Game 89, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · July 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Jon Lester, 7:10pm

Local boy Jon Lester faces the M’s ace in the best match-up the series tonight. Felix has been Felixing now for quite some time, staving off velocity loss, the occasional injury scare and wear-and-tear-related decline to post four consecutive excellent seasons, with a fifth half completed. These five years, 2009-2013, come after several more where he was merely ‘very good,’ of course. Jon Lester’s tenure as one of the best pitchers in the American League also began in 2013, but it’s well and truly over now, after a large step backwards in 2012 and stagnation in 2013. His fastball, which averaged 95mph in 2009, is now in the 93mph range, and the cutter he’s used as his outpitch is less effective than ever. Lester also uses a change and curve, and while the curve wasn’t bad early in his career, it’s clearly been his third- or fourth-pitch since 2009 or so.

None of this makes Lester a terrible pitcher. He’s still capable of getting strikeouts and grounders, and wasn’t as bad as his ERA made him look in 2012. Unlike many pitchers, Lester’s peak lasted more than a season or two, and he’s still adding value in the years following it. But barring a miraculous turnaround, it’s starting to look like Lester’s finished as an elite starter. It’s the sort of thing that makes you reflect once more about how strange and wonderful it is when a pitcher’s able to sustain greatness for a long period of time. Regression, age, attrition and even advanced scouting all pull pitchers back towards their less transcendent peers, and mostly succeed. A handful refuse, and through a combination of adaptation and talent, continue their run.

Line-up:
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Bay, RF
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Saunders, CF
SP: Felix Hernandez

Dustin Ackley gets the day off against a tough lefty…so that Mike Saunders can face him. Hmmm.

The M’s double play combination looks great, but of course it was about a month ago that M’s fans still held out hope that Dustin Ackley would reclaim his spot at 2nd and spend a decade getting on base and playing surprisingly good defense. In “it’s not just the Mariners” news, the Athletics DFA’d Adam Rosales and called up Grant Green, the ex-SS/ex-CF who moved to 2B and is hitting well in his second tour of the PCL. There are a lot of story lines in this – from Green finally finding a defensive home to the A’s middle infield depth (remember Hiroyuki Nakajima anyone?) shriveling – but the one I want to highlight is that the A’s finally gave up on their one-time 2B of the future, Jemile Weeks. Weeks debuted in 2011, just like Ackley. In his half-season, he posted a 110 wRC+ and if his walk rate and power were minimal, he looked to have well above-average contact skills. Weeks regressed so badly in 2012 that he was sent to the minors, and began 2013 there. A few weeks ago, both Weeks and Ackley were PCL 2Bs, trying to recapture their hitting stroke, and then watched as other prospects moved past them. And so, just like Ackley, Weeks is now attempting to learn center field.

Tyler Pike, Luiz Gohara and James Paxton highlight a prospect-rich day in the M’s minor leagues.

Comments

118 Responses to “Game 89, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. californiamariner on July 8th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Marc, what did you mean by this:
    ” Jon Lester’s tenure as one of the best pitchers in the American League also began in 2013, “

  2. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 6:00 pm

    I was wondering why Ackley was playing center so much, when to my eye he doesn’t seem to be all that good. Then I realized … Saunders is a Bavasi guy. Even if Saunders manages to do well, that doesn’t benefit Zduriencik.

    All these Z-drafted guys are playing for Zduriencik’s future with the org – he wants his bosses to focus on his strengths and not so much on what he isn’t good at. And, over the short term, Wedge can’t screw them up too much – that’ll take additional time. By that point Z will either have a new contract or will be out the door.

  3. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 6:37 pm

    I just realized – Blanco isn’t catching Felix this time.

  4. Woodcutta on July 8th, 2013 6:52 pm

    Is there a reason the M’s FO is so secretive about who will be called up to start Thursday’s game?

  5. Sports on a Shtick on July 8th, 2013 7:09 pm

    Let’s goooooooooo M’s!

  6. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 7:39 pm

    Kyle Sager is hitting .122 with RISP this year.

    What does that mean, Eric Wedge?

  7. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 7:43 pm

    I’d really like to see them swinging a little less often at the first pitch. I know that goes against Wedge’s mantra, but it sure seems like they’re doing an awful lot of what Smoak just did.

