Game 47, Mariners at Angels
Brandon Maurer vs. CJ Wilson, 4:05pm
The M’s of the Zduriencik era will be remembered for many things, most of them bad, but I don’t feel like their volatility gets enough attention. It’s remarkable, in hindsight, that the team was .500 in JULY of 2011 before they went on a losing bender for three weeks. Last year’s team excised any trace of drama well before the all-star break, but then had long spells of solid play in the second half. A week ago, this team was on the upswing, taking 2nd from the free-falling Oakland A’s and beginning to scan AL Central box scores in the hope of moving up in the wild card standings. Now, they look lost again, with a tired, shell-shocked bullpen, a frustrated offense and a defense that’s dealing with some spectacularly poorly timed miscues. They weren’t as bad as they looked when they were 8-15 (easy to say, because they looked baaaaaad), and they weren’t as good as they looked in the Yankees series.
That’s part of the problem, really. Five years into the rebuild, we know intellectually that a bad week or two doesn’t mean the team is Astros/Marlins bad, but we’ve heard so much about guys like Smoak and Ackley that we look for hope in the periodic upswings. Ackley just needed to ditch the pre-swing alterations! Smoak is walking! Jason Bay, you guys, Jason Bay! At some point, the team has to get better, so every time they win a few games, it’s easy to slip on that narrative – contention is nigh, we just needed to be patient. So it’s always that Mariner-y combination of dispiriting and expected when that excitement is buried by a stretch of awful games like last night’s. You don’t need to content this year, M’s, but don’t make games like last night’s a habit.
So, Brandon Maurer. He’s used his curve more in his last two starts, especially the Oakland game, either because he knows it can be an effective pitch to opposite-handed hitters or perhaps because it’s something he can go to if he doesn’t feel he has great command of the slider on a particular day. In his last outing, he eased back on the curve, and threw a ton of sliders at Cleveland’s lefties. He mixed in the change and curve, but definitely relied on his slider more than he had against the A’s. So we’re still seeing Maurer’s approach evolve – he and Shoppach seem to tailor his pitch mix to specific teams or to specific conditions. And I think it’s worth noting that this’ll be Shoppach third consecutive start for Maurer. I know Montero’s clearly in more of a back-up role now, and it seems like they’re going to want to pair the veteran backstop with the young right-hander.
1: Bay, LF (!)
2: Saunders, CF
3: Morse, RF
4: Morales, 1B
6: Shoppach, C
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Andino, 3B
9: Ryan, SS
That’s…that’s a new line-up. Seager gets a rare day-off, necessitating the always-painful bottom of the line-up pairing of Andino and Ryan (can we add Ackley to that?).
The Angels have five lefties in their line-up, including J.B. Shuck, who they promoted when they realized that it’d been a while since they had Reggie Willits, and wasn’t that Reggie Willits something? Shuck can take a walk, slap grounders, and he never, ever Ks. Just throw strikes, Brandon.
Tacoma won its fourth straight yesterday on a Stefen Romero walk-off hit. They’re now 28-18. Andrew Carraway starts tonight against Nashville.
The M’s continue to scout Brazil fairly heavily, as they signed 17yo Daniel Missaki, who pitched (at age 16!) in the WBC first-round pool for team Brazil this year.