Game One Thoughts

Dave · April 6, 2009 at 8:32 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Always good to start with a win. Here are some thoughts from the season opener.

The Twins offense isn’t very good, especially without Joe Mauer. Felix pitched well tonight, but I thought he got away with quite a bit too.

I really liked Gutierrez’s approach at the plate in his first two at-bats, but the swings they ended on were meager. It was nice to see him get some loft on the home run swing. I’m pretty sure he’s going to to be the guy I’m begging the world to notice this year. He’s got underrated asset written all over him.

Beltre is so good defensively – that backhand play he made down the line was sick. I’d personally chip in towards his contract extension if we could convince him to stick around.

Griffey going yard just seemed fitting. In the spirit of positivity, I won’t say anything about his range on that Punto fly ball.

The M’s aren’t going to score 75% of their baserunners this year. You’ll hear someone refer to this as the blueprint for how the M’s will have to win games, I’m sure, but counting on getting six runs out of eight base runners isn’t any kind of successful strategy.

1-0, tied for first atop the AL West. Bedard goes tomorrow. So far so good.

Comments

56 Responses to “Game One Thoughts”

  1. DAMellen on April 6th, 2009 8:35 pm

    You say Felix pitched well, but you leave out some extremely important information. Exactly how well did he mix his pitches?

  2. Dave on April 6th, 2009 8:41 pm

    He was still Felix – 10 of his first 11 pitches were fastballs (which, of course, he couldn’t command), and about 2/3 of his total pitches were fastballs. Nothing looked like it had changed. Same strengths, same weaknesses.

  3. SonOfZavaras on April 6th, 2009 8:42 pm

    I generally agree with your assessment, Dave- but there’s a converse side to it. I’m encouraged that this year’s Felix didn’t start out trying to dominate everyone and get 20 strikeouts in a game.

    You also have to be pleased with how he buckled down and got tough outs when he needed them.

    He looked like he was pitching, as opposed to throwing. To me, he looked as though he wasn’t falling into extremely predictable pitch-patterns, either.

    And I’m gonna love Gutierrez as a CF, I think. Dude’s got some GPS out there, and some wheels to match.

  4. CC03 on April 6th, 2009 8:46 pm

    While the M’s won’t score 75% of their baserunners all year(obv.), lets remember they were facing Liriano, and putting 4 runs up on Liriano isn’t exactly easy.

  5. SonOfZavaras on April 6th, 2009 8:50 pm

    Incidentally, did anyone else feel the need to regurgitate something when they heard Blowers, Krueger et al. talk about how good Griffey is against left-handed pitching?

    Way to use those eight-year-old scouting reports, guys. One home run against a lefty who threw a mistake in the zone, all it is.

    If he gets 100 ABs against left-handers this year, we’re gonna want to cry.

  6. TomTuttle on April 6th, 2009 8:54 pm

    Won’t lose 100 this year :)

    (knock on wood)

  7. ThundaPC on April 6th, 2009 9:00 pm

    Not a bad game for being Ichiro-less.

    I liked what I saw. Good to get a 6-1 victory even though it was probably more like a 2-1 or 3-1 win. Didn’t really get too much insight on Wakamatsu’s management strategy but having Balentien pinch-run for Griffey was nice, if nothing special, and having Morrow up with a save situation and Batista up in a non-save situation shows promise. Not a real big deal but it saves Morrow for another day while getting Batista some work.

    Good win with some Opening Day magic.

  8. patnmic on April 6th, 2009 9:11 pm

    I loved watching real baseball again. Felix and Beltre can just make you smile. Hope springs eternal. On the flip side 2 walks, Yuni looked the same at the plate, Griffey looked to be favoring a knee already and Sweeney looked like our starting DH from last year (also referred to as a professional hitter by the TV guys).

  9. Five Number Ones on April 6th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Seeing Balentien in there for the final innning was a welcome sight, too. How many times did we have to see Ibanez left out there, with his “accurate” arm and his inanimate legs?

  10. ppl on April 6th, 2009 10:05 pm

    after last year, this seemed way sweet.

  11. smatbte51 on April 6th, 2009 10:06 pm

    Dave, what did you think of Batista? It would be awesome to see him start off strong and mabye Z could trade him for a decent prospect. One can always hope.

  12. Zobmie on April 6th, 2009 10:26 pm

    I have to mentioned how gleeful I became watching Endy Chavez range way over into foul territory after a fly ball early in the game. I didn’t know I’d become so use to lack of range in the outfield after the past few seasons watching Ibanez out there. Endy didn’t quite make the catch, but I applauded him anyway. I look forward to seeing him track down more of those balls this year.

