Sick kids and an early call tomorrow morning means, sadly, it's an all bulletpoint recap tonight:
- Straight from the annoted, Webster's Wikipedia:
"Cabooses provided shelter for crew at the end of a train, who were required for switching and shunting, and to keep a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, or overheating axles."
That analogy does as decent a job as any in describing what J.A. Happ has meant to the Mariners this April. While Felix Hernandez has provided all the necessary torque and thrust to drive this team down the tracks it has been Happ keeping an eye on things in the back, making sure everything doesn't fall off the damn rails.
Tonight was perhaps his best so far. He threw a brilliant 6.2 innings, racking up 9 strikeouts against only 1 walk. Early on in the game it became clear that Home Plate umpire Mark Ripperger was going to give Happ the low outside corner to a Ranger lineup stacked with righthanders. Of course knowing and doing are far different things. So it is to Happ's credit that he spent the evening playing a game of "betcha won't call that a strike" with Ripperger:
In his first month as a Mariner, as the most hyped 1-5 rotation in club history largely spit the bit, Happ gave the team 27.1 IP of 3.04 FIP. The walk rate will rise, he will stop looking like a non-divine Cliff Lee and normalcy will largely return. But he picked a hell of a time to have one of his best months as a starter.
While we are jamming about Mariners having amazing months the easy storyline of Nelson Cruz using his bat like a blunderbuss in a sea of pitchforks continued. Cruz had 3 more hits in 4 at bats, including a double and a triple. His triple was great because large guy triples are always fun and because I'm still very mad at Jake Smolinski for pretending Felix hit him with a pitch last week:
Let's just pause my favorite part there shall we?
Cruz is two days away from spending his first month as a Mariner with a +.700 SLG%. He has accrued 38.9% of 2014's offensive value in 20% of the team's games. This is where I remind you he led baseball in home runs last year. What a joy it has been watching him hit the hell out of the ball for three weeks.
It's a good thing those two did their thing because for 8 innings, sans Rickie Weeks solo shot in the 4th, the rest of the team spent the game meandering between just under and just above the minimum expected action level of a professional baseball player. Ross Detwiler, he of the career 13.8% K-rate, struck out 5 in 5.1 IP, all of them left-handed*. The team went 1-6 with RISP and going back to the start of the last homestand are now 19 for their last 93 in such situations, or a .204 BA.
I'd love to sit here and tell you that's going to get better. And I will. Because it will. But it's hard to know that when Logan Morrison works a 2-0 count with runners on 2nd and 3rd, gets an 88 MPH fastball here:
And swings right through it. This is where I remind you that over the course of a season player skill level, like chance, weather, playing surface, etc. is not a static factor. Over the course of the season given that pitch Logan Morrison will probably it hard more often than not. Or at least I will tell that to myself so I can sleep.
*And Mike Zunino
The Fernando Rodney Express Train (yes. doubling down on train references) made jarringly short work of the Rangers in the 9th and was far more of the "my God how does anyone hit this guy ever" side of the uniquely binary Rodney experience:
Sooo, should we talk about Fernando Rodney? Rosales goes down 0-2 and Fernando gives him 96 right across the knees. pic.twitter.com/O2CW2DRAMv— Colin O'Keefe (@colinokeefe) April 29, 2015
After the game Lloyd got so excited he was inhabited by the spirit of Mike Zunino:
- In case you can't tell with all the vines and gifs I'm out of words tonight. I'll leave you with one more, a reminder to make time at 5:05 PST for a few old friends: