Bizarre day in Peoria as James Paxton gets hit around but pitches well, both teams wallow in preventable errors to tie the game, Tom Wilhelmsen melts down and everyone forgets how to play baseball. Here are a few bullet points on this Saturday evening to run down what we saw from the M's today:
- James Paxton's line really kind of betrays how well he was pitching. He opened the game by giving up back-to-back singles, and didn't get out of the first two innings without giving up three runs. But in the first innings, Paxton was throwing fastballs. And by fastballs, I mean that's all he was throwing. By my count, only four of his first 24 pitches were offspeed, and although he was hitting his spots well, the Giants were hitting him hard. It's fine though, command has never been an issue for Paxton, and in fact he walked his first batter of the spring in the fourth inning today, being solid as steel until then. It seemed he was going to be pulled in the second after taking a line drive to the knee, but it was strangely only after he got pelted that he began to settle down and get into a good groove. His curve looked really, really great, and though he was scratching the surface of 92 in the first inning, he had his velocity up to 94 by his fourth and final inning. His line on the day was 4IP, 6H, 3R, 1BB, and 4Ks.
- The infield behind Paxton, however, was a bit of a different story. Actually, screw it. Literally everyone forgot how to play baseball today, Giants and Mariners alike. It was a mess, and Jesus Montero wasn't even in camp, although he has clearly left a shadow of himself in the Peoria Sports Complex on his way back to Tacoma. Numerous dropped balls in the outfield by the Giants, the sun catching Almonte's eye on a routine pop-up, Nick Franklin watching a throw from Zunino trail into centerfield...eh, it's spring. The Mariners had four errors and the Giants had two. We can ball our arms into fists and whine while placing them at our sides, but these guys will hear about it coming into warmups tomorrow while we sleep our Saturday night beers off in comfort. So who wins?
- Abraham Almonte hit a home run. Many think he's going to come out of the gate as the M's opening day CF, but those speedy little legs and beaming gusto can't really hide that he's trotting out a .167 average this spring. And while we've said time and time again that statistics don't matter, what we really mean is that Robinson Cano isn't going to hit .600 through July because holy shit that would be stupid, but also he's hitting .600 in spring training because he's Robinson Cano. Almonte hitting .167 in spring training is a lot different than hitting .167 at Safeco in May, but it's also .167. But I'm gonna choose to pay attention to this statistic: Almonte has seven hits this spring training. Two of them are home runs. Abraham Almonte hits home runs in 30% of his at bats. Wow! That's really good! Yes, yes yes. I'm sticking to that.
- (.gif thanks to Colin)
- Fernando Rodney came into the game in the fifth with a two-run lead following productive third and fourth innings from Almonte, Saunders, Smoak, and yes, Corey Hart. Rodney took to the mound, tilted his hat so the brim was touching his ear, and proceeded to bean Tony Abreu on his second pitch. After this, he gave up a double to Brandon Belt, who hit the first base umpire in the process. Two batters later, and the game was tied with another single, errant command from Rodney, and a few ticks off his fastball. Tyler Colvin walked up and looked at two pitches from Rodney, the first of which was off the plate for a ball, and the second down the center of the plate that could have gone either way but was, yes, called for a ball. The strike zone had been a little wonky all day, but it was far from entering CB Bucknor territory. After he was ejected, Rodney claimed that all he did was tell the umpire it was a strike, and suddenly he had earned his first career ejection. But watching on television made it seem Rodney was reciting Melville to home plate or something, so unless he usually takes seven times as long to say a sentence as the rest of us, he definitely said a bit more to the umpire. Which is fun, I guess, because the rest of the game wasn't really fun.
- Tom Wilhelmsen has been having a great spring. I'm going to blame the Times, because why not, but it only makes sense that once we recognize progress it gets immediately torn apart
dannyhultzentaijuanwalkerjustinsmoakdustinackleybrandonmaurermic. Tom was hitting 96 today and I didn't see if he tried out his new cutter (like everyone else in all of baseball, yes, he's developed a cutter). But like classic 2013 Tom, his command disappeared, and before you knew it, the Giants had put five more runs on the board. 12-5. Well, at least it was more interesting than a tie.
- Kyle Seager tried to kill someone today, after he lost his bat into the stands. It apparently hit someone in the head, who had to be carted off in a wheelchair with head bandages. I'm going to wait to see if the victim is alright to comment further, and our thoughts definitely go out to the victim, but you know there is a metaphor about the Mariners in there somewhere.
- It may have just been because an HD television broadcast has better sonic fidelity than the radio, but I felt I could hear the audience much better in today's game than any yet. Alongside the classic presence of trumpet guy was someone trying his best to shout made up chants at Mariners players. I've never quite understood this tradition in baseball, and if anyone at Safeco starts to chant "We Like Mike!" when Zunino comes up to bat this year, I'm going to just start drinking, and drinking hard. I mean, look, if it's your thing, have at it. But we can do better. WE CAN DO BETTER.
- Lastly, I will never understand the continued adoration lavished upon Willie Bloomquist from the Peoria crowd. Well, actually, let me rephrase that. I do understand it. It's fun seein' ol Willie trot out in Mariners blue again, just like the good ol' days, when you used to call into the firm and tell them you needed two weeks in March, and you would take Kevin out of class and pile into the Winnebago to drink Bud Lite in the Arizona sun with your wraparound sunglasses, gold chain, and unbuttoned beach shirt, reading emails on your blackberry only so you could respond with a watching baseball with the family, be back next week, as if that itself were the reason you were there. I get that. But when Jack Z opens up the payroll books and resigns Willie Bloomquist and Raul Ibanez in the second decade of the 2000's, your cheers embolden him. They say Yes, more! and appeal to the kind of logic that predicates success on the measure of a pleased, wealthy few and not, you know, winning baseball games. This is why we have a recession. This is why the government doesn't work. This is why the world is broken. It's because you are cheering louder for Willie Bloomquist than Robinson Cano. STOP IT. STOP IT NOW.
- Also a reminder that we need new images and .gifs for game threads. Scott has a bit of a contest going for your best entry, where you can win a $50 Oakley gift card. But forget about the sunglasses, and do it for yourself. For us. For the game threads. Get out your best condors, falling elephants, dinosaurs and dying Mickey Mouses. Mice. Meese. You know, fuck it, just click the link and make a neat picture.