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Mariners Stem Safeco Talk By Not Scoring On Road


While the Mariners did come into play on Monday winners of two in a row, the prevailing discussion of late has been Safeco Field, and what to do about it. On the year, the Mariners have posted a .588 OPS at home, and a .725 OPS on the road. They scored 66 runs in nine games over an encouraging road trip, and then they scored 23 runs in nine games over a discouraging homestand. All the offensive momentum was stopped, tased, and blown up, and while the Safeco discussion isn't anything fresh, it still lingers. Still, there are plenty of people who want to see it changed, and still, there's some reason to believe those people are right. It's hard to score in Seattle, and perhaps it's too hard.

Tonight, the Mariners did their part to stop that discussion in its tracks by scoring all of one run in nine innings in Chase Field, which is one of the most hitter-friendly environments in baseball. People have always said that Mariners could end the Safeco conversation once and for all by hitting and scoring runs at Safeco. They ignored the alternate route, by which the Mariners cease hitting and scoring runs away from Safeco. It's all about minimizing the home/road distance, and this is a way to do that. Kudos to the cursed Mariners for their unexpected innovation.

I'll be up front with you and say I basically blew this game off. No sense in lying, since you'd figure it out eventually. I had other things I was working on, and by the time I was done with them, the Mariners were behind 4-0 in the middle innings, and I thought to myself, nahhh. Why bother? It's one game. One game without Felix in it. One game that no one's going to remember. I guess Aaron Hill and Diamondbacks fans might remember this game, on account of Aaron Hill's hitting for the cycle, but I can't think of too many major accomplishments I care about less than a guy on the other team hitting for the cycle. Congratulations to Aaron Hill on evenly distributing his hits. His double arguably should've been a single and a throwing error on Michael Saunders. I won't complain about the decision though because I just can't care.

I think, given the triple-digit heat outside, the Mariners did well to make sure their bats were extra icy cold. They neglected to remember that Chase Field has a roof and is air-conditioned, rendering refreshing ice-cold bats unnecessary, but I'm not going to criticize a man or a group of men for being too cautious and too prepared. Better to have and not need than to need and not have, right? What if the Mariners didn't come with cold bats, and then the Chase Field air conditioner wasn't working? Then there would be egg on the Mariners' face. Egg and sweat, which would be a revolting combination, although mostly because of the egg.

There's just not much to report here. Oliver Perez made his 2012 Major League debut out of the bullpen and threw his fastball between 94-96 miles per hour. Armed with that fastball in Tacoma, he generated 19 walks and 42 strikeouts in 31 innings, so now the Mariners basically have Matt Thornton all over again, except it's young Thornton, pre-good Thornton, and this version is 30 years old. One can totally understand why Perez caught the Mariners' organizational eye, because his velocity is way up and you can't ignore a lefty who can throw that hard, but remember how excited we were to be rid of Thornton when we were rid of Thornton? These situations are difficult to deal with objectively from the inside. Objectively, you should be patient with wild, hard-throwing lefties. But one runs out of patience, and plenty of teams have run out of patience with Oliver Perez. I will note that, in Perez's debut tonight, he threw 18 of 24 pitches for strikes, so I didn't see that coming. He walked one of six guys, which I more saw coming.

And Hector Noesi got hit. He allowed consecutive 0-and-2 singles in the first. The second one plated a run, and came on a slider in the low-away corner. I read that Geoff Baker's calling it a bad pitch, and that he still thinks I'm dumb for giving Noesi the benefit of the doubt in that one Yankees start, but if Baker wants to feel like the alpha dog I won't try to get in his way. That 0-and-2 slider to Justin Upton was not quite the pitch that Hector Noesi wanted to throw, or that Eric Wedge wanted to see Noesi throw. Would've been better to have the ball end up more down and more away. It still wasn't a bad pitch; it was a mediocre pitch, or an average pitch. No one's going to argue that Noesi needs to do better when he's ahead in the count, and I guess what's encouraging is that at least he can routinely get ahead in the count.

Evidently Bill Krueger was criticizing Noesi after the game for joking around with Jesus Montero before the game. Krueger's argument is that Noesi showed a lack of focus. My counter-argument would be that maybe Noesi wasn't adequately focused, but that can't possibly be gleaned from watching him laugh with his catcher. Most pitchers are quiet and withdrawn on game days, but not every pitcher has to act the same. Whatever. Hector Noesi has good stuff and some problems. An assortment of problems, which we'd all like to see him improve. This season is all about teaching him and other young players lessons, and they're all frequently being presented with lessons.

953 words on a baseball game I barely watched. That Casper Wells cat is all right, and I wouldn't be opposed to a Mariners lineup that has him playing in place of Ichiro a little more often. 990. More baseball tomorrow. Catch the fever!