  13. Catherwood on April 6th, 2009 10:37 pm

    Dave sez:

    He was still Felix – 10 of his first 11 pitches were fastballs (which, of course, he couldn’t command), and about 2/3 of his total pitches were fastballs…

    I can’t disagree, but I think it was telling that he got a lot of his strikeouts and weak groundouts on breaking balls, some of which were just filthy.

    Sure, he threw a lot of fastballs, but it seemed like he was trying to get to a 2-2 or 1-2 count and then throw the nasty, uh, stuff. Yeah, it’s one game, and all, but do you really WANT him throwing forkballs and scroogies and stuff in the first game? I think he should have thrown not much else but fastballs, a few sliders, a curve and a changeup or two. It’s the first game, the M’s aren’t going anywhere, he needs to get his feet under him.

  14. DAMellen on April 6th, 2009 11:12 pm

    Well that’s really a shame. I’d love to see a pitch mixing Felix in action. It really seems like an obvious fix. In other news, Griffey was considerably slower in the outfield than I ever could have imagined. I mean, I new he’d be bad, but oh my god.

  15. Breadbaker on April 6th, 2009 11:13 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1. Last year, McLaren put in Putz in game one in a ‘save’ situation, with a three run lead when whoever (Morrow? Green?) had pitched the eighth was just cruising. Next day, Putz blows a save and then goes on the DL. I’m not saying cause and effect, but I don’t get the idea of using the closer in game one with a three run lead, even if MLB defines that as a save, because tomorrow you may need him in a higher-leverage situation. So I was cheering for them to score the run to sit Morrow down, but I’d have been more impressed if Morrow hadn’t gotten up at all.

    2. When they showed the list of the five guys with the most Opening Day homers (Junior now tied with F Robby for number one all-time), it took me awhile to realize Junior had now been in 21 Opening Days, which is to say, among the all-time leaders in Opening Day starts, too. Nonetheless, he’s in good company there. Bill James’s wife used to say that you’d learn which were the good and the bad stats by seeing who was up there, and when you’re there with Robinson, Aaron and the Babe, that’s a good stat. It’s a bit of a freak show stat, for sure, but it’s not like being tied with Tuffy Rhodes or something.

  16. BLYKMYK44 on April 6th, 2009 11:18 pm

    Is the preference that if they are going to pinch run for Griffey (like in the 8th inning) they should’ve also pinch hit for him against the lefty?

    Count me as someone who is happy that Junior is back in a Mariners uniform. However, I can definately see the pressure Wakamatsu is going to face in late inning situtation where the game really is on the line. I just can’t seem him pinch hitting for Junior…is that a bad thing for the team?

  17. Typical Idiot Fan on April 6th, 2009 11:36 pm

    My thoughts:

    I liked the behind the pitcher camera. You really get to see those pitches move more that way.

    The umpire got fooled on a bunch of Felix’s pitches. I counted a lot of strikes he wasn’t getting on that inside slider he was throwing to the lefties.

    Chavez and Gutierrez confuse me as to why they don’t draw more walks. They look like they’re selective with their pitches enough that they should have a few more free passes. Chavez’s problem is wanting to put the ball in play too much; hitting the ball on the ground and legging it out. Gutierrez… I don’t know what his problem is.

    Russel Branyan should never hit against a lefty. He looked horrible against Liriano.

    I couldn’t tell how Betancourt was playing. Seemed like he only got one ball hit in his direction.

    Sweeney does not look good at all at the plate.

    Beltre’s awesome. Slick glove work and two well stroked line drives. Only one went for a hit, as usual, thanks to Danard Span.

    Speaking of Span, I want him. God I want him. He makes left field look tiny. Don’t get me wrong, Endy Chavez was hustling around left completely making me forget Raul Ibanez was ever there, but Span’s range is absurd.

    When Griffey swung the bat for his home run I just started laughing the moment it was stroked. I knew it was gone, and I just kept laughing. I don’t think I realized how much I missed that stroke until just that moment. Griffey’s going to be my love-hate interest this season, I just know it.

    Batista looked good, and I mean really good. He was spotting his fastball really well. I’m not sure what to think of the variance in speed (87mph to 92mph), but he sure didn’t pitch that well last season.

    Ichiro’s jersey hung in the clubhouse = cool.

