Game 40, Mariners at Yankees
Aaron Harang whoops Hector Noesi vs. Andy Pettitte, 4:05pm
Your Mariners begin play tonight tied for second place with the free-falling Oakland A’s. With the A’s off, the M’s have a great chance to wrest control of 2nd and jump into the fringes of the wild card chase. It’s somewhat funny that we all thought the addition of the Astros would give the AL West an advantage in the wild card hunt, but instead the AL Central has four teams ahead of Seattle, with one (the White Sox) only a game or so back.
Speaking of somewhat funny, tonight’s pitching match-up would have been a must-see game in 2006. Aaron Harang peaked with a pair of five-win seasons in 2006-07, while Andy Pettitte sandwitched five-win seasons around an injury year in 2003/2005*. While Pettitte’s had an up-and-down campaign thus far, he’s coming off a bizarrely effective 2012 (after retiring in 2010), and he claims to have made mechanical adjustments that led to a successful start five days ago. We’ll see. Aaron Harang has *really* been up and down, and apparently, it doesn’t matter, as he’s been scratched with back stiffness. The thought of skipping Harang’s spot in short-porchy Yankee Stadium is a great one, but be careful what you wish for, M’s fans. Today marks the 2013 starting debut for ex-Yankee Hector Noesi.
This is the spot where’d I’d point out that Pettitte, especially during his comeback, has been death on a stick against lefties, largely thanks to an effective cutter. I’d also point out that Hector Noesi is HECTOR NOESI, and that his lack of HRs allowed is just sitting there, taunting me and muttering about the Gambler’s Fallacy. On paper, this is just a weird, weird looking game. If the past few days are anything to go by, Noesi will throw a shutout and Ibanez will homer off of a Pettitte cutter.
1: Saunders, CF
2: Bay, LF
3: Seager, 3B
5: Morse, RF
6: Ibanez, DH
7: Montero, C
8: Ackley, 2B
9: Ryan, SS
SP: :deep breath: Hector Noesi
While it’s tempting to gorge on the incongruity of it a game like tonight’s M’s game, I’m going to head to Cheney Stadium for the first of a four game set pitting the Rainiers against the Memphis Redbirds. Before the season started, I targeted this series as the match-up of the two potentially most prospect-laden teams in all of minor league baseball. If you think I’d like to backpedal from that statement now, well, thanks, that’s very kind of you….just a little…yeah, there we go. I thought Taijuan Walker would be assigned to Tacoma, that Hultzen would be healthy and that Carlos Martinez would be in Memphis. But Walker’s in AA, Hultzen’s in the training room and Martinez skipped AAA and is in the Cardinals bullpen. Still – these games feature two of the absolute best position-player prospects in all of baseball in Mike Zunino and Oscar Taveras. Pitching for Memphis is another top prospect, RHP command-artist Michael Wacha, who would probably be in St. Louis now if the Cards rotation wasn’t already incredible. If you feel like getting out to a game this weekend, you should probably head down to Tacoma and check it out. Jimmy Gilheeney starts for Tacoma in Hultzen’s place tonight, but the whole series has a lot of interesting match-ups to watch as MLB’s #1 and 2 (or thereabouts) minor league orgs face off.
[Edit to add: another reason to check out the game tonight? Franklin Gutierrez will DH in his first rehab start.]
* Pettitte’s biggest WAR year? Way back in 1997, when the M’s were setting HR records, making the playoffs, making regrettable trades for Heathcliff Slocumb, and when a young Andy Pettitte put up a 7 win season for a solid team but lost to Jaret Wright and the Indians in the ALDS.