  8. Sports on a Shtick on July 8th, 2013 7:47 pm

    This happened in the King’s Court tonight:
    https://twitter.com/kennyschang/status/354431246086053889/photo/1

  9. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 7:49 pm

    Clearly, we have to get to the Bottom of this!

  10. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 7:49 pm

    Did you mean .212, Westy? (recalling your post from yesterday)

    Seager and Bay both hit the ball hard – right at people. Smoak just continued a tradition/trend/daily ritual/his personal right of passage/the slow kill of Mariner nation/additional fodder for further dissection. And as a right handed hitter, it almost become expected.

  11. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 7:51 pm

    Zunino caught Felix in his last game also. Saunders clearly has had his chances the past two years to grab a starting spot but has been unable to do so far, so I am not surprised Ackley is getting his chance In CF. Ackley doesn’t have the arm for right and you would be wasting his speed in left, so there he is in center.

  12. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 7:56 pm

    I wonder if the team also wants to keep LF Luke warm for Romero. That might be another reason.

    Plus, Ackley profiles (assuming the best) as a CF whereas a corner spot could be reserved in the future for a power hitter that the org covets, but can never seem to find (and at this point, Saunders doesn’t look like that guy)

    With the current roster – If Saunders and Ackley are in the lineup at the same time, it would only stand to reason that the best outfielder would be in CF, but … Mariners.

  13. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 7:58 pm

    Oops, you’re right Mike – it is .212. And I’m not dissing Seager, I’m dissing the “clutch” folks because apparently Seager has forgotten how to be clutch since last year.

    Don, did last year not happen? Saunders had a wRC+ of 108 last year.

  14. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:00 pm

    Re: Ackley – the team wants his bat going, so why not let him play an easier position while he focuses on his bat?

  15. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:03 pm

    Saunders, you’re not making my job any easier there…

  16. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 8:08 pm

    I think (not certain) the few games of experience that Ackley previously had in the OF, was as a center fielder. It might be the easier position for HIM. Not sure. Just speculating. His routes to the ball have looked a bit “uneasy” but not altogether Pegueroish … And he will only get better. With the teams collection of #4 and #5 outfielders, he fits right in defensively

  17. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:10 pm

    Darn it Carp, couldn’t you “Carp” that one for old times sake?

  18. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:12 pm

    I guess we’re going to disagree on Ackley. I don’t think his arm looks very good, which isn’t what you want in center – and that’s not something that’s going to significantly change with experience. And he’s always been considered a bat first prospect. So why punt the defense for a (hoped for) bat first guy?

  19. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 8:16 pm

    Westy, we said the same thing here. Carp owes us.

  20. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:19 pm

    It is so odd to have an athletic catcher.

  21. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 8:20 pm

    After all those years of them overpraising Olivo, Rob Johnson, etc. when they didn’t completely botch a ball in the dirt, here’s Zunino making a simply marvelous play on a 50 foot curve ball and crickets.

  22. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:22 pm

    So Z is asking “when are our guys all going to get healthy” when he’s the one who brought in an injury prone slugger?

    He should be thanking his lucky stars Raul has had an unbelievable resurgence rather than lamenting Morse being hurt for much of the year.

  23. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:23 pm

    I know, Bread!

    “oh, yeah, he framed that…” with a dull voice. “Kept that ball in front of him,” with a sigh.

    After all that BS about ‘wild pitches’ with Johnson!

  24. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:25 pm

    Come on Bay!

  25. Slats on July 8th, 2013 8:29 pm

    Smoak with RISP!

  26. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 8:29 pm

    About fucking time … And thank you!

  27. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 8:31 pm

    OMG! A hit with RISP! From Smoak! Right-handed!

  28. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:31 pm

    Well there’s the problem… Wedge has been talking to Smoak about hitting with RISP! ;-)

  29. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:33 pm

    Okay, Condor – DON’T BLOW IT.

  30. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 8:34 pm

    Turning point for Smoak’s season!

  31. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:34 pm

    I’m truly shocked at the utter geekiness of the men in King’s Court. They look like D&D refugees.

  32. Woodcutta on July 8th, 2013 8:34 pm

    I’m glad Zunino walked b/c the called “strike” was actually a ball. It sure is nice to see a catcher that has a good eye at the plate even though he has been struggling laying off breaking pitches.

  33. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:36 pm

    Whatever works, Saunders…

  34. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 8:36 pm

    Atta boy, Michael!

