Game 5, Mariners at Rangers
Noesi vs Darvish, 5:05 pm
It’s Yu Darvish’s Major League debut, so the Mariners are kind of an afterthought tonight. I had a chance to sit behind the plate for one of Darvish’s spring training starts, and his breaking stuff is ridiculous, so there’s a good chance he makes a lot of guys look foolish tonight. However, he did struggle with his fastball command all spring and seemed to live on the outer half of the plate, so the team would do well to make Darvish throw strikes before they go up there hacking. If they can get into good hitting counts, they can sit on a fastball and neutralize his secondary stuff to a degree. If he’s throwing strikes, they’re screwed anyway – at least patience at the plate will give them a fighting chance if he’s not sharp. Aggressiveness is exactly the wrong approach to take tonight.
There’s one line-up change as Jesus Montero is on the bench due to a stomach bug, so Dustin Ackley moves to DH and Munenori Kawasaki gets the start. I haven’t seen an official comment from Wedge on why Kawasaki gets the call over a guy who can hit – like say Casper Wells – but I’d imagine you’re likely to hear something about “experience” and “he’s seen this guy before”. Yes, Kawasaki faced Darvish in Japan, but he was a trainwreck. According to the M’s, Kawasaki hit .221 with two walks and 19 strikeouts in 88 plate appearances, an abysmal line that suggests that any information we should gain (which is none, really, but assuming you put any faith in batter-pitcher match-ups to begin with) from their batter-pitcher matchup is that Kawasaki can’t hit Darvish.
But, hey, that’s Eric Wedge for you. I wonder what would have to happen for Casper Wells to get some playing time? Seems like we’re not going to find out any time soon.