Theentered the bottom of the ninth trailing the 9-4, and six batters later they were trailing the Royals 9-8. Bringing a game back from the brink is always such an extraordinary thrill, as you get to miraculously stave off what once felt inevitable. The trouble with such a desperate rally, however, is that once it reaches a certain level, you start to believe in it. You start to believe in the momentum, and you start to believe that the comeback is unstoppable. More often than not, the comeback is stoppable, as we saw today. And that can leave you feeling even worse. We didn't just have the Mariners lose today - we had them lose, then fight to bring it back, then lose again, for real.
One time when I was a kid, we had to put our dog down. We took him to the vet, and after the vet administered the lethal injection, I cried, and then the dog's muscles jerked a few times, and then I cried again. Never believe too hard in the jerk.
Doug Fister went six innings in his start, but I don't think he found the delivery he's been looking for. While he threw 96 pitches, only 55 of them were strikes - well below Fister's normal level - and he still seemed to be leaving a lot of balls elevated. The Royals hit 15 of their 23 balls in play in the air, and of their 35 swings, only one of them missed - that whiff by 27-year-old nobody infielder Irving Falu. In short, Fister didn't make the progress we've been hoping he'd make.
Fister didn't have the sexiest spring a year ago, so again, I urge you not to grow too concerned. The fact that I'm actually bothering to cover these games now isn't meant to suggest they have any more significance than they ever have, and some pitchers just aren't cut out for Arizona. All there is to take away is that Fister presumably isn't too pleased with himself, which means it may still be some time before he's pitching with confidence.
- I don't know if there's any point to analyzing the relievers anymore since it seems like the Opening Day bullpen is just about all figured out, but Jamey Wright, Royce Ring, and Brandon League all made appearances in relief of Fister, with varying results. Wright threw a perfect inning against three bad hitters. Ring finally allowed his first runs when he walked the right-handed Billy Butler and hung a slider to the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera, further cementing the notion that Ring should never face a right-handed bat for as long as he lives. And League allowed a bunch of hits on groundballs, for which he seems to have an uncanny knack. It looked to be all fastballs and splitters, so if League is really working on his slider, there wasn't any indication of it today.
I don't think I'm going to enjoy watching this bullpen very much early on in the season. But at least it's cheap. If I have to watch Leap Year, better to catch the matinee.
- Today's offensive hero was Michael Saunders, which is exactly how I like it to be. In the third, he got a curveball over the outer half from lefty Bruce Chen and went with it the other way, blasting a double to left-center. In the fourth, he went down and ripped a low-inside fastball into right. And in the ninth, behind in the count, he got a curveball over the outer half from righty Jeremy Jeffress and pulled it beyond the right field fence for a two-run homer.
Three different positive results from three different swings. He stayed back on an offspeed pitch breaking away from him and put a charge in it. He caught up to a hard inside fastball and put a charge in it. And he stayed back on an offspeed pitch breaking towards him and put a charge in it. It's one thing to see Saunders hitting solid singles like he did last night, but today's show of power is another thing entirely, and it makes me warm in all the right places.
- Biographical information is always the default well announcers go to whenever a guy steps up to the plate or comes into the game. Here's Michael Saunders, a kid from Victoria, British Columbia. I get it when it's unusual, because unusual is interesting, but it is typically usual, and usual is uninteresting. When it comes to learning something about a player's ability, giving his hometown is literally just about the least informative thing you can say, short of introducing him by name and then talking about angles and squares and things you learned in geometry.
In case you can't tell, I didn't take many notes today. Tomorrow is our first and only true split-squad day of the spring, with Aaron Laffey and the M's going up against the at 1:05, and then Erik Bedard and the rest of the M's going up against the at 7:05. Both games will be televised, although given that the team will be broken apart, it will be on you to put it back together to make for a comprehensible viewing experience.