Game Five Recap

Dave · April 5, 2011 at 8:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Welcome to the show, Michael Pineda. In reality, it would have been tough for that start to get much better. Besides the one mistake pitch to Moreland that resulted in a triple, he was dominant for the first four innings, throwing strikes with all three pitches and rolling through a good Rangers line-up. It was pretty easy to see why he’s so highly thought of, as he flashed good command of top shelf stuff. There aren’t many guys his size with that kind of repertoire who can throw strikes with regularity – it’s a special combination.

The right-handed hitters in the Rangers’ line-up looked overmatched for most of the game. On the night, Texas’ RHBs went 2 for 17 with a walk and three strikeouts. The left-handed bats, though, were 3-7 with three extra base hits. This is what we’ve been talking about with Pineda; the change-up just isn’t good enough to get lefties out regularly yet, and so he’s probably going to post a pretty big platoon split this year.

That’s okay, as long as he keeps working on it. He doesn’t have to be perfect yet. He’s 22 – warts are allowed. It was great to see him getting good right-handed hitters out tonight. For him to take the leap and be a true frontline starter, he’s going to have to get lefties out too. He wasn’t great at that tonight, but it’s just his first start, and there was no reason to expect him to be great at it tonight.

I was somewhat surprised at the decision to let Pineda pitch to Josh Hamilton in the sixth inning, however. After Andrus bunted Kinsler to second base, Hamilton came up with one out and first base open. Following him were Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz, all right-handed batters. It was a 1-0 game, and a base hit would double the Rangers lead. Josh Hamilton won the AL MVP last year. Walking him would set up a potential inning ending double play. Pineda had dispatched Beltre easily in his last trip to the plate. There were a host of reasons to put Hamilton on base, but Wedge chose to let the kid go after him.

I’m sure there will be some comments about how it was good for the kid’s confidence to give him a chance there, but I’d have had Felix walk Hamilton in that situation too. There’s room for showing Pineda that you believe in him, but there’s also just a time for sound logic and good strategy. Walking Hamilton in that situation would have been the latter.

Overall though, a very nice debut for Pineda. Again, the M’s lose but there are encouraging things to take away – Michael Saunders getting a base hit off of Darren Oliver (one of the toughest LHPs in baseball) was nice to see as well, and there’s not much shame in losing to the Rangers by a run.

There were some frustrating things (Chone Figgins, I’m looking at you), but for now, we’ll stay mostly focused on the positive. Pineda’s debut offered a nice glimpse into what the future could be. It’s not here yet, but it’s not too far off.

Comments

20 Responses to “Game Five Recap”

  1. unkrusty on April 5th, 2011 8:25 pm

    Man, Figgins has GOT to get it together if this offense is even going to be watchable.

  2. Cody on April 5th, 2011 8:30 pm

    Cleanup hitter is 2-16 (.125) with no xbh

  3. Chipanese on April 5th, 2011 8:38 pm

    I’m just happy Bradley is hitting the ball hard. Same with Jack. Trade bait?

  4. Westside guy on April 5th, 2011 8:40 pm

    The season is early yet, but so far this year I haven’t felt the despair that was so common last year. You know, like when Saunders came up in the ninth with us down by a run. I knew the odds were against him, but still – last year I would’ve turned the TV off before that point, because I was 100% certain we had no chance.

    We’re not a great team, but we’re definitely watchable. For the moment, that’s good enough for me.

    Excepting that one fly ball Saunders totally blew earlier in the game – that was painful. I like Saunders, but I want Guti back in center where he belongs.

    Oh, and Cody – Jack Cust’s OBP is currently .353 even though he’s now 2 for 17. So no, he’s not hitting at the moment – but he’s making fewer outs than Jose Lopez did in his best season.

  5. PackBob on April 5th, 2011 8:50 pm

    Add to the plus side that the Mariners have seen 179 more pitches and have had 8 more walks than the opposition. If the Mariners can score a few runs and get a win with Felix up tomorrow, they would finish the first two series 3-3 against the two teams thought to be the contenders for the west.

    After demolishing Boston pitching, the Rangers are at 4.5 runs per game against the Mariners and the Mariners have been in both games. All in all, with what Dave mentioned, a pretty decent start to the season.

  6. SpokaneMsFan on April 5th, 2011 9:00 pm

    That was encouraging! Saunders definitely could have caught that mistake to Moreland Dave mentioned too. Still a bad pitch but I think Guti would have gotten it, then who knows how the game goes. Felix day coming up woo hoo!

  7. gwangung on April 5th, 2011 9:12 pm

    Well, it’s still coulda/shoulda/woulda….but it’s wayyyyy better noway/nohow/nowhen….

  8. nel98029 on April 5th, 2011 9:33 pm

    It’s so nice have hope late in games. Hope is good enough for me at this point. I also hope Guti gets his stomach thing figured out soon.

  9. MrZDevotee on April 5th, 2011 10:19 pm

    RE: Guty-
    Heard Shannon Drayer today say that Guty is feeling a LOT better and expected to play in a couple of minor league games in Arizona this weekend… If that goes well he could rejoin the team next week.

