Game 34, Mariners at Pirates

marc w · May 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Aaron Harang vs. James McDonald Jeanmar Gomez, 4:05pm

There are rivals, interleague “natural” rivals, and then there are teams like the Pirates, who exist solely on the ESPN crawl, in 1979-Pops-Stargell highlights, and old Barry Bonds baseball cards. I know about them – I know some of their players, I know their new ballpark looks gorgeous, know all about their 20-year plan for a winning season, and about the new-school front office that was going to instill a new culture and build a sustainable winner within 5 years. But I just don’t think about them. It’s harder and harder for teams to exist like this. With so much coverage, and with, mlb network, etc., you’re going to hear about it when Andrew McCutchen develops into a star. As a kid, I was fascinated by the Montreal Expos and their ‘other’ness. Their radio announcers spoke French. Their pitchers hit. They had all of these stars (the had a *catcher* who could seriously hit. Not just “not bad for a catcher” but real, actual hitting. This was more bizarre to me than the French thing, honestly) who existed in This Week in Baseball highlights and as All-Star Game ringers, but I had no sense of them as a team. That’s the Pirates for me now.*

Righty James McDonald starts tonight’s game. He’s a fastball/curve/slider pitcher who’s never quite put it all together. At one point, he had an above average fastball and a decent curve, and who looked like he could become a #3 in the Pirates rotation. He started experimenting with a slider, and got incredible results with it, so he used it as his two-strike outpitch in 2012 and raced off to a brilliant first half. Then, just as suddenly, he collapsed again. His first-half FIP of 3.00 turned into a second-half FIP of 6.37 and he was back to being the same old frustrating #4/5 starter on a below-.500 team. It’s fascinating, because his slider still got good results, even in 2012. His curve was solid too, even when hitters put it in play in the second half. His problem seemed to be that he couldn’t get into those two-strike counts, and when he’s behind, he relies heavily on his four-seam fastball. It’s a perfectly understandable, perfectly rational approach that 80% of MLB pitchers use, but it’s not working for McDonald.

Aaand now it would appear that McDonald’s been scratched and put on the 15-day DL. Huh. Taking his place is righty Jeanmar Gomez, a sinker-slider guy with a change-up against lefties. Gomez is a pitch-to-contact, groundball guy who came over from the Indians organization. He doesn’t miss many bats, has poor control, and a bit of a home run problem. If that sounds like a replacement-level starter, you’re dead on. He’s pitched about one full season over the course of his career with a FIP of about 5, good for 0.1 WAR. It’s a bit surprising that his platoon splits aren’t higher, considering his repertoire and arm-angle, but it’s just that he’s been bad against righties and lefties alike. The M’s start Aaron Harang tonight, so it’s not like this is a total mismatch on paper, but this is a game the M’s need to win. The Pirates aren’t a bad team, and they’re playing at home, but the M’s caught a break, and they should capitalize. To add to the Pirates problems, catcher/pitch-framer Russell Martin’s out with a neck injury, so the M’s get to face a B-team battery.

1: Saunders, CF
2: Bay, LF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Ackley, 2B
7: Shoppach, C
8: Ryan, SS
9: Harang, SP

No Morales, as the M’s lose the DH. We’ll see how many starts Morales gets at 1B in NL stadiums this year.

Reigning PCL pitcher of the week Jeremy Bonderman takes the hill for Tacoma in Oklahoma City today, and Roenis Elias leads Jackson against Huntsville.
The Rainiers won the final game of their homestand behind Andrew Carraway and homers from Corey Patterson and Carlos Peguero. Victor Sanchez lost his first decision of the year yesterday, but is still pitching beyond his years in full-season ball.

Go M’s!

* First thing I thought of when I thought about the Pirates just now: this game. The game in Safeco when Jeff Weaver shut out the Pirates on four hits, despite coming into the game with an ERA over 10, and 0-6 record, one DL trip for “tendinitis”, and generally being the worst pitcher in the league up to that point.


45 Responses to “Game 34, Mariners at Pirates”

  1. californiamariner on May 7th, 2013 3:39 pm

    Morales should be starting every game in NL stadiums at 1B.

  2. Gormogon on May 7th, 2013 3:53 pm

    Nice one, California. Why start a better player when you need to have someone else to “get going.”

  3. absolutsyd on May 7th, 2013 3:54 pm

    Maybe they want to save him to pinch hit… oh who am I kidding, it’s just stupid to start Smoak here.

  4. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 4:05 pm

    Nice to see Bay in left versus a righty while Chavez sits. On top of that, we get to see him hit second.

    Maybe Wedge is overconfident and wants to toy with the Pirates?

  5. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 4:10 pm

    Wedge is betting on Bay wanting to stick it to his old team and magically perform better.

  6. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 4:18 pm

    I really wouldn’t have a problem seeing him replaced immediately. Probably wont happen, but even Brown could take over on an interim basis.

  7. californiamariner on May 7th, 2013 4:26 pm

    Can Harang somehow get left stranded in Pittsburgh? Don’t think anyone would notice.

  8. marcus_andrews on May 7th, 2013 4:30 pm

    On a more interesting note than Aaron Harrang pitching, Nick Franklin has started several games in a row at short for Tacoma, it looks like their grooming him for a call-up.

  9. G-Man on May 7th, 2013 4:52 pm

    Tommy Harper trivia, since Blowers and Sims mentioned him:

    Harper led the Seattle Pilots in steals in their one year of existence.

    EDIT: and now he said it.

