Now, here was a baseball game. It was a miracle of excellence; a triumph of skill. Dozens of finally tuned athletes and Miguel Cabrera spent over three hours putting on display the abilities and talents they have, accumulatively, devoted tens of thousands of hours crafting. It was also a cold Tuesday night in April in which the Mariners lost in a manner so dull and so well known to fans of the team they should consider trademarking it to offset costs. If the Mariners hired a sneaky accountant who somehow figured a way to pay the team for losses like tonight's then the fear of the TV rights bubble bursting would be far lessened.
I don't want to spill too many words on the frustration I felt watching this game. The overriding sense of deja vu touched almost the entire experience. The young players didn't hit. The veterans didn't hit. Aaron Harang had an enjoyable if brief first start and the bullpen wore down against a very good Tigers offensive attack. It felt hopeless the moment Miguel Cabrera's home run cleared the fence and thankfully hope had the decency to not show her whorish face the rest of the game. I don't really want to focus too much on all that because we've seen it before. We'll doubtlessly see it so many more times. Baseball is a giant mass of predictable outcomes made interesting when a few of those outcomes veer into a new and unpredictable direction. I'm talking about Doug Fister, one of my favorite pitchers in baseball.
It's easy to feel the sting watching Doug Fister. Like R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo or David Arias/Ortiz, Fister has thrived in the absence of toiling in the teal and white. "Why do they always get better?" we wail before some savvy fan reminds us that they really don't and you should shut up, idiot. As Brendan wrote the Doug Fister trade is a bad one. That's not going to change. But the experience of watching Doug Fister is still, at least for me, almost joyous. Tonight every loopy, first pitch curveball made me smile. Watching the Mariner hitters flail at his perfectly located change made me giggle but nothing, NOTHING made me happier than a few Maddux-esque tailing fastballs against LH hitters. That pitch takes so much courage to throw. Miss a few inches to the right and it's a BP fastball for a lefty. There are few right-handers that use the tailing two-seamer off the inside edge to the left-handed hitter. But Fister is one of them and he gets such good movement on that pitch it's almost impossible to hit when located well. Doug Fister, of all people, has developed a killer out pitch. Doug Fister. He was nothing. Then, he was kind of something. Now he's amazing, at least to me.
Don't forget Doug Fister. Everyone knows Cerberus but there's a good chance the next great Mariner is toiling away somewhere far from Top 10 lists. You'll hear a rumor about him one day, when a scout notices him after he goes to the ballpark to scout someone else. Doug Fister, Kyle Seager, Brandon Maurer, Mike Piazza, Brad Miller (?). You never know.
- Aaron Harang made his Mariner debut tonight. 5 innings, 6 strikeouts, 0 walks and 3 runs, 2 of which came when Miguel Cabrera decided a well located fastball was sufficiently offensive to send it sharply some 400 feet in the other direction. No one really has many expectations for Harang but it's worth noting that in his first start he struck out more hitters than Blake Beavan has in all but 2 of his 43 starts. When you're replacing Blake Beavan being Aaron Harang is just fine.
- The Mariners have played 15 games and scored 55 runs. Over 162 games that projects to about 595 runs. For comparison last year's team had scored 56 runs and went on to score 619. It's very, very early but so far the deck chairs appear neatly and somewhat uninterestingly rearranged.
- I do not yet have MLB.TV up and running at home so I'm unable to get the appropriate screenshot but at one point tonight ROOT had a graphic updating viewers on the status of various players. For Stephen Pryor, the graphic read "15 day DL with strained Latissimus Dorsi." For one instant ROOT went full "Fantastic Mr. Fox" with their Latin and I can only hope it's the beginning of a trend.
- Here are 2,000 words about John Hirschbeck's balls and strikes:
- Batting average is the horse drawn buggy. Batting average is the Commodore 64. Batting average is a safe harbor for the ignorance of generations who's knowledge has run aground in the Sea of Progress. Dustin Ackley is batting .114. Sometimes batting average tells you what you need to know.