    Gutierrez and Chavez gliding around in left and center is just so peaceful.

    Good win for the team. Bring on The Interview!

  18. wabbles on April 7th, 2009 12:19 am

    HA! HA! No longer is EVERYONE 0-0! We’re one of only TWELVE teams that’s 1-0! But seriously folks, it was a nice start to what can only be a better season.

  19. ppl on April 7th, 2009 1:17 am

    Denard Span should have been on team USA in the WBC.

  20. wabbles on April 7th, 2009 2:07 am

    RE Batista: I remember one of the authors saying that he might actually look better this year either because A) Last year’s suckitude was due to some now-revealed injury that had healed or B) He wasn’t THAT bad and would regress to the mean from 2008.

  21. louder on April 7th, 2009 6:29 am

    I don’t understand the criticism of Hernandez pitch selection, if your fastball is working, and the other team can’t touch it, keep using it! Just trying to have a “mix of pitches” so it looks good on paper, doesn’t work for me. Go with what’s working good for you. Anyway, taking Griffey out of the mix, the outfield defense looks better, of course, Ibanez was a statue out there, but it is nice to see some good defense. It would be nice if the Mariners can get to .500 this year (wishful think still alive here).

  22. clandon on April 7th, 2009 7:02 am

    I mostly agree with Dave – however, in the interest of being a little bit more balanced, I have to contest two of Dave’s points. First, with Felix and his “command” issues – he did start a ridiculous amount of hitters off with first pitch strikes (I counted at least 20). He was jittery in the first, but seemed to find the zone after he rolled his ankle. Second, Beltre is obviously a fine defensive 3b, but he did get swallowed up by a hard grounder in the middle of the game which should have been an error (Kubel’s hit, I think). If you are going to criticize Griffey’s D on the Punto fly, you have to apply the same critical eye to Beltre’s lapse.

  23. Soonerman22 on April 7th, 2009 7:03 am

    Coming from the biggest Griffey fan in the world…

    I was kind of irritated that after the game the story line they kept pressing was “Griffey hit a home run.”

    Yeah? And so did Gutierrez. Felix whether he got away with pitches or not pitched 8 innings, 1 run on 5 hits. (That’s not bad against anyone!!!). I enjoyed watching them move there runners over and getting them in.

    It is only 1 of 162 games, but it is great to watch Mariner baseball again!!!

  24. sass on April 7th, 2009 7:20 am

    I noticed the same thing about Griffey being the story line…that will go away soon as people get used to him being on the team again.

    Gutierrez is a tremendous ray of hope. I’ve been praying that he has a breakout season this year from the dish…it was a good start.

    No one’s mentioned the awesomeness that is Gameday Advanced yet? Or was that already happening last year and missed it? There is some seriously sweet info in that pretty box.

    As for Felix, I’m starting to lose hope that he’ll start throwing junk throughout the whole game. He went to his breaking stuff late, and dominated. I was thinking he might only go 6 or 7 innings after the 4th or so, but he started making hitters look silly after that. Why is this such a difficult thing for people to understand? Is the “establish the fastball” mantra that entrenched in baseball coaching?

    Overall, exciting game. Can’t wait until tomorrow when we have a half-decent right fielder out there instead of an octagenarian (great homer though!), and I really can’t wait for Ichiro to come back.

  25. louder on April 7th, 2009 7:52 am

    As for Felix, I’m starting to lose hope that he’ll start throwing junk throughout the whole game. He went to his breaking stuff late, and dominated. I was thinking he might only go 6 or 7 innings after the 4th or so, but he started making hitters look silly after that. Why is this such a difficult thing for people to understand? Is the “establish the fastball” mantra that entrenched in baseball coaching?

    All I’m saying is that Felix had such great stuff last night, why would he want to waste time early in the game trying to establish the breaking ball? He did it right (at least to my mind), go with the good, hard stuff first two times through the line-up; third time through, work the breaking ball. That is a classic pitching pattern, almost pitching 101, IMHO.

  26. Dave on April 7th, 2009 8:01 am

    Right – classic patterns are bad, because hitters know what’s coming.

    You can’t judge process by the results.

  27. Zero Gravitas on April 7th, 2009 8:04 am

    I also noticed that Felix threw curveballs for some of his strikeouts and at least once I saw him walk someone on a missed curveball. I thought that showed a lot of confidence in the pitch. Also loved watching his ground/fly ratio throughout the game on the box score. That made me feel very comfortable about how things were going even when I couldn’t see the action!

