Game 6, Mariners at White Sox
Felix Hernandez vs. Dylan Axelrod, 10:10am
Happy Felix Day! Which do you prefer: a morning of Felix dominance that gives you the afternoon and evening to reflect on and marinate in his genius? Or a full day to look forward to Felix; being able to slough off the daily indignities of work and life because Felix looms a few hours away?
Dylan Axelrod made several starts for the White Sox last year after slicing through the upper minors. He’s a 30th round pick out of UC Irvine who started out in the system as a reliever, before taking to the rotation in 2010. He commands four pitches and limits walks, while his outpitch slider allows him to get a fair number of Ks (and have issues facing lefties). All told, he’s something like a poor man’s Brandon Maurer – he’s got an 88-89mph fastball, but he only uses it 45%-50% of the time, with his slider around 35-40%, and a curve ball and a change-up to round out the arsenal. Like Maurer, he didn’t really have HR issues in the minors, but he gave up a fair few last year, though of course his home park probably played a role in that. This should be a good match-up for Kendrys Morales and may be the kind of opponent Smoak and Ackley need to get it going a bit. Franklin Gutierrez gets the night off after a night game both to give him a rest and because this isn’t an ideal match-up for him. The M’s saw him in the spring; here’s hoping they do a bit better today.
1: Saunders, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Shoppach, C
9: Ryan, SS
SP: King Felix
Other random tidbits:
Julio Morban’s off to a hot start for AA Jackson, with 5 hits in two games. Gabriel Guerrero’s still finding his feet with Clinton, going hitless in his first couple of games. His uncle Vlad Guerrero just signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks, where he’ll be joined by former Cy Young winner Dontrelle Willis.
Some of us were exchanging perplexed tweets about this while it was going on, but the Spring Koshien high-school baseball tournament just ended with 16-year old Tomohiro Anraku making headlines for throwing 772 pitches in a week. He opened with a 232 pitch 13-IP complete game, then a few days later threw 159 in another complete game. He rounded out the week with 130+ pitch complete games on back to back days (!) before pitching in the final. Exhausted, and with his velo down 6-8 MPH or so, he got pounded and his team lost 17-1. Apparently, this has set off some discussions in Japan about high-school workload, particularly around these tournaments. Just in time, too, as the Summer Koshien starts in a few months.
Jeremy Bonderman makes his Tacoma debut today in Fresno, while Hector Noesi begins his attempt to look nothing like Hector Noesi (at least the Noesi we’ve seen in the Mariner system) for AA Jackson. Matt Anderson starts for Clinton; he’s an interesting arm the M’s signed as a free agent last year.