  10. spuuky on May 7th, 2013 4:53 pm

    It’d be cool to not have two or three (depending on how you count) atrocious starters in the rotation.

  11. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 5:03 pm

    They need to work in a “Ball Four” reference now. 😀

  12. msfanmike on May 7th, 2013 5:13 pm

    If someone on TV says “Zits him” we will know they are well-versed in “Ball Four” vernacular.

  13. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 5:29 pm

    That was a crappy looking swing even by pitcher standards!

  14. msfanmike on May 7th, 2013 5:31 pm

    I missed it, so please clarify … Ryan or Harang?

  15. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 5:32 pm

    Ha ha – it was Harang.

    Ryan’s hit it right at the shortstop twice, apparently (I missed the first few innings).

  16. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:01 pm

    Nice to see Ackley get that one.

  17. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 6:08 pm


  18. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:08 pm

    Nice to see Ibanez get that one.

  19. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:09 pm

    Endy next? Please.

  20. Woodcutta on May 7th, 2013 6:09 pm

    Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuul! About time.

  21. poulsbohemian on May 7th, 2013 6:10 pm

    What’s this? Sunny weather in Seattle and Raul with an RBI? I must be dreaming.

  22. Woodcutta on May 7th, 2013 6:11 pm

    Ugh. Now Andino is playing shortstop.

  23. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:11 pm

    Well, at least they got one.

  24. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:14 pm

    Zunino’s 2 for 2 so far tonight. He’s really been suckin’, so it’s nice to see him have a good game for Tacoma. Franklin’s struggled a bit the last few games.

  25. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:16 pm

    Bonderman’s struggling a bit tonight.

  26. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:19 pm

    Really wonder why they never really considered Furbush an option for the rotation this year. If there’s a durability issue, I could understand. But it really seems more like stubbornness and stupidity.

  27. hidalgo on May 7th, 2013 6:28 pm

    Attaboy Wedgie. Playing the top of the 7th like it’s the bottom of the 9th. Uh oh, no bench, no backup catcher. Here’s an idea, you coulda run Morales out there and kept some players for later.

  28. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:35 pm

    That pick off was closer than it should have been.

  29. Woodcutta on May 7th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Umpires calling balls and strikes really needs to go. I have seen horrible calls this year and that Ball 3 call was up there. It doesn’t matter where the catcher sets up, if the ball crosses the plate, it IS a strike.

  30. msfanmike on May 7th, 2013 6:40 pm

    Well, that settles that.

  31. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:42 pm

    M’s now down three…

    Yep, that should do it.

  32. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:43 pm

    Just realized something…. Pryor went on the 15 day DL April 15th. Haven’t heard anything sense, including a roster move. Anyone hear anything about that situation?

  33. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:45 pm

    Zunino now 3 for 3 tonight. Franklin has a couple of walks. No runs for Tacoma yet, though.

  34. Woodcutta on May 7th, 2013 6:45 pm

    …Pryor (back) is not close to returning from the disabled list anytime soon, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “Pryor is making good progress, but it’s still going to be a while,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Being such a big guy and how he throws, it’s going to be a while.” (May 5)…

  35. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:47 pm

    Haven’t heard anything sense, including a roster move.

    This was a test to see if anyone caught my intentional use of bad grammar. You all failed.

  36. stevemotivateir on May 7th, 2013 6:47 pm

    Thanks, Woodcutta.

  37. spuuky on May 7th, 2013 6:47 pm

    I love Grilli. It’s just too bad that he has to give up all these runs right now.

  38. Woodcutta on May 7th, 2013 6:52 pm

    You’re welcome. I didn’t know what was going on with him either. What is the 5 minute countdown for?

  39. hidalgo on May 7th, 2013 6:55 pm

    I gotta 5 min countdown too. Does everyone have it? Our insightful posts are outdated by they time they’re posted.

  40. The_Waco_Kid on May 7th, 2013 7:33 pm

    Slow week for Mariners baseball. Monday no game, today crappy game, tomorrow morning game, Thursday no game. I was hopin for a good game today.

  41. Westside guy on May 7th, 2013 8:41 pm

    Gotta love having two old, decrepit pitchers on the staff!

    Not good now, and no hope of being good in the future. Yeah, I’m gonna pay money to see this. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to watch starts by anyone other than Felix or Kuma at all, even on TV – I tuned out of this one about 2/3 of the way through.

  42. stevemotivateir on May 8th, 2013 7:22 am

    I wonder if Ibanez will be rewarded for his double last night with a start today?

    Also wondering if Morse needs to have his hand re-examined and maybe spend some time on the DL.

  43. msfanmike on May 8th, 2013 7:51 am

    Only if his hand is the reason why he continually swings at breaking balls off the plate and in the dirt.

    Lasik might be a better idea for Morse

  44. Westside guy on May 8th, 2013 7:55 am

    I expect Wedge may have finally figured out Ibañez best role is pinch hitting against a rightie – as was the situation yesterday.

    We certainly haven’t seen much of Raul lately…

  45. goat on May 8th, 2013 9:28 am

    The one thing I remember about the Pirates is that they played the Cincinatti Reds in the NLCS the year that the Reds won the World Series. I remember they had Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, Tim Wakefield, and maybe Andy Van Slyke or someone like that. Jim Leyland was the manager, and during the first game of the series, he changed the starting pitcher at the last minute. The starting pitchers knew it was going to happen, and it seemed like there was a big deal made of the fact that Jim Leyland had made his starting pitchers lie to reporters about who was going to start.

    Those Pirates are sneaky bastards.

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