo scored with ease, but then Brumley decided to wave Wilson around all the way from first, and he was thrown out by ten feet. I really do feel bad for pointing out Mike Brumley's poor decisions so often, but I wouldn't have to do it if he didn't make so many poor decisions. I know it's a thankless job. That doesn't mean you should try to make things happen on your own. The M's have been one of the worst baserunning teams in baseball so far this year, and Brumley's a big reason why.
- Another reason why: knuckleheaded clumsiness. Eliezer Alfonzo tried to go first-to-third on a Josh Wilson single in the fifth. Eliezer Alfonzo is a catcher, and unlike Rob Johnson, he runs like one. I don't know if that was Alfonzo's decision or Brumley's, but even though Alfonzo nearly made it in safely, why risk it? Why risk it in a 7-2 game with Ichiro stepping to the plate? Alfonzo's awkward little rolling bellyflop didn't seem big at the time, since the M's were up five and had a win expectancy of 93%, but it sure looms large now.
I get why we've seen aggressive baserunning from guys like Figgins and Gutierrez. I don't get why we've seen aggressive baserunning from guys like Alfonzo and Kotchman. Aggression, like patience at the plate, isn't good on its own. You have to pick your spots. If you don't pick your spots, you look dumb.
- Eliezer Alfonzo showcased his entire skillset this afternoon.
1) He stood up kind of awkwardly and still threw out a baserunner
2) He handed the Angels a run by sticking his glove too far forward on a Hideki Matsui swing attempt with the bases loaded
3) He got thrown out trying to take an extra base
4) He struck out flailing at breaking balls out of the zone
5) He grounded into a double play on a ball out of the zone
6) He hit two singles on balls out of the zone
7) He homered on a ball in the zone
That's it. That's Eliezer Alfonzo. Sometimes a scout can get a bad read on a guy when he's only around for one game and the player only plays nine innings, because nine innings usually aren't enough for a player to show who he is. Eliezer Alfonzo showed who he is. Eliezer Alfonzo seized a rare playing opportunity by putting his foot down and declaring 'This is me.'
Alfonzo definitely started the game better than he finished it, given the whole interference and double play and all. But we don't expect Alfonzo to be much. He's our fourth-string catcher. And rather than criticize, I think we should celebrate that our fourth-string catcher took a fastball deep over the left field bullpen. Alfonzo really only has one skill at the plate, but when he makes good contact, he's a powerful guy. That home run was demolished. He hit it harder than Jose Lopez thinks is allowed.
- When Kanekoa Texeira came out in the sixth, there had been 232 pitches thrown in the game. 121 of them went for strikes. That's 52%. The best rate for any individual pitcher was Ian Snell's 55%. Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Rodney, and David Aardsma would go on to have trouble throwing strikes, too. Only Jason Bulger and Shawn Kelley were able to speed things up a little bit. On the year, Kelley has thrown 69% of his pitches for strikes. He is the only guy down there you can count on to put the ball in the zone. It's a shame that he seems to allow batters to make solid contact, because he is just that close to being the most likable reliever imaginable.
- Jose Lopez drew two walks. I checked. This is not the first time that's ever happened. 30% of the way into the season, he is now 18% of the way towards achieving his ambitious goal. I could joke about that, but instead I'll be nice and point out that Lopez's current walk rate is actually the highest of his career.
Joe Saunders is awful. Awful awful awful. He really is their Ian Snell, only instead of coming over in a trade, he's just been with the Angels the whole time and gotten worse every year. Saunders used to punch some people out, throw enough strikes, and put the ball on the ground. Now he keeps fewer balls on the ground, and he doesn't strike anyone out because he never throws a pitch in the zone, ever. He's not even hurt. His stuff is the same as it's always been. He's just terrible. Saunders, Scott Kazmir, 2009 hero Matt Palmer - these guys suck.
- But one guy who doesn't suck? Howie Kendrick. I never think of Howie Kendrick as being a powerful guy. Given that he came in with just 24 big league homers to his name, I've always just assumed that he was kind of like Jose Lopez, in that his dingers barely clear the yard. Wrong. Of Kendrick's ten homers last year, the shortest went 402 feet. Eight of his 24 homers have flown at least 420, and he's topped out at 447. He's stronger than he seems, and he proved it today by taking Shawn Kelley deep to straightaway center and then, in the ninth, taking an inside fastball from Aardsma - an inside fastball off the plate - deep the other way to right. The game-winning blast only made it into the first row, but it made it into the first row above a tall wall, 370 feet from the plate, the other way, on an inside fastball.
It was a warm day. The wind was blowing out a little to right field. But that wasn't a bad pitch from David Aardsma. That was an impressive home run by Howie Kendrick. I didn't know that he had that in him.
- The pitch that Aardsma threw to Juan Rivera that wound up on the warning track was not a good pitch. That was an inside fastball in Rivera's wheelhouse, and Aardsma's lucky the game didn't end right there.
- If David Aardsma snares Mike Napoli's comebacker, rather than let it slip out of his glove, it might end up a game-ending double play.