  28. Utah911 on April 7th, 2009 8:25 am

    No one ever accused you of being an optimist, Dave, but you are correct on this post. Yuniesky needs a spanking!! That at bat where he hit into the double play was horrible.

  29. BoiseMoose on April 7th, 2009 8:30 am

    Griffey always seems to have that ability to come through with the headline stealing hit. I know clutch hitting is largely a fallacy, but Griffey’s HR took away the attention from his other ABs that didn’t look impressive at all.

    Also, seeing Junior go yard in the Baggie Dome always reminds me of that awful movie “Little Big League.” I was waiting for Griffey to steal all three bases, rob a homer, and finish off the game with the Unit coming in for the save.

  30. louder on April 7th, 2009 8:31 am

    Right – classic patterns are bad, because hitters know what’s coming.

    You can’t judge process by the results.

    We’ll just have to disagree on this one… Hernandez did pitch well last night, and he’s just turning 23, but a little more intelligent pitching will never hurt anyone.

  31. finndawg on April 7th, 2009 8:34 am

    I’m a little confused as to why a number of people are finding things to complain about: Felix’s pitching mix, Griffey in the field, etc. Can’t we just appreciate a WIN in a place that we have previously gone 4 – 14? And beating one of the best pitchers in the AL, against a team that a number of people have winning the AL Central? Really – aren’t we having to search for stuff to complain about?? Pretty sad…God forbid we actually start winning and playing well, what we’ll we complain about them???

  32. Jordan 'JWay' Gillis on April 7th, 2009 8:39 am

    The Mariners looked good.

  33. Phoenician Todd on April 7th, 2009 8:39 am

    Objective observations about the game aren’t complaining. The fact that Felix is still trying to establish the fastball points to a strategy that hasn’t changed, even with the new leadership. Griffey looking horrible in the field was just a realization of his potential. Though I had to laugh when Dave S said that he could still get after it in the outfield.

  34. Dave on April 7th, 2009 8:40 am

    Sigh… here we go again.

    If you’re new to the site, welcome. Try reading for a while before you start commenting. It will help you out a lot.

  35. joealb1 on April 7th, 2009 8:41 am

    I don’t see any complaining here. What I read in this post is analysis. Good analysis at that.

  36. joealb1 on April 7th, 2009 8:42 am

    Dave, you beat me to it.

  37. 2outsbottomofthe9th on April 7th, 2009 8:57 am

    On the whole I was happy about last night (Actually, I probably could have cried out of sheer joy). The one glaring thing though, in my mind, was Mike Sweeney. I understand the reasoning for keeping him with the big club that Dave mentioned in a prior post, and as much as I’d rather see Shelton I can’t disagree with the decision. That being said, he looked confused up there. He looked foolish on more than one swing and I realize he was facing Liriano but that arguement isn’t enough for me. I know it’s only the first game (that arguement isn’t enough for me either) and it’s easy to critique a guy about his approach…Especially since I couldn’t hit a pitch form Liriano if he threw it underhand, but I guess it’s just an early observation.

  38. ewdewald on April 7th, 2009 9:06 am

    Between Gutierrez, Chavez, Span, and Gomez all on turf, that was the fastest outfielded game I’ve ever seen! Span and Chavez were especially flying.

  39. Paul B on April 7th, 2009 9:19 am

    Here’s something funny. For his career, Sweeney has a slight reverse platoon (.865 OPS versus righties, .836 OPS versus lefties).

    Of course, to get playing time, he doesn’t have to have a normal split, all he has to do is hit better against lefties than Branyan or Griffey.

    And Branyan’s OPS against lefties is .731. And Griffey’s OPS against lefties last season was .649.

    Sweeney didn’t look horrible in spring training, I’d resist calling him through after seeing him struggle in one game.

  40. louder on April 7th, 2009 9:25 am

    Hey! Beer shower for Wakamatsu after the game. Now, I love this, the first real sign of life in the clubhouse in at least two years. Griffey might have lost a ton on the playing field, but it’s great to see him bringing some fun back with the Mariners.

  41. Evan on April 7th, 2009 9:30 am

    Winning isn’t always the result of playing well. Playing well does tend to produce wins, but just because we won doesn’t mean the things we did in that game will generally lead to winning.

    We won. But we can play better.

    It was nice, though, to get a win with one of our best players on the DL.

