Game 110, Athletics at Mariners
12:40pm, Charlie Furbush vs. Gio Gonzalez
Yes, the last game thread was game 108, and this is game 110. The Mariners 2011 season no longer moves in a linear, martial fashion, and is now an avant garde performance art piece. Games are played almost immediately after one another in short, staccato bursts of activity, then, just as quickly, the empty drone of airliner engines. Nothing more until the evening of August 5th. The Mariners play with these negative spaces with a riotous jumble of their roster – who is this Charlie Furbush? Did Aaron Laffey ever really leave? Kyle Seager is simultaneously here and there.
Furbush makes his first start for the M’s and his third start overall this season. As we saw in his M’s debut, he’s beset by command issues that have led to a home run problem and a high walk rate. These same issues used to plague Gio Gonzalez, the A’s starter today. Gonzalez was a highly-rated pitcher in the White Sox system (he was a top 100 prospect after a stellar 2005), but his HRs spiked after he moved to AA (and the Phillies organization). He also struggled with free passes, which pushed his RA higher than his K rate would predict.
Gonzalez always had the reputation of a “real” prospect following his 2005 breakout season, and his velocity and breaking balls (curve/slider) were seen as MLB quality. Furbush….wasn’t. He had average velocity and got K’s with a deceptive motion and not actual stuff. But while Gonzalez clearly has better velocity (and well above average velo from the left side), the gap isn’t huge. Furbush averaged about 91mph in his starts for Detroit, and Gonzalez averages about 93. While Gonzalez’s velocity increased since his first call-up, the real difference has been a drop in his HR rate, at least in part driven by an increase in his ground-ball rate. That’s something Furbush should focus on in the off-season.
Justin Smoak’s off tonight after he hurt his thumb/hand fielding a grounder in last night’s game, but the M’s aren’t going with Adam Kennedy at first. Instead, they’re using Mike Carp. Here’s to Wedge for making hitting ability a priority.
1: Ichiro (DH)
4: Carp (1B)
5: Wells (RF)
8: Wilson (3B)
9: Halman (LF