Game 20, Mariners at Rangers
Aaron Harang vs. Justin Grimm, 12:05pm
Ok, no one threw a perfect game, but you couldn’t realistically ask for a better outcome from yesterday’s game. The Rainiers had a 5-0 lead five batters into the game, following Mike Zunino’s three-run homer. Sure, he’d been in a horrendous slump, and his home splits are concerning. But the fact that he instantly starting hitting again in a new environment, and that Eric Thames and Alex Liddi continued their strong starts as well, is legitimately encouraging.
With the ball flying out of the park in Salt Lake, Andrew Carraway’s strong start is all the more impressive. He hadn’t been off to the best start in 2013, but six innings of two run ball, with six K’s to only two walks represents a real step forward for the Virginia product. Andrew Kittredge was so-so in relief, but he came in with an 11 run lead; nobody cares that his command wasn’t sparkling.
All in all, it was a great night, and word that Taijuan Walker’s pitched a solid six innings in AA made it even better. The team’s able to move players like Liddi and Romero around the diamond, and Zunino gets to work on his blocking with the benefit of a huge lead (if anything was concerning about last night’s game, it’s that the Rainiers threw three wild pitches). At this point, it’s only a matter of…. wait…what?
I’m being told that this is a Mariners blog, and that I should talk about the M’s getting blanked by Nick Tepesch, Derek Lowe and the rest of the Rangers’ B-team bullpen. I need to talk about another atrocious game from the M’s young bats, and how bad it’d look if they come up empty again against Justin Grimm. We’re supposed to talk about all of that while refraining from knee-jerk, emotional responses. We’re supposed to talk about Dustin Ackley’s BABIP or Jesus Montero’s single when the sheer magnitude of their struggles is right in front of us. Repeated daily, in baseball’s cruel way of focusing attention on the players at either end of the results and/or talent distribution. This is hard. I wonder if maybe that’s why I like AAA so much. Eric Thamtes *Eric Thames* isn’t a flawed, defensively-challenged corner OF – he’s basically Ryan Braun. Danny Hultzen has a command lapse, then fixes it, and we can tell each other that everything’s fine, and that player development is a matter of pointing something out, and “working on it” for a month or two and that’s the end of it. But this is an M’s blog, so Ackley and Smoak and the boys take on Justin Grimm in front of thousands of people screaming that they suck. Go M’s!
1: Chavez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Shoppach, C
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Bay, LF
9: Ryan, SS
Divish reports that they’re giving Gutierrez a day off in the hope that he’ll be able to go back-to-back games sometime next week. Facing a right-hander with a four-seam and a good curve, maybe it’s not the end of the world.
Aaron Harang was pretty good in his first start with the M’s, but obviously Arlington presents a challenge for fly-ball pitchers without a ton of swing-and-miss stuff. Still, if he’s able to pitch effectively here, it’d go a long way towards shoring up the rotation – a rotation the M’s are evidently going to rely heavily on this year the way the offense is producing.