What a weird, weird opening week, right guys?
Two rain outs, one with no actual rain, a day-night double header, the first on in Oakland in something like 40 years, an extra inning walk-off and a blown save. I mean, it ran the gamut this week from odd to unheard-of.
Today, we faced off with Felix Hernandez, who has apparently now won 10 straight games at the Oakland Coliseum. 10 straight…that’s some bullshit right there. That needs to change ASAP, and I’m calling it right here and now: King Felix will LOSE his next game at the Coliseum. Depending on the schedule from here on out, that will either be in May, or in September. I’m also going to make another prediction here today: the Mariners will be around a .500 team this year. They’re going to deal with injuries all year, Corey Hart, their pitching, etc. But, they will not be pushovers. I really only see that happening with the Astros. The Angels, likewise, will be fairly decent this year. But, I still call for both the Mariners and the Angels to hit the .500 mark, or thereabouts…and each for the opposite reason: the Angels because of their offense, and the Mariners because of their pitching. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mariners OVER the Angels in the standings this year.
So, back to today…
The Good: Straily, for the first time for *me* looked like he could be a really, really effective pitcher. He was DEALING in those first four innings. His fastball had so much break away from left handed hitters, they didn’t stand a chance. If, and it’s a big IF, Dan Straily can figure out how to pitch *down in the zone* consistently, he could be a really, really solid pitcher. I still don’t see the secondary stuff, yet, to be a full-blown ace…but I saw it today, guys. He can be dominant. Finally, I see Straily’s potential. 7 strikeouts in four innings. One more, I believe, than Hernandez had at that point. I also want to give a shout out to B-Moss…dude was 2-4 today. Yes, one was a gimme pop-up that got lost in the sun, but that was still contact. Not to mention that his hit up the middle in the 9th inning was excellent contact and approach. Moss *could* have even been 3-4 if he’d stuck with his approach to bunt the ball up the 3rd base line in the 2nd inning after missing the first pitch for strike 1. They didn’t move up! The option was still there, and it was a fastball right down the middle! Honestly, I think he should work on that play A LOT more. Anyone with the overshift on them to that degree should work on that play. Moss already has one single by doing it.
The Bad: Again, we have to start of with Straily; yes, pitching 6 innings and giving up 3 runs is *technically* a “quality start.” But, given how truly dominant Straily had been up to that point in the 5th inning, what happened next (double, fly out, home run, home run, double) is 100% absolutely disappointing. And, for me, again it comes down to being up in the zone. Straily hits 89-91 pretty consistently with his fastball. He could throw it harder, I’m sure, but then you lose the movement, and that’s where he’s getting swings and misses, or weak contact. But, BUT…if you’re throwing up in the zone at 89-91, and your fastball doesn’t have late movement…you’re going to get crushed. And, that’s what happened to Straily in the 5th inning. His pitches straightened out for about 10 minutes, and because he was up in the zone, they got crushed. And, that was the difference in the game. We also have to talk about our hitters pitch selection today against Felix. It was awful. Flat-out terrible. We were taking straight fastballs right down the middle, and then swinging at his pitches in the dirt. I’m not sure if the weird schedule of the week has anything to do with it, but I guarantee you pretty much all those guys in the clubhouse this afternoon would cop to the fact that they were guessing at pitches. Sure, Felix has great stuff, but if an ace is ON in a day, the only way to give yourself a chance to win is to run up that pitch count by grinding out at-bats, knock them out of the game, and then pounce on the bullpen. We didn’t do that, and we lost.
All in all, it was nice to see us break out in the 9th to avoid the shutout. I wouldn’t necessarily say that we gain any momentum from that, since we then left B-Moss hang out to dry at second base with nobody out…still. The Mariners are absolutely very beatable, still, after you get past King Felix. Our offense, without a doubt, needs to do some extra focusing.
Oh, and here’s something to chew on: is it just me, or does Donaldson look kind of pissed off out there lately? Barking at Felix, who thought JD was staring him down, barking at Barton on the hit off the wall earlier in the week…even in interviews, he looks tense. Not as loose and jokey. Maybe I’m just reading too much into things, but the whole team seems a little out of whack, Bo-Mel included. I don’t know what it is, the weird schedule is likely the culprit, and they’re just looking forward to getting into a groove. On the flip side of that, however, for me is Cespedes. He looks much more relaxed at the plate than he did during spring training. I hope that pays dividends.
That’s all for today. Let’s beat ’em tomorrow in the rubber match.