Game 74, Red Sox at Mariners

Dave · June 26, 2007 at 6:31 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hernandez vs Gabbard, 7:05 pm.

Happy Felix Day.

I’m going to be honest – this game scares me. Felix owned the Red Sox in his second start of the year, but his stuff hasn’t been the same since. His velocity is down, he’s not getting the same movement on his two-seam fastball or slider, and he hasn’t been able to keep his change-up consistently below the belt. Felix, with less than his best stuff, is most effective when the opposing hitters are willing to swing early in the count, chase pitches out of the zone, and generally focus on putting the ball in play.

That’s not the Red Sox. They have a line-up full of guys who will stare at strikes to get into deeper counts, lay off breaking balls out of the strike zone, and swing for the fences when they expect a fastball. If Felix doesn’t have better command than he usually does, he’s going to fall into a lot of three ball counts, which will let the Red Sox lefty hitters aim for the short porch in right field.

Jeff Weaver, for all the crap we’ve given him, put on a pitch selection clinic last night, throwing curveballs, change-ups, and sliders in almost any count, and mixing the off-speed pitches in with his fastball to keep the hitters off balance. We know from experience that Felix isn’t going to do that for the first 15-20 pitches, which will be overwhelmingly laden with fastballs. If he’s not peppering strikes in the first inning and getting easy groundball outs, it could get bad in a hurry.

As for the offense, Kason Gabbard isn’t anything special, but he’s another one of these guys with a below average fastball that gives the Mariners fits. He’s a lefty, and the M’s hit those better than most, but Hargrove continues to run out asinine line-ups, sticking Jose Vidro (.297/.329/.344 vs LHPs) in the 3-hole and Jose Guillen (.359/.438/.641 vs LHPs) in the 6-hole. For a guy who plays the L/R matchups by the book in making bullpen changes late in the game, Hargrove has no regard at all for platoon splits when setting a line-up, and his suboptimal positioning of the hitters costs the team runs. How hard is it to take the guy who destroys lefties and hit him higher in the order against southpaws, while taking the guy who leads the team in sac bunts and double plays out of the middle of the line-up? Even nine-year-olds with their Playstations have a better understanding of line-up construction than the Mariner manager.

But, I’m going to try not to think about Mike Hargrove, because after all, it’s Felix Day. Here’s to a happy one.


649 Responses to “Game 74, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. Rick L on June 26th, 2007 10:34 pm

    567. Agreed. Also on that homer, Kenji set up low and away, and the ball was over the heart of the plate.

  2. bhsmarine on June 26th, 2007 10:34 pm

    Its all cause of Willie’s called homer earlier!

  3. theraven on June 26th, 2007 10:34 pm

    Wow, I would’ve been pissed if he had called that a strike on a Mariner.

  4. Dave on June 26th, 2007 10:34 pm

    It’s only 1:30 am, msb. But yea, I’m exhausted. This game needs to end soon.

    And enazario, this is why you got the response from me that you did:

    To say that Lopez is predictable is hogwash

    You’re opening comment on the blog called all the work I’ve done on the issue “hogwash”. You’re never going to get anyone to engage you in any civil conversation that way.

  5. enazario on June 26th, 2007 10:34 pm

    So here is another question for someone who wants to point me in the right direction. I haven’t read or heard a satisfactory explanation of why certain players appear to be clutch (I’m not talking about Jeter). By this I mean why are there players that appear to perform better in “clutch” situations in a statistically meaningful way. Feel free to question my assumption.

  6. manholecover on June 26th, 2007 10:35 pm

    who do you think looks like more of a porn star, JJ Putz, or George Sherrill? They both have that look.

  7. IMissBenDavis on June 26th, 2007 10:35 pm


  8. zzyzx on June 26th, 2007 10:36 pm

    True, working my quasi swing shift to avoid 520 traffic (6-2) I forget that. In fact, if I hadn’t taken a long nap this afternoon, I might have turned the game off when we had the big lead.

    One more out guys!

  9. Tak on June 26th, 2007 10:36 pm

    one more!

  10. Slippery Elmer on June 26th, 2007 10:38 pm

    J.J. Putz him away! The Fenway–err, Safeco–crowd goes home disgusted–err, satisfied.

  11. carcinogen on June 26th, 2007 10:38 pm


    Ballgame, hell yeah!!!!!

  12. David* on June 26th, 2007 10:38 pm



  13. moustache de caudill on June 26th, 2007 10:39 pm


  14. planB on June 26th, 2007 10:46 pm

    595: Erm, humans are primates.