  35. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:37 pm

    That’ll do. If Lester wants to walk people in – let him.

  36. Woodcutta on July 8th, 2013 8:37 pm

    Lester is laboring.

  37. Woodcutta on July 8th, 2013 8:38 pm

    Let’s go Dark Helmet! Let’s Go!

  38. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:39 pm

    Come on, Nicky Boy!

  39. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 8:43 pm

    Centerfield has been traditionally a spot for a player with above average speed and an average arm. Seattle has been spoiled with the likes of Griffey and Cameron. With the good Oriole teams, it was Al Bumbry, Yankees had Bernie Williams, etc.. The Brewers moved Rockin Robin to cf after his elbow wouldn’t let him play short anymore.

  40. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:46 pm

    I think I have to stop cheering in thread for guys – it doesn’t work. Only the insults apparently work at all.

    Don, you could be right. We certainly did used to be spoiled with our center fielders…

  41. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 8:52 pm

    Start cheering again – but only when the Mariners are playing defense.

  42. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:54 pm

    All right Napoli! Hit it hard!

  43. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:55 pm

    Well, poop.

  44. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 8:56 pm

    ffffffffphew

  45. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:56 pm

    You were right, Mike – it worked.

  46. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 8:59 pm

    Raaaauuuuuuuuuullllll!!

  47. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 8:59 pm

    Why thank you, Raul.

  48. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 8:59 pm

    Now, this is just getting silly.

    :)

  49. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:06 pm

    Raul already has more home runs in 2013 than he hit in any of his previous three full seasons.

  50. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:09 pm

    CLUTCH – with all the variables in hitting numbers can be misleading. Every sport and skill has people who are better under pressure than others . If the numbers don’t show it than the parameters used to make the calculations are wrong.

  51. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 9:09 pm

    He’s had all these chances, Westy! The Yanks kept him on the bench!

  52. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:09 pm

    The power of Pharaoh for our Yul Brenner lookalike.

  53. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:10 pm

    His OPS against lefties…

    2010: .728
    2011: .585
    2012: .492

    2013: .900

  54. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:11 pm

    “Brynner”

  55. Sowulo on July 8th, 2013 9:12 pm

    I want to see him pass Ted Williams and claim the title of “Best Old-Guy Slugger Ever!”

  56. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:14 pm

    Smoak was out.

  57. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:14 pm

    If “performance anxiety” can be a real thing, why can’t “clutch” be a thing. I won’t argue against you George, but someone is going to.

  58. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:20 pm

    Yeah Condor!

  59. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 9:20 pm

    Wasn’t it Karl Marx who said that “clutch” is the opiate of the masses?

    Anyway, I have my own “unthinkable thought” to ponder. What if Raul hits better when he plays in the outfield regularly? Is there enough of a sample size to compare either when he’s uses primarily as a DH and/or when he’s only occasionally coming off the bench versus when he’s playing in the field?

    I’m definitely of the opinion that I’d rather Raul be used as a DH and possibly in a platoon at that–but we know that the last time Raul was an M, he said that he preferred playing in the outfield to being used as a DH–and pressed into outfield service this year certainly hasn’t hurt him at the plate…

    (Meanwhile, go M’s!)

  60. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Nice to see Condor hitting, and running.

  61. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 9:22 pm

    Nice to see the M’s getting a couple of umpire breaks for a change, too!

    (PS–My wife just said “Wedge looks like he’s had an unfortunate s’mores accident.”)

  62. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 9:22 pm

    Come on, Gazoo!

  63. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Raul’s career numbers at DH are basically the same as when he plays left field. Rest easy.

  64. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 9:24 pm

    Thanks, Westy!

  65. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:25 pm

    It’s no big deal – my point on clutch is that last inning Franklin “failed” – but he put up a good at bat – got a pitch – and drove it. Smoak hit a ball past 3rd that wasn’t that far from being a “failure” but was a “success” It’s more about process in hitting than actual results in hitting because there are so many factors that the batter doesn’t control. P.S. Rauuul “clutch” Ibanez again

  66. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:25 pm

    He’s got better numbers as a first baseman, actually – but that’s a smaller sample size.

  67. californiamariner on July 8th, 2013 9:28 pm

    Lol Raul this is so far past ridiculous

  68. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:29 pm

    I think the marshmallow reference from the other day was equally classic, Pete.