  10. fountaindale on April 5th, 2011 10:20 pm

    Dave, you are simply the best baseball writer out there right now. I feel lucky that you still cover the M’s. Thanks.

  11. Chris_From_Bothell on April 5th, 2011 10:24 pm

    gwangung has the right attitude, but I’m having a hard time being patient with Saunders. Perhaps center field is asking a bit much of him.

    If Guti has a setback, couldn’t an outfield of Saunders in left, Ichiro in center and Bradley in right be sustainable for a while, with Langerhans spotting Bradley if Milton needs to rest his legs via DHing or sitting out?

  12. okinawadave on April 5th, 2011 10:52 pm

    Add to the plus side that the Mariners have seen 179 more pitches and have had 8 more walks than the opposition.

    They’ve also lost three games in away stadiums, so they’ve avoided pitching to the opposition for three innings.

  13. just a fan on April 5th, 2011 11:08 pm

    There’s room for showing Pineda that you believe in him, but there’s also just a time for sound logic and good strategy. Walking Hamilton in that situation would have been the latter.

    The most important aspects of this season are allegedly the development of Smoak, Ackley and Pineda. So, if the win total isn’t that important, Michael Pineda should pitch against as many good or great left handed hitters as he can. He should never intentionally walk a lefty like Hamilton, even in the most obvious situations. That’s his primary weakness, and he needs to learn how to overcome it. He’s got great potential, and Felix can help him through any setbacks it causes.

    If the Mariners are very unlikely to even contend for the playoffs (especially the way Texas has started), they might as well let Michael Pineda learn how to get out left-handed sluggers like Josh Hamilton as soon as possible.

  14. make_dave_proud on April 5th, 2011 11:48 pm

    Great perspective, Dave. Pineda certainly shows more than just “promise” which is all anyone has been tagged with since…well, Felix. Given how hot the Ranger hitters have been out of the gate, I’d say his performance far exceeds expectations.

  15. Westside guy on April 6th, 2011 12:00 am

    If Guti has a setback, couldn’t an outfield of Saunders in left, Ichiro in center and Bradley in right be sustainable for a while, with Langerhans spotting Bradley if Milton needs to rest his legs via DHing or sitting out?

    I take it you saw Saunders bad play today, but you didn’t see Ichiro’s drop yesterday?

    If we’re going to do the small-sample-size thing, let’s at least be even-handed about it. ;-)

    (Actually I just wanted an excuse to link to Jeff’s great photo caption!)

  16. Westside guy on April 6th, 2011 12:05 am

    Ugh, sorry about the dupe…

  17. Chris_From_Bothell on April 6th, 2011 12:59 am

    Just wondering if perhaps there is a better outfield alignment that would not only have the best fielder covering the most ground, but also set Saunders up to succeed by letting him focus on his hitting with a less demanding field position. I’m not proclaiming him a lost cause… just concerned.

    Small sample size, yes, yes. Why is it ok to be cautiously optimistic based on one starting pitching performance, yet not ok to be… cautiously pessimistic? is there such a thing? sure. … based on the first few games? Small sample size seems to be a flexible term.

  18. jjracoon on April 6th, 2011 6:27 am

    I didnt understand why Saunders was given such high praise for his defense last year. Other than good speed, I didnt see the route to the ball and positioning that I attribute to top fielding outfielders. He also looks uncomfortable when taking balls that hit the ground. That said he needs to be able to contribute a lot more with the bat or Bradley will remain out in left for the year.

    Mr Cust may have a good on base percentage BUT he was added to team to provide some power. Near the end of Edgars and Oleruds careers they were still putting up excellent OBP but when you walk a lot in crucial RBI positions in the line up then you just arent bringing in the runs. His lack of hitting also puts more responsibilty on Smoak to be the MAN which is asking too much right now.

    Sure nice to see Pineda pitch good. He definitely has the ability to be a top of the rotation pitcher with some development of his change up.
    Think I would like to see him in 4 hole and Bedard in 5 hole so Felix is following a lefty not a power pitcher but with Felix’s stuff maybe it doesnt make any difference.

  19. Ed on April 6th, 2011 9:03 am

    I don’t think Cust was added specifically to improve the team power, but more to improve on the .609 OPS from M’s DHs last year. Expecting him to hit anything more than 15-20 HR and an equal amount of 2Bs is probably optimistic.

    Anyway, obviously it’s very early, but so far Smoak’s hitting lefties and he’s hitting for power and Pineda had a really promising debut. We’re losing, but I’m happy.

    Of course, it helps that the offense feels markedly better. They’re still not scoring a lot of runs, but they’re seeing a lot of pitches even when they’re getting shut down. Opposing starters have been running out of gas after 5-6 innings whereas last year I think they may have lasted 6-8. That should make a difference.

  20. dingla on April 6th, 2011 10:14 am

    Fountaindale wrote:

    Dave, you are simply the best baseball writer out there right now. I feel lucky that you still cover the M’s. Thanks.

    I second that.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.