  15. Axtell on June 26th, 2007 10:50 pm


    It’s my opinion (and I think I am waaaay in the minority) that you have been unable to come up with a definition of ‘clutch’ because it just doesn’t exist.

    Now there are players who shrivel up and die when it comes to important situations, but, given enough at bats, every player reverts to what they typically do, i.e. Jeter will bat a bit over .300 in both the regular season and the postseason, when he’s supposedly so ‘clutch’.

    The problem is people are so desperate for heroes they remember the key hits, yet conveniently forget the many more failures. They remember player X getting a huge game winning RBI to win a postseason game, but forget the numerous times he grounded into a double play to end a game.

    It’s my feeling that the sample size most people look at when describing ‘clutch’ situations are just far, far too small to come up with any sort of rational explanation. They want to take a 20 or 30 at bat approach and that just cannot be done to come up with solid results. If it really was so easy for these ‘clutch’ hitters to be able to deliver whenever they wanted to, then wouldn’t they be able to bat .400? .500?

    Clutch is a myth.

  16. Axtell on June 26th, 2007 10:52 pm

    Wow, what a way to end the game, striking out the side and Manny to close it out.

    Fantastic game.

  17. msb on June 26th, 2007 10:52 pm

    what are the odds Leyland invites Mutt & Jeff JJ & George to the All Star Game?

    and if he does, does he pitch them about 8 innings so they are rendered useless for the Tigers/Ms series which follows the break?

  18. metz123 on June 26th, 2007 10:55 pm

    What I’m seeing is Felix still throwing 97-98 with his fastball with better command than he had his last 3 starts. He’s getting the curve over effectively, with most batters swinging over the top or just taking the pitch. I only saw him throw the 2 seamer once but it had good movement. The slider isn’t moving at all but it is 8 mph slower than the fastball so it’s a decent change of pace as an occasional pitch. Again he hardly threw any change ups but those he did throw had little movement.

    Anyone with a 98 mph fastball and his curve shouldn’t be getting hit as hard as he is. Any mistake he throws is getting pounded. Even a lot of his good fastballs are getting turned on and hit hard. He’s not working up in the zone at all.

    There’s something more going on here than recovery from injury. Teams are getting too good hacks on his fastball. I hate the tipping his pitches excuse used by every player when going through a rough stretch but I think there’s something going on here. Even when he moved out of the predictable zone, he was getting hacked on. Looking at the game again on TiVo I think his arm angle is different on the fastball than on any breaking pitch.

    There’s something else going on here.

  19. agingfan on June 26th, 2007 10:55 pm

    Well, what can I say? I’m feeling the joy. The Mariners just took two straight from a team that is dominating their division. The Angels and As lost. Felix did not pitch well, and they won anyway. OK, Ibanez and Guillen are not wonderful at the corner outfield slots, but Betancourt, Lopez, and Beltre are better defensively than they have played so far, and will start stealing some hits at some point. Honestly, who thought we would have this recrod on June 26th?

  20. kenshabby on June 26th, 2007 10:56 pm

    Interesting notion msb. Even if JJ & George are rendered useless for that series (of which I’m attending the Saturday game) they’ll still be superior to the god-awful Tigers pen. Todd Jones, for one, shouldn’t be closing games anymore, on any level.

  21. enazario on June 26th, 2007 10:58 pm


    I tend to agree with you that clutch is myth but I can’t help but wonder if some athletes have the ability to elevate their game (unconsciously) at key moments. In other words, they can’t summon an elevation of their abilities at will, but somehow they undergo psychological or physiological changes at key moments which allow them to perform better.

  22. kenshabby on June 26th, 2007 10:59 pm

    #619: I’m not terribly surprised at their record. At the start of the season I predicted that the M’s would have an up-and-down season and finish 85-77, about 5-7 games out of wild card contention. This is another mini-peak, and I still predict they’ll finish with ~85 wins (83-87).

    My start o’ the season prediction was like:
    Angels 95-67
    A’s 90-72
    M’s 85-77
    Rangers 12-150

  23. Mike G. on June 26th, 2007 11:01 pm

    I know there’s been a lot of anti-Niehaus sentiment as his play calling leaves something to be desired. However he still can paint a picture on the radio. I always thought that was his greatest strength.

  24. Axtell on June 26th, 2007 11:08 pm


    No, I don’t believe its possible whatsoever for any athlete to elevate their game like that. Like I said, the times it does happen are what people remember – the many, many other times they do not people forget.

    It’s human condition to want, to need a hero to root for, to spin their consciousness around whatever positive memories they have in order to support that need.

