I didn't write a lot after the' 2011 home opener, for a variety of reasons. For one, I wasn't home. For two, I'd been drinking. For three, I didn't get to my computer until almost one in the morning. And for four, there wasn't a lot to say, since after the pregame festivities wrapped up, the stormed out to an 11-0 lead in the fourth inning. I don't know if it was the most miserable live baseball experience in my life. I suspect that I've forgotten a few others (or "repressed them" as my therapist prefers to say). But even if it wasn't #1, it was damn close, and it's the only baseball game I can remember leaving early. I spent three hours driving to Seattle for the game, I paid good money for admission, and by the bottom of the fifth we were all sitting in a bar several blocks away, talking about something else entirely.
I've been quietly mad at the Indians ever since. Ever since that game, which they won, and ever since that series, which they swept. All I wanted out of this season at the beginning was to be able to enjoy it for at least the first couple months, and the Indians tried to kill the Mariners dead before the season was ever really underway. The M's would later recover and hang in the race for a little bit, but I didn't forgive the Indians for what they attempted to do.
So, for me, this series was an absolute delight. This series saw the Mariners get the revenge I so badly wanted them to exact. I'm a little bummed out that they came so close to completing a four-game sweep, but then the Indians barely got to think about Shin-Soo Choo's walk-off yesterday before dropping the nightcap, and today's blowout was the perfect conclusion. This was very nearly a perfect three days.
The Indians entered in trouble, 62-61 and 4.5 games back. The Indians emerged under .500, 6.5 back pending thegame tonight. Their playoff chances aren't dead completely, but they're the lowest they've been all season, and I'm giddy with the knowledge that the Mariners dealt them a blow.
So f*** you, Cleveland. You deserved to get hit back for what you tried to do in April, and for that matter you deserved to get hit back for all that you've done before. Mess with the bull, you get the horns. And mess with the parakeet, you get the talons, which aren't that big, but which can scrape and hurt a little if you don't clip them just right. Take care of your parakeets, everybody!
Some blowout bullet holes, which is a weird thing to write:
- It's too late for Felix Hernandez to make a Cy Young push, unless he starts spinning nothing but shutouts. That's just the God's honest truth, what with what guys like Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver have been able to accomplish. But even though Felix's season isn't ending with any hardware, more recently he's been throwing maybe his best stuff all year. Felix's strikeout counts from his last five starts:
That "2" obviously stands out, but it's the exception, and besides, that game was against the . The Red Sox shouldn't play in the Major Leagues. The Red Sox should play in the Nobility Leagues. They'll have to found the Nobility Leagues first, but the Red Sox have a way of doing whatever they want.
Today, Felix was not rolling from the start. He actually struggled in the bottom of the first, walking two of the first five hitters and loading the bases. After that, though, he would face 23 more guys, and he would strike out ten of them - including Lonnie Chisenhall to end the first. Once Felix settled in, as is so often the case, there wasn't a lot the opponent could do. Yeah, the Indians pushed across a pair of runs, but they wasted their one opportunity to really do some damage.
There are frustrating versions of Felix Hernandez. The version of Felix Hernandez that has each and every one of his pitches working, though - that guy's more fun than lighting things on fire.
- In the top of the fourth inning, Wily Mo Pena turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead by hitting this:
Some things to know about that home run:
(1) It was hit to dead center field
(2) It cleared the fence by a good margin
(3) It came off a cutter low and away
(4) Pena was out on his front foot
(5) It was hit off the end of the bat
(6) Pena said in a postgame interview that he was basically swinging one-handed, because his other hand hurt
Everybody knows that Wily Mo Pena is strong. Sometimes, though, I think people might underestimate just how strong he really is. Wily Mo Pena has a very different definition of inside-the-park home run from everybody else.
- In case you don't know what Wily Mo Pena's voice sounds like, sit back and try to imagine what Wily Mo Pena's voice sounds like. That's what Wily Mo Pena's voice sounds like. It's the opposite of what it's like with Jason Vargas.
- Besides the home run, Pena also doubled, singled, and drew a walk. It was his first walk of the season, in his 68th plate appearance. It was a four-pitch walk. It was a four-pitch walk against Josh Tomlin, who entered with the lowest walk rate in the American League. It was the only walk Tomlin would issue in the game. Never bet on baseball.
- In his final plate appearance, which came in the top of the eighth, Pena was hit in the shoulder by a Chad Durbin fastball. A 90mph Chad Durbin fastball hit Wily Mo Pena square in the shoulder. Pena didn't flinch and looked towards the mound before walking slowly to first. You could practically hear the palpitations.
- For a guy who doesn't strike anyone out, Josh Tomlin began this game by striking a lot of guys out, generating five through the first two innings. Somehow this also wound up being the first time in Tomlin's Major League career that he didn't last through the fifth. Tomlin came in having made 37 consecutive starts of at least five innings to begin his career, which tied the record. But it was the Mariners of all teams who prevented him from taking sole possession. Still, it was a good run by a pitcher I only recently learned isn't Mitch Talbot.
- Felix picked up ten strikeouts in six innings. Jamey Wright picked up five in two. After Josh Lueke then struck out Lou Marson in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Blowers remarked "Felix, Wright, and Lueke, they've punched out a lot of Indians," which was one of those broadcast sentences you never want to have removed from the context.
- When he woke up yesterday morning, Kyle Seager had one extra-base hit. As he flies back to Seattle, he's got seven extra-base hits, having followed a successful doubleheader by going 4-for-4 with a walk, a single, and three doubles. All of a sudden, his OPS is two points behind Dustin Ackley's, where barely over a week ago it sat at .390. We're still obviously at the point where Seager's numbers can change in a hurry, so you don't want to put too much stock in what they say. But I'm really looking forward to seeing what they say a month from now. What if Seager is a legitimate option? What if?
- In the third inning, Felix faceplanted while diving for an Ezequiel Carrera bunt. It shook him up for a couple minutes, and later in the dugout he was examined for any wooziness. Felix checked out just fine, but that was one of those maneuvers you never want to see a pitcher try. Yet pitchers keep trying those maneuvers. Pitchers keep diving for balls in play, and they keep reaching for grounders and liners with their bare hands. Pitchers are stupid. Pitchers are all completely stupid. Between every inning, a groundskeeper runs out to the mound and applies a layer of sawdust to dry out the drool.
- The Mariners committed four errors, while the Indians committed zero. I'd be interested in seeing the historical win/loss data for similar games.
- Dustin Ackley has struck out 41 times this season. Swinging, 24 times, and looking, 17 times. That's 1.4 swinging strikeouts for each called strikeout, where the league average is 2.9. I haven't checked the data but it feels to me like the overwhelming majority of Ackley's called strikeouts have come on pitches around the outer edge. It'll be interesting to see whether that's an adjustment he'll make, or a potential weakness he'll have.