  42. 2outsbottomofthe9th on April 7th, 2009 9:36 am

    Agreed Paul. I believe him to be a better viable option versus lefties than Junior or Branyan, but I guess that’s not saying a whole lot. It was just a tough watch with him at the plate that’s all.

    I haven’t consumed enough coffee yet to say anything nice about Branyan. I am going to envoke my, “It’s only the first game” right, which I hate doing, and pray for better things.

  43. scharmers on April 7th, 2009 9:45 am

    Great win, loved the Griffey HR, Gutierrez showing some pop, and Beltre holding his gold glove in the air for everyone to see.

    The downside, of course, is Griffey’s reenactment of Ibanez, only in right field. But as the main post stated, we’ll overlook that for now.

  44. Jeff Nye on April 7th, 2009 10:02 am

    Also, brief moderation note:

    If you notice that your comments are not showing up right away, please do not continue to simply make the same comment over and over again!

    Per the comment guidelines:
    “…a USSM author has to come by, see that you have a comment in the queue, and wave it on into production. Obviously, this is unlikely to happen quickly.”

    This is particularly true for first-time posters or those who are from sites where we’ve had “trouble” in the past.

    Questions? Email the authors at the email address linked over on the left side. Don’t discuss it in this thread, but I thought it merited a reminder.

  45. Graham on April 7th, 2009 10:32 am

    Beltre is obviously a fine defensive 3b, but he did get swallowed up by a hard grounder in the middle of the game which should have been an error (Kubel’s hit, I think).

    That was in the ninth inning, and you weren’t watching it closely enough. The ball came off the turf on a hop at least three times as high as anyone should reasonably have expected.

  46. Jordan 'JWay' Gillis on April 7th, 2009 10:50 am

    And it was Crede, and that helped me in fantasy, so yay for the hit! ;)

  47. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on April 7th, 2009 10:54 am

    The downside, of course, is Griffey’s reenactment of Ibanez, only in right field.

    Well, thankfully we (knock on wood) won’t have to get used to seeing this once Ichiro is back. What I liked were the smarter at-bats and run producing in Ichiro’s absence. Like you said Dave, not that we can expect that 75 percent, but it’s an encouraging sign without your top threat.
    Overall, nice start to the season!
    If you win the first one, you can’t lose ‘em all!!

  48. rlharr on April 7th, 2009 10:54 am

    Without looking through his career stats, I think Griffey’s home run was his 399 as a Mariner. Even if I’m off by a couple, sometime early this year Griffey will become the first player to hit 400 home runs as a Mariner. It is likely to be a very long time before anyone beats that – there’s noone in the organization today who appears likely to do it.

    Go Griffey.

  49. TrevorB on April 7th, 2009 11:01 am

    Just out of curiosity, roughly what percentage of baserunners can a league average offense expect to score?

    What percentage of baserunners should we be expecting the M’s to score this season?

    Thanks.

  50. scharmers on April 7th, 2009 11:03 am

    That was in the ninth inning, and you weren’t watching it closely enough. The ball came off the turf on a hop at least three times as high as anyone should reasonably have expected.

    That comes from playing on grass all Spring, and then having to field on that dirty turf. I can’t remember the name of the Twinkies’ left fielder, but I pointed out to my wife that he wouldn’t have slid like 90 meters into the bullpen had he been playing on grass.

  51. Paul B on April 7th, 2009 11:04 am

    Without looking through his career stats, I think Griffey’s home run was his 399 as a Mariner.

    Yes, he had 398 before this season.

    You can find it here. About halfway down the page.

  52. ewdewald on April 7th, 2009 11:18 am

    Just out of curiosity, roughly what percentage of baserunners can a league average offense expect to score?

    2008 AL:
    10844 R / (20901 H + 7521 BB + 816 HBP) = about 37% of baserunners scored or 2.69 baserunners for every run.

  53. Breadbaker on April 7th, 2009 12:16 pm

    Of course, perhaps Felix assumes the Twins read USSM, have read the points about his pitches and figures they think they know what’s coming and is just playing some good headgames with them. Kind of like Tom Berenger in “Major League”, “Gosh, all these pitches to choose from . . . .”

  54. Breadbaker on April 7th, 2009 12:16 pm

    [double post]

  55. Breadbaker on April 7th, 2009 12:16 pm

    [triple post]

  56. indoknowsbest on April 7th, 2009 2:55 pm

    They should move Lopez to 1B, Betancourt to 2B and put Cedeno at SS. With Griffey as DH instead of Sweeney. That outfield full-time + Ichiro is going to be something else.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.