  25. Slippery Elmer on June 26th, 2007 11:11 pm

    I texted the M’s postgame show regarding Felix’s tendency to throw nothing but fastballs early corresponding to his early struggles. We’ll see if I win the $250 watch.

  26. mr.smartypants on June 26th, 2007 11:12 pm

    looks like you whiffed hard on that Ranger’s prediction, Ken, they’re a LOT better than you expected

  27. enazario on June 26th, 2007 11:15 pm

    621: Well maybe I’m a romantic. :-).

  28. Tak on June 26th, 2007 11:17 pm

    I am no expert, but being “clutch” may be overrated but I think it does exist. It is scietifically proven that most people under “pressure” experience change inside their body. That change could be more adrenaline, it could be increased body temperature, or it could be stuff inside your head. Now, it is hard to determine to what extent these changes affect a person’s baseball ability since it probably depends on each individual. Some players may get very excited, making their body pump more blood, and maybe this will increase their reaction speed. Some players may feel too much pressure, get scared of the situation, and are not able to keep their usual swing. Some others may feel completely indifferent. Also, how a certain individual reacts to pressure may differ day to day depending on the person’s condition/situation.

    Now, just because somebody is hitting .500 in “clutch situations” does not necessarily mean this person is a “clutch player”, since this could all be really random. Chances are, that the above changes will only affect a person slightly that its hard to prove clutchness, and clutch situations are so limited it is reach a good sample size to draw any conclusions. A player’s performance is affected by so many factors that it is very hard to isolate the “clutch” factor.

  29. Axtell on June 26th, 2007 11:27 pm

    The problem is most people who call athletes ‘clutch’ do so without having a reasonable sample size in order to compare them to non-clutch situations.

    I hate to keep going back to Jeter (because, quite simply, I think he’s the most overrated player in MLB today), but one need just look at his regular season batting stats vs. his postseason batting stats. You will see nearly identical numbers. This is a valid comparison due to the enormity of sample size of both. Averages state that players will always revert to form.

    Reg. season vs. Postseason BA: .318 vs. .314
    OBP: .390 vs. .384
    OPS: .854 vs. .863

  30. Ninja Jordan on June 26th, 2007 11:27 pm

    Queen Felix gets blown out again. Luckily we won. Is Hargrove’s pitching coach terrible?

  31. Jordan of Boise on June 26th, 2007 11:29 pm

    Hey what position are you guys writing in Willie Bloomquist at for your All-Star Ballots? They don’t have an option for ‘Ignitor.’

  32. Tak on June 26th, 2007 11:33 pm

    Pinch Runner

  33. BKM on June 26th, 2007 11:38 pm

    623. Niehaus isn’t as sharp as he used to be, but no one, even on this website, that’s propelled by criticism mainly for the sake of criticism, could fathom replacing Niehaus with some new faceless talking head. For all his warts, especially now, Niehaus is the voice of the Mariners.

    By the way, pretty “asinine” lineup tonight. 12 hits, scoring in four of the eight innings, six different players driving in runs, six different players scoring runs, including the much-maligned Vidro (2-of-4, 2 runs). Yeah, only eight runs. The lineup really cost us some runs.

  34. enazario on June 26th, 2007 11:43 pm

    I love Niehaus. Until someone of his caliber -or near it- is available to replace him he is still better than any of the alternatives.

  35. Lauren, token chick on June 26th, 2007 11:44 pm

    planB: I’m glad to know you didn’t mean anything derogatory, but I would still suggest you not stroll down the streets of Atlanta, Compton or other stereotypical black neighborhoods calling everyone filthy primates.

  36. geofftoons on June 26th, 2007 11:44 pm

    Something I thought I noticed on the Felix comparison graphs that were posted last week (I think it was last week) was the break in his pitches.

    On the graph from his early game against Boston, I thought I saw that his pitched were breaking 10-12″, and the most recent graph showed that they were only breaking 3-4″. I would have to look again to double check my info. I’m just going off of what I thought I saw at a glance.

    If that is actually the case, what could affect his break so much? Arm angle, arm stregnth? I suppose it could be a million different reasons. Any theories?

  37. enazario on June 26th, 2007 11:45 pm

    629: Yeah Jeter isn’t even worth discussing he is as good (or bad) in the post season as he is in the regular season.

  38. Jordan of Boise on June 26th, 2007 11:55 pm

    BTW, the Sons of Sam Horn game thread is pure win:

    1) (before game) “Anything other than a no-hitter by King Felix tonight will be a success.”
    (as game progresses) “How does a guy with King Felix’s stuff get hit this hard?”
    2) (after WFB’s Funk Blast) “Oh dear God. That’s worse than giving up a HR to the pitcher. ”
    3)(after game) “We should offer Papelbon and Buchholz for Putz”

  39. planB on June 26th, 2007 11:58 pm

    For one thing, Vlad isn’t black. For another, even if I meant gorilla, I didn’t make a comment about all dark-skinned people, I made a comment about Vlad. Look at him! He is an ogre.