  69. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:30 pm

    That’s why we look at larger groups of numbers rather than talking about people failing in individual games or whatever.

    Playing Condor tonight has worked out, for instance – but Wedge made the decision because Saunders was 3-6 career against Lester, which is silly. When people have looked at the larger picture, it’s been shown that those sorts of numbers have no predictive value.

  70. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:30 pm

    Not bad for a replacement level player. Maybe we should trade for more 0 WAR guys.

  71. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:31 pm

    All right Felix!

  72. DarkKnight1680 on July 8th, 2013 9:31 pm

    Pike, Paxton, and Gohara didn’t disappoint.

    Pike went 5, no ER, a bit wild with 4 BB but also had 5 Ks.
    Paxton had his longest outing, 8 inning,s 0 ER, Only 2 BB and 2 K. Only 7 baserunners and no XBH.
    Gohara…wow. Kid is 16. 5 IP, 3 singles allowed, 0 walks, 9 Ks. That’s a statement game.

  73. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:36 pm

    Raul’s hitting contribution is at 1.6 WAR at present. His defense, as usual, has given half of that back.

  74. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:36 pm

    Westy what are Chavez’s numbers against Lester? If they are no good than you are just left with the lesser evil. Ackley, Chavez or Saunders

  75. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:38 pm

    Smoak!

  76. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 9:38 pm

    Smoak!

  77. DarkKnight1680 on July 8th, 2013 9:38 pm

    I’m just gonna say it.

    I F’in love the “new” Justin Smoak. Since he got back from the minors last year, he’s been a different guy. Love it.

  78. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:39 pm

    Who ARE these guys? Butch

  79. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:39 pm

    Haha, the only reason I knew Saunders numbers against Lester is they said during the broadcast that’s why Wedge played him.

    I can probably find out on BR though.

  80. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Mickey Mantle!

  81. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 9:41 pm

    So…can Smoak hit now? His numbers vs. righties are very good and against lefties it’s kind of a small sample.

  82. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:44 pm

    Chavez is 2-6 lifetime against Lester.
    Ackley is 2-7.

    Got that off of espn.com’s sortable stats actually!

    Ibañez was 4-12, but hadn’t had a hit since 2009.

  83. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 9:46 pm

    Paxton actually went nine shut out innings, I do believe.

  84. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:46 pm

    Excuse me – that data was from MLB.com.

  85. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:47 pm

    Ok who is the best choice – I guess he picked the “right” one so let’s anoint Wedgie a “genius” HAHAHA

  86. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:48 pm

    Good night for the Condor!

  87. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 9:49 pm

    Seeing Saunders foul off those close pitches with two strikes is really encouraging. Great at bat for Saunders!

  88. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:49 pm

    Is this the Mariners best game of the year, so far? If not, it has to be in the Top 3

  89. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 9:50 pm

    SAUNDERS – Wedgie MOY sometimes this game can make you cry

  90. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:51 pm

    Seriously, though – if you were a playoff-bound team, I think you’d want to look pretty hard at Raul. I have been arguing against “clutch” but he’s been a darn good hitter during last years playoffs and through most of this season.

  91. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:53 pm

    Nicky!

  92. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 9:53 pm

    This is awesome…but the beaten-down M’s fan in me is now worried “Oh, no…we’ve just scored all the runs we’ll score all series…”

    …but, I don’t care. This is fun. (Please don’t blow it!)

  93. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:54 pm

    I want another homer, Raul!

  94. californiamariner on July 8th, 2013 9:54 pm

    This is awesome

  95. Don Money on July 8th, 2013 9:54 pm

    Man, Miller has some serious speed!

  96. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 9:55 pm

    Crap – sorry, that was my fault. I forgot the whole rooting thing.

  97. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 9:58 pm

    Z is probably fearing that too, Pete. If anyone needs the team to get on a roll and become consistently respectable, its Z.

    By the way, any word on Jesus Montero’s rehab?

  98. Paul B on July 8th, 2013 9:59 pm

    I can be mean. I hope there were a lot of Red Sox fans at the game tonight.

  99. Longgeorge1 on July 8th, 2013 10:01 pm

    Good thing Wedge got Felix out. Last time he had a lead. This is FUN. The Red Sox Nation is a little quiet

  100. Paul B on July 8th, 2013 10:01 pm

    Montero has only 28 at bats with Tacoma.

  101. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 10:02 pm

    Isn’t Baby Steps Monty playing in Arizona?

