Game 18, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Joe Saunders vs. Yu Darvish, 5:05pm

Yesterday’s game, like the proverbial half-filled glass, confirmed the previously-held suspicions of pessimists and optimists alike. I woke yesterday morning pretty firmly in the former camp, but there’s something about beating Justin Verlander that leads you to re-evaluate and, at the least, keep your options open. The M’s are midway through one of the toughest stretches in the season’s schedule, and they’re still standing. I went on a twitter rant yesterday about how the team is so ill-prepared to face quality right-handed pitching, but they’re actually doing better against righties than lefties (though that’s not saying much at all). They’re winning despite their offense, but the flip side is that their pitching has kept them in a lot more games than I would have thought. The M’s were absolutely throttled by Detroit pitching, but they fought off what seemed like an inevitable sweep. To the optimists, the team has gotten great performances when they’ve needed them most, and they’ve shown they won’t wilt under pressure. To the pessimists, the rotation’s peripherals still aren’t great, and the less said about the line-up’s production, the better.

The M’s now head to Texas and what we still expect is a very different run environment*. It’s too early for batted ball rates to mean much, but the M’s have been about as fly-ball heavy as they were a year ago. I’m surprised by that, but again, it may just be a sample-size glitch.** Joe Saunders’ career numbers are every bit as bad in Texas as they were good in Seattle, and both splits contain less actual, relevant information than many suspect. That said, Saunders needs to keep the ball down and avoid mistakes to Beltre and Kinsler. The bullpen’s still presumably gassed a bit after the marathon game the other night and after Pryor’s injury. With Wilhelmsen pitching three innings in the past two days, it’s not likely he’ll be available. That means Hector Noesi may make his return to the majors in Arlington, and they may not be able to wait until garbage time. Yoervis Medina may pitch some extremely high-leverage innings as well. C’mon bats, let’s score 21 runs again.

Yu Darvish has pitched against the M’s five times, and he’s given up 21 runs and 17 walks in just 29 innings. The big problem has been the first inning – he’s given up 12 runs in the first frame against Seattle. The bad, of course, is that he’s been pretty stingy after that. Given his arsenal of pitches and a fairly normal arm slot, it probably comes as no surprise that his platoon splits are fairly normal. I’d worry more about the match-up if the M’s hadn’t just beaten the guy less than a week before they’d beaten Justin Verlander, but the M’s still look weaker against really tough righties (and Darvish is one of them, his ‘career ERA’ against Seattle notwithstanding). Robert Andino and a huge pinch hit helped the M’s squeak past Verlander, and the M’s took advantage of Darvish’s wildness back on the 12th. There’s still time for Dustin Ackley to show that the proximate cause of his early season struggles was that pre-swing timing mechanism; having a high-OBP hitter in the line-up against righties would be huge if the M’s are going to maximize the impact of adding Morse/Morales. That’s exactly what Ackley was drafted for.

Franklin Gutierrez is still out with his groin issue, but in this particular case, that’s probably OK. Not that Endy Chavez is a great hitter, but a not-at-full-strength Guti against a righty just seems like a bad idea. This team needs Michael Saunders healthy, and they need him soon. Speaking of OF groin problems, Julio Morban is practicing and doing some running with AA Jackson, but isn’t in the line-up quite yet. Chris Harris estimates he’ll see the field again this weekend.

1: Chavez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, 1B
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, DH
6: Ibanez, LF
7: Shoppach, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Andino, SS
SP: Joe Saunders

* Fun fact: The M’s gave up 28 runs to the Astros in four games, but held Texas and Detroit to 15 in a combined seven games.
** The big difference from last year is Hisashi Iwakuma, who had the best GB% on the staff in 2012, but has been a fly-baller so far in 2013.


50 Responses to “Game 18, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. charliebrown on April 19th, 2013 5:38 pm

    What a spectacular AB for Andino. Watch 3 straight pitches go by for strikes.

    I could do that….and I’d do it for half the money he makes.

  2. californiamariner on April 19th, 2013 5:57 pm

    Darn morales hit that one pretty well.

  3. Bodhizefa on April 19th, 2013 5:59 pm

    Montero has played himself out as the starting catcher it seems. I sure hope they send him down and let him get some AB’s in Tacoma as a DH/1B soon. Call up Sucre and forget about Zunino till he figures out how to bump up his contact rate.

  4. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:09 pm

    It’s not just his contact rate. Zunino seems to be struggling with pitch recognition, though I suppose that goes hand in hand with a bad contact rate. I’m actually glad to see this now, though. It’s not like his defense doesn’t need a little seasoning as well.

