Three years ago, in one of the more embarrassing moments inhistory, John McLaren thought that he could send a message to the rival by beating them in a preseason game. If that was far-fetched then, today it would've been impossible, because I don't think those were even the Angels that the M's were playing against.
Don't get me wrong; I'm happy with winning 10-5. There's no reason not to be. Erik Bedard pitched well and felt healthy. The M's got a home run from Gabe Gross, and another grand slam from Alex Liddi. Josh Lueke threw some good pitches. Today was a pretty positive day.
But you look at the players the split-squad Angels put on the field and you begin to understand why Spring Training statistics can be so misleading. The best Angel to play was probably Peter Bourjos (and he went 3-4). Behind him, God, I don't know, Reggie Willits? Super prospect Mike Trout? It sure as hell wasn't any of their pitchers. The Angels aren't known for their crop of young pitching prospects, and the guys they pitched today who actually have Major League experience are bad.
So the Mariners hitters weren't facing great pitchers, and the Mariners pitchers weren't facing great hitters. It's nice to win. Winning puts people in a good mood. But there's nothing substantial I can read into Ichiro facing Matt Palmer or Alex Liddi torching Ryan Chaffee, and all in all today was basically eight and a half innings of practice.
- Erik Bedard struggled a bit with his command and came away saying he didn't feel quite as good as he did the last time. Performance-wise, I mean. Physically, nothing's barking. But while his command might've been off, his stuff was fine, with the usual low-90s heat and high-70s curve. It's good to see him sustaining his velocity in his longest outing of the month.
What I thought was interesting was that the lefty Bedard didn't face a single lefty batter, and he kept challenging righties inside with both of his primary weapons. A lot of times, you'll see guys live over the outer half against opposite-handed bats, but Bedard's an exception, as he likes coming in. After doing some checking, it seems it's always been this way - or at least for as long as PITCHfx has been around. This might be a reason why Bedard's actually been better against righties than lefties for his career.
- In the first inning, Angels starter Matt Palmer threw one pitchout and attempted eight pickoff throws. The righty Palmer, it seems, is working hard to improve his ability to control the running game this spring, which is a smart idea given that he's always putting people on.
- During the game, it was announced that the Mariners were changing Michael Pineda's official measurements from 6'5 245 to 6'7 260. I know this doesn't have anything to do with the game itself but whatever. The first thing to come to mind is that Pineda now has at least 50 pounds on Doug Fister, who is an inch taller than him. The second thing to come to mind is that it's weird that a 22-year-old gained two inches from whenever his last measurement was taken. And the third thing to come to mind is that the perceived velocity on Pineda's fastball must be ridiculous. He already works in the 94-98mph range. Throw in the fact that he's releasing the ball closer to the plate than most other guys and you've got the ingredients for a dominant, bat-missing heater.
- Aaron Laffey worked a couple innings out of the bullpen. The good news is that he hit 89mph a few times, which has historically been rare for him. The bad news is that the Mariners forced him to face eight righties and no lefties, and one of those righties ripped a bad slider into left for an extra-base hit to drive in a run. Unlike Bedard, Laffey is probably not a guy who should be trying to bust righties inside. He has neither the stuff nor the command.
- The big, fun story is that Alex Liddi homered for the third consecutive day, and hit a grand slam for the second. Yesterday's slam came off a meatball thrown by a minor league reliever. Today's slam also came off a meatball thrown by a minor league reliever, as someone named Ryan Chaffee left a 2-1 fastball literally in the middle of the strike zone. It's important to understand that Liddi isn't hitting these things against pitchers he'd face in the bigs. Of course, it's also important to understand that he's punishing pitches he should punish, and that he's got big-time power. Both of his slams were gone off the bat. Conclusion? Dingers!
- It probably isn't helping Michael Saunders that, while he struggles to get going, Milton Bradley's ripping the ball everywhere, Ryan Langerhans is ripping the ball everywhere, and Gabe Gross just went deep. The young guys who seem to be having the hardest time of it right now are the young guys who've gotten a taste of the bigs. It's the virgins who're opening eyes. Don't be disgusting.
Friday baseball tomorrow, on Friday! We're back on 710, and for at least the first few innings you'll be able to listen to Michael Pineda go to work against the Mitch Talbot and Chad Durbin. The Mariners will face better pitchers tomorrow than they did today, but only just barely.and the boring-ass