Only 3rd time I can find a #Mariners pitcher has recorded 0.1 IP without a BF. Paniagua in 1999 on a pickoff, Fleming in 1991 on CS.— Jeff Evans (@jeffrevans) April 2, 2014
Miller hits a pair of screaming home runs yet again, Justin Smoak comes up with a huge hit, Erasmo Ramirez looks terrific and the M's blow it wide open late for the second game in a row.
I'm going to spoil everything before we even begin.
BRAD MILLER WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
The first lefty test. We've all known for a while that the Mariners were probably going to struggle against lefties given their stacked side, but the extent was always unknown. Smoak's had weird flip-flopping splits, Ackley was fine against them when he was good, and Cano hits everybody. While the lineup is lefty-heavy, there aren't many guys who fall apart against them like say, Andre Ethier would. I expected disaster tonight and came away thrilled, as the M's knocked off the Angels 8-3.
Despite a two-run bomb to Raul Ibanez, Erasmo Ramirez flashed the potential that has always teased. His change was on point today, and his heat had plenty of movement to it. He always appeared in command on the mound, walked nobody, and generally seemed like the 2012 version of Ramirez. He made Ibanez look silly in the 6th on a pair of back-to-back swinging strikes, and his final change to strike out Kole Calhoun in the 7th was spectacular.
Justin Smoak, hitting right-handed, managed to hit a single against the shift with two strikes. Given his struggles against RHP in the past, that's as positive of a sign as any. Sadly, he was immediately thrown out on a botched hit and run call that Kyle Seager appeared to flat out miss. I'm not a big fan of stealing bases to begin with, let alone sending somebody as slow as Smoak. The hit and run has a purpose, but using it when the guy is going to be meat unless it's executed perfectly is a bad idea. Let's hope we see less of that.
Smoak didn't waste any time building on his night against C.J. Wilson, cracking a line drive into the gap that scored all three batters after Robinson Cano was intentionally walked. Imaging Smoak as a productive hitter anywhere in the lineup, let alone after Miller and Cano, is tantalizing. It's early. Don't overreact. But fuck it, he looks good. I'm ready for this to be the greatest troll job by a Mariner of all time. Make us all look stupid, please. I'm begging you.
Speaking of looking good, Ackley is still crushing line drives. All of the good signs from spring training and part of last year are seemingly carrying over so far, as Ackley's been able to go the other way, down the right field line, and into the gaps. Today's RBI double barely missed flying out of the park. The ball is just making a different sound off the bat, and his poise at the plate is remarkable.
Stefen Romero came up hacking in his first major league PA, flying out to right. Don't expect to see a lot of walks from Romero this year, as he was a hacker in the minors and he'll likely be a hacker in the bigs.
Abraham Almonte hasn't been particularly good in the minors from the right side, but that didn't stop him from plating the first run of the game with an RBI double against Wilson in the 3rd. He's still pretty unpolished, but you can't deny that he's got something there that could turn positive in a hurry.
The Brad Miller show is still in full effect, and Miller turned around on a C.J. Wilson fastball and yanked it out to right. Brad Miller barreling up balls is a thing of beauty, and watching his lean-back followthrough on ripped balls is a delight. It was so nice, he did it twice, once again for insurance runs in the 9th, on a ball that he simply crushed. Miller loves himself some multi-homer nights, and he's barreling up the ball like a superstar. He's got eight of his ten career homers in four games. The floor is high and the ceiling is REALLY high. Dude. Can. Rake.
Robinson Cano was awarded a base hit on an incredibly routine cue shot, a straight boot job by David Freese. Official scoring is weird. Is it better to give a pitcher a hit over giving a defender an error? How do you effectively "home court" a play like that?
Speaking of booting balls, Brad Miller had another one on an easy grounder tonight, but I don't want to say anything negative about Miller if I don't have to because I love him and please stay forever with your perfectly coiffed helmet hair, Bradley.
Ramirez was sat down after just 93 pitches through 7 innings, but Tom Wilhelmsen took over in the 8th and promptly froze Mike Trout on a vintage 12-6 curve. The replay showed Trout's reaction, and you could see the words - "Wow." But Tom struggled mightily with command after that, allowing a Pujols double and then a bunch of balls in a row. He had a tailor made double play ball to get out of the inning, but Cano's throw to first was short and wide, and Smoak failed to make a scoop that he usually does.
Write a post about how it's hard to understand Joe Beimel/Joe Beimel records an out without throwing a single pitch. His LOOGY debut against Raul Ibanez ended before it begun, as he used a killer delay move to nab David Freese sleeping at first. One of the longer pickoff plays I've seen, but that's quite a weapon. Jeff Evans points out how rare that's been in M's history:
Tomorrow brings another test, as the Mariners will call on James Paxton take the mound to close out the series. No matter what, the Mariners have started the season out with a series win, and somehow it is their first against LAA since 2012. The Mariners are 2-0. The Angels are 0-2. Dance. Get irrational. Nothing's holding you back.