    Montero’s interesting, because it’s hard to picture them sending him down to work behind Zunino, or vice versa. I doubt they demote him. But I really wonder if they have any kind of plan.

  5. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:13 pm

    I’d have been more concerned about the Andino signing if I’d known he was going to play 5 games a week.

  6. californiamariner on April 19th, 2013 6:14 pm

    Seriously, it isn’t a big deal if your utility infielder is Andino, because he’s not bad in that role. It becomes a big deal when Wedge decides he needs to play 5 days a week.

  7. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:15 pm

    Well, it’s no worse than having Trayvon 5 days a week.

  8. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:15 pm

    It’s like Wedge gave up on Montero but not on Smoak.

    I am thinking the opposite, personally.

  9. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:16 pm

    I gave up on trying to figure Wedge out.

  10. Bodhizefa on April 19th, 2013 6:17 pm

    “Montero’s interesting, because it’s hard to picture them sending him down to work behind Zunino, or vice versa. I doubt they demote him. But I really wonder if they have any kind of plan.”

    Alternatively, I have a tough time believing they’d keep him up only to play him two times a week. Montero needs reps at the plate, and he can’t get those now in the big leagues. It only makes sense to ship him down and use him at DH and 1B in Tacoma, right?

  11. Bodhizefa on April 19th, 2013 6:18 pm

    Smoak needs to be cut. He’s toast.

  12. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:22 pm

    If it is obvious to us, they’ll figure it out in a couple of months.

  13. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:24 pm

    Smoak has a five game hitting streak. I doubt he gets cut anytime soon.

    Montero may very well stay in a backup role. I don’t see them trying to convert him during the season. They have plenty of middle infielders looking for a place. We would assume someone gets converted to the outfield, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw one of those guys at first.

  14. The_Waco_Kid on April 19th, 2013 6:25 pm

    Why does Saunders’s jersey not say “J. Saunders” or “M. Saunders” for Michael?

  15. californiamariner on April 19th, 2013 6:27 pm

    Very early in the season, but we definitely can’t complain about Joe Saunders.

  16. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:27 pm

    damn. Nice play by Andrus to get Ackley.

  17. californiamariner on April 19th, 2013 6:28 pm

    I know Ackley has struggled this year, but he’s sure had some bad luck to help him along that path.

  18. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:29 pm

    Weren’t they all happy with the hitting coach in spring training?. Haven’t seen him interviewed lately. No surprise.

  19. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:30 pm

    No kidding. He’s hit some balls hard, but seems to find fielders too often.

  20. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:32 pm

    Looks like we’ll need maybe 3 infielders next year, so I wouldn’t’ be giving up on any of the ones in Tacoma or Jackson.

  21. californiamariner on April 19th, 2013 6:42 pm

    I thought Raul was going face first.

  22. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:44 pm

    I’m real high on Romero and Miller. Franklin, not so much, but I’m still curious to see what happens with him.

  23. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:46 pm

    Bases loaded, one out, and Noesi’s getting warm.

    Is the future predictable?

  24. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:48 pm

    This is hilarious!

  25. jordan on April 19th, 2013 6:48 pm


  26. Slats on April 19th, 2013 6:49 pm

    WTF Ibanez.

  27. Paul B on April 19th, 2013 6:49 pm

    Raul should play in the field every day.

  28. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 6:50 pm

    Don’t anyone dare blame Ibanez. That was clearly a bad spot in the grass.

  29. jordan on April 19th, 2013 6:50 pm

    Ibanez is so graceful

  30. Longgeorge1 on April 19th, 2013 6:57 pm

    What are the chances of signing either or both of Morse or Morales? Saunders returns = Morse to DH=Morales to 1st = Smoak? Sucre replaces Montero as Shoppack’s backup and Montero? I’d put both on waivers which I believe would be revocable since they both have options, if a claim is made try to see what you can get if not Smoak might fit in Tacoma but we have top prospects at AA and AAA catching and Montero will never(?) be more than a DH. J. Saunders has returned to what I expected OK small sample (yea I’m still pissed about Garland) If we packaged Smoak, Montero and Noesi could we get more than an old umbrella?

  31. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 7:00 pm

    I seriously doubt Sucre will replace Montero. He’s in a backup role in Tacoma for good reason.

  32. Bodhizefa on April 19th, 2013 7:04 pm

    I guess I’m just confused by your line of thought, stevemotivateir. We need a back-up catcher who doesn’t need at bat reps, and that guy is Sucre. We don’t need a 23 year old guy who still has some potential as a big league hitter getting only two starts a week and few at bats, though. Montero needs to be DH’ing and playing a bit of first in Tacoma — it’s in both his and our best interest. Sucre is a replacement level back-up, which is fine in the interim to back up Shoppach.