    And third, how do you know I’m not black?

  40. colm on June 27th, 2007 12:32 am

    Well, Vlad’s not African American, but I’m pretty sure Nathan Bedford Forrest would never have put his name forward to be Grand Imperial Wizard.

  41. Mike G. on June 27th, 2007 12:36 am

    638- That was some hilarious reading, thank you.

  42. colm on June 27th, 2007 12:37 am

    BKM – just becuase the M’s scored 8 runs off some fairly ropey Red Sox pitching does not jutisfy hitting Vidro third and Guillen sixth. They would have been more likely to score more runs with Guillen hitting higher in the order.

    I once won $200 playing blackjack in Vegas. Does that mean it was a wise investment?

  43. Lauren, token chick on June 27th, 2007 12:43 am

    planB: Far be it from me to say I have absolute knowledge on random people’s ethnicity, but just because Vlad’s from the Dominican Republic doesn’t mean he’s not of African descent.

    Also: How does your race affect the matter?

    Anyway. Enough of this.

  44. Sidi on June 27th, 2007 1:02 am

    I think there certainly is clutch hitting. In high school. And college. Perhaps A or AA league.

    At the high school level a lot of guys will freak out in important situations, and mess up. They won’t be “clutch” because they can’t deal with pressure. At the collge level you will have fewer. By the time you get to the MLB level all the players who have problems with important situations, by and large, will have been weeded out.

  45. Paul B on June 27th, 2007 9:02 am

    “anti-clutch” makes sense. Nerves, worry, pressure cam cause someone to perform poorly.

    Anyone that has ever done public speaking has probably encountered that.

    But, clutch, in the sense that a player can somehow magically elevate their performance in key situations? Doesn’t happen. Can’t happen, unless the player dogs it in non-key situations.

  46. joser on June 27th, 2007 10:17 am

    Well, there are two people involved in every pitching matchup: the batter and the pitcher. If the pitcher is “anti-clutch” (aka “chokes”) against certain batters (or certain kinds of batters) it’s going to make those batters look better. But unless you see that matchup a lot, that’s going to show up in the pitcher’s stats, not the batter’s.

    There are other factors, depending on how you define “clutch.” If it’s just BA/RISP, almost all batters look “clutch” because those baserunners got there somehow, and that typically means the batter is facing a bad pitcher, or a pitcher who’s having a bad day, or is front of a shaky defense, or something, and whatever that is it generally works in the batter’s favor. On TV you often will see a stat showing a batter’s (higher) BAwRISP vs his normal BA, but what you won’t see is how that compares to all batters’ stats: most batters have a higher BA/RISP vs normal BA. And so a batter with a high regular average, like Jeter, is going to have an even higher BA/RISP, and that’s going to look “clutch” because you’re unconsciously comparing it to the ordinary BA of an ordinary batter. Add to that selective memory (Jeter might be “Mr. November” because of one key hit and “the flip” defense, but he actually wasn’t a very good hitter overall in that 2001 postseason) and it’s easy to fool yourself.

    There are other ways to define “clutch” of course, “close and late” being one of the other popular ones. There’s been a lot of research done on this, especially in the past two or three years. See The Book by Tango (et al) for more. It’s possible that clutch really describes a talent possessed by certain players, but if it exists it is small.

    On the other hand, it’s certainly true that clutch situations exist, and that certain players may find themselves in those situations more often than others, and that they may deliver in those situations (or not). So as a descriptive record, rather than a predictable talent, it’s possible to talk about players’ records of hitting in clutch situations. You can see this over at Fangraphs, (see the glossary for their definition of “clutchiness”).

  47. Birdie Double on June 27th, 2007 11:08 am

    How much of the pitch selection problem is Johjima? I don’t see Felix shaking off a lot of pitches.

  48. joser on June 27th, 2007 12:03 pm

    Birdie, you’re in the wrong thread. And that’s been addressed. He did the same thing with Burke. And you are aware that most pitchers talk to their catchers before the game, and often establish how they’re going to handle the first few hitters so the catcher is going to call what the pitcher wants? Not to mention that if a pitcher has a very strong idea about how he starts games (or if the coaching staff has a “philosophy” that they want to see followed) the catcher’s hands are tied.

  49. mutpup on July 19th, 2007 9:39 pm

    I don’t think it’s Johjima at all.

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