  102. Sowulo on July 8th, 2013 10:02 pm

    Montero was 1-1 in his first rehab appearance in Arizona yesterday.

  103. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 10:03 pm

    There were a lot of Sox fans from the cheers when they were scoring earlier.

    I didn’t see Carp’s other at-bats. HAH at the “I’m a big Red Sawks boy now” beard!

  104. JasonJ on July 8th, 2013 10:03 pm

    This was probably the best game I’ve watched all year. Felix on the mound (hopefully getting a W), the young players hitting the crap out of the ball, Raul going yard again, and to top it off – it was against the Red Sox and all their bandwagon pink hat fans who come out of the woodwork to infest Safeco.

  105. The_Waco_Kid on July 8th, 2013 10:05 pm

    Hey, Ollie, how bout you get outta this, rather than tank your trade value?

  106. gopilots70 on July 8th, 2013 10:08 pm

    Excellent game to watch tonight, but, of course, I can not resist.

    Does anyone else wonder why Perez, our set-up man, closer, best reliever right now, was brought into the game with an eight run lead.

    I know we don’t want to “get greedy at this time of year” and win or even sweet a series, but….

    ??

  107. msfanmike on July 8th, 2013 10:08 pm

    Thanks Sowulo. I figured he had to be getting pretty close to playing by now. This is week #6 or #7 post injury/surgery.

  108. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 10:12 pm

    6 for 18 in a single game is no big deal, Dave. What is good is having 18 (now 19) AB with RISP at all.

  109. gopilots70 on July 8th, 2013 10:12 pm

    okay, I checked again and Perez has not pitched for awhile. So okay… hope we do not need him two nights in a row now though…

  110. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 10:34 pm

    Fifi

  111. juneau_fan on July 8th, 2013 10:35 pm

    I thought the same thing, Bread. These sports nicknames are out of control.

  112. Zero Gravitas on July 8th, 2013 10:37 pm

    Been mentioned already but I am so encouraged by the quality of at-bats tonight, like that long out Nick Franklin hit. We are now seeing a critical mass of guys who know how to HIT. So many encouraging at-bats tonight! Going to enjoy this. This calls for a celebratory drink.

  113. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 10:37 pm

    Dustin Ackley needs a nickname.

    I propose we call him “Two Sheds”.

  114. pgreyy on July 8th, 2013 10:47 pm

    For too long, my nickname for Dustin has been “Bill The Cat.”

    (Bloom County fans might get that reference. And for you, here’s an image to seal it:
    http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_small/0/3125/1341295-btc.jpg )

  115. Westside guy on July 8th, 2013 11:06 pm

    I like that! Bill the Cat!

  116. Breadbaker on July 8th, 2013 11:17 pm

    My wife and I both got it without needing the jpeg, pgreyy. Make it so!

  117. Kazinski on July 9th, 2013 12:10 am

    I don’t see why fans need to find scapegoats to blame especially among the younger players. There is no reason to rip Ackley for not performing up to everyone’s expectations. He has shown as much effort and work ethic as anybody could expect, and its pretty petty to rip him for not matching his performance with his expectations. Its one thing to rip a player like Josh Hamilton or Milton Bradley, players getting paid 10′s of millions, but baseball is hard and not everybody can meet the challenge.

    Ackley doesn’t deserve a job if he can’t perform, and frankly I don’t think he plays the outfield any better than Ibanez does, he looks just brutal out there. And of course there is no way he is getting his 2nd base job back. But that is the way baseball works, but there is no point in coming up with denigrating nicknames or trying to belittle him because his efforts have fallen short.

  118. Westside guy on July 9th, 2013 9:48 am

    Kazinski, The point was most baseball players have some sort of nickname and Dustin Ackley doesn’t have one.

    “Two Sheds” was a Monty Python reference – and the guy (Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson) was as normal a guy as you’d ever find on that show (it was the crazy people around him that was the funny part of that skit – they inexplicably gave him the nickname “Two Sheds” because he had, at one point, considered buying a second garden shed).

    And while I can’t speak for pgreyy, it seems pretty obvious the “Bill the Cat” nickname was simply because Bill’s trademark sound was “Aack!” – as in “Aackley”.

    I don’t see either of those as denigrating in the least. “Two Sheds” was just random, and if “Bill the Cat” is disparaging then so is Rauuul.

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