  33. Longgeorge1 on April 19th, 2013 7:06 pm

    I know but we wouldn’t want to reduce playing time for Zunnino (recent play shows he is not ready anyway) Sucre will never be better than marginal but he is a body that can catch the ball and Montero might be able to get some AB’s as a DH somewhere

  34. Longgeorge1 on April 19th, 2013 7:09 pm

    Hector for Cy Young award wooohooo!

  35. TheKidWouldGo on April 19th, 2013 7:09 pm

    Noesi did that? really? Good job!

  36. The_Waco_Kid on April 19th, 2013 7:10 pm

    I’ve only seen him play a little and read little about him, but it was my impression that Sucre had defensive potential and could be a big league backup. He just can’t hit.

  37. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 7:12 pm

    Sucre isn’t replacement level because he’s never played in a major league game.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Montero doesn’t really belong here. But I just don’t see them sending him down to switch positions, or to back up Zunino. I think it’s more likely Montero stays here in a back up role until he can hit in a few games and not completely embarrass himself behind the plate.

    Unless he’s traded first, but I wouldn’t expect that either.

  38. Spanky on April 19th, 2013 7:14 pm

    I had to just log in and say… REMEMBER THE CASPER!!!


    This team has become a joke! Finally… the SeaClowns return to the NW after a decade in exile by Grif/Edgar/Unit/Bone reign!

  39. The_Waco_Kid on April 19th, 2013 7:16 pm

    Given that he probably can’t catch and that he seemed to hit better at C than DH last year, couldn’t they send him down and get him used to DH’ing at AAA, in hopes that he could DH better in the bigs?

  40. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 7:17 pm

    SeaClowns? Really?

    Man, that was bad. Not as bad as Ibanez in the field tonight, though. That was fugly!

  41. stevemotivateir on April 19th, 2013 7:21 pm

    DHing Montero in Tacoma just seems like a waste, doesn’t it? I would think they’re more hopeful for a little success as a catcher so they can trade him for an outfielder, or package him. Pure speculation on my part.

  42. G-Man on April 19th, 2013 7:32 pm

    Old security guy – don’t watch the ball, watch the player.

  43. G-Man on April 19th, 2013 7:36 pm

    Montero isn’t worth much in trade. Everyone else sees that he is a decent-hitting catcher with poor defensive skills, or a mediocre-hitting DH. His main value now is that hes cheap.

    But yeah, try to develop his hitting and he’s worth more.

  44. The_Waco_Kid on April 19th, 2013 7:58 pm

    steve, I see what you’re saying, but I don’t hold out much hope for that.

  45. Bodhizefa on April 19th, 2013 8:34 pm

    Ichiro, with an OPS of .588, is currently outhitting 4 of our starters — Smoak, Montero, Ryan, and Ackley, of course.


  46. Westside guy on April 19th, 2013 8:37 pm

    I missed most of the game – but I did hear Ibañez’s miscue. I only wish I’d gotten to see it!

    Hopefully Condor will be in playing shape after his DL stint – our current outfield is quite a joke.

  47. GhostofMarinersPast on April 20th, 2013 12:25 am

    I really think its time to change the uni’s and the logos and everything. Time for a “new era”. I’m completely serious. This has to happen. Time to put the last decade behind and start anew.

  48. Bodhizefa on April 20th, 2013 12:52 am

    I love the M’s logo and uniforms. They just need good players inside of them is all. Cosmetic changes are assuredly what this tem does not need, though. That doesn’t help anyone at all.

  49. tdhseattle on April 20th, 2013 1:05 am

    Hate to say this, people — and you might disagree. But I actually think we have a LOT of talent on this team. But it is the player development and coaching staff that needs to be taken a long look at. Dustin Ackley is major league material. Seager is major league material. Smoak (laugh at me if you want) IS major league material. It seems that the elite teams — like the Rangers, Yankees, Marlins, etc) have a habit of getting the most out of their players. This falls SQUARELY on Eric Wedge. I have never seen such lack of passion. You cannot say that if Lou Pinella was managing this ship that things would be exactly the same. They wouldn’t. He wouldn’t stand for it. Maybe it is partly Z’s fault too. But Eric Wedge is not a good manager. I’ve been a fan since 1986 (when I was three years old!). I can tolerate losing. But when I feel like no matter who we put in there to bat we are going to stink, it falls on the manager.

  50. GhostofMarinersPast on April 20th, 2013 1:29 am

    A cosmetic change is exactly what this team needs. It’s all mindset. You get into their heads that they are kicking off a new generation for a team and fan base. That THIS team will be remembered as the first squad in a new era of mariner baseball. This is the time. Now is forever until tomorrow!

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