Game 103, Twins at Mariners

marc w · July 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Scott Diamond, 7:10pm

Happy Felix Day! The King returns to bask in the adoration of his subjects, and his royal will (and the savvy importing of a new middle infield) has his Mariners playing legitimately good baseball. No longer do we have to marvel at Felix, then suffer through painful half-innings of Brendan Ryan popping up, basically every catcher ever striking out, and Franklin Gutierrez grimacing and holding something. I’d say “I could get used to this,” but to this point, I haven’t. Jeff mentioned it on twitter, and I have to concur: feeling happy about the Mariners, not Felix, but the entirety of the team, feels alien and at some level uncomfortable. I’m getting there, because this team is suddenly fun to watch, but….years and years of conditioning don’t just drop away because Brad Miller hit some doubles.

Yesterday I mentioned that while Scott Diamond was a righty, he wasn’t a perfect match-up in the vein of Bud Norris, a guy with huge platoon splits against lefties. In Scott Diamond, the M’s have a sneaky good match-up. Diamond is a lefty, who throws a fastball and a curve, with the occasional change he’ll throw to the single batter in the line-up who bats righty. The FB’s right at about 90mph, but his curve’s something of an oddity, as it’s thrown at 82. Indeed, everything about Diamond’s curve looks off – it’s thrown at a velocity that’d be about two standard deviations from the 2010 average. In large part because of this, its vertical movement is similarly unusual, and it exhibits virtually no horizontal movement at all, especially when compared to his four-seam fastball. By pitch fx, it doesn’t look like a curve ball at all. Does the novelty trouble batters? No, not particularly. In his brief career, he’s given up 12 HRs on it and batters are slugging .412 – on a pitch that he uses primarily when he’s ahead or has two strikes.

More than an oddly ineffective curveball, Diamond’s biggest problem has been an inability to get lefty hitters out. With a straight fastball and a curve that doesn’t, er, *curve*, he doesn’t really have a weapon that breaks away from them, like a slider or, you know, a normal curve ball. The results aren’t pretty: again, the “career” sample is tiny, but lefties are hitting .311/.356/.538 against him. This season, they’re slugging .646. This is not a good match-up for Mr. Diamond. Especially with a sample this small, we should regress these observed splits, and given his short career, that ameliorates these huge gaps. But given his arsenal and the way he uses it, I think Diamond’s always going to have problems against lefties. OPS over 1.000? Slugging .650? No, but problems nonetheless. Sadly, the M’s may not have been aware, and stacked the line-up with as many RHBs as possible. This isn’t the end of the world, as Diamond isn’t great against anyone, and regressed splits, etc. etc. but that still doesn’t address the drop off in batting ability between Brad Miller and Brendan Ryan.

I mentioned that Kevin Correia was the walking embodiment of the Twins’ pitching philosophy, but Diamond isn’t far off. Correia has the advantage of being someone the Twins signed to a multi-year free agent contract, which illustrates just how committed the Twins are. Diamond was picked up in the Rule 5 draft out of the Atlanta organization. The Canadian lefty opened some eyes last year with an ERA and a FIP under 4 for a last-place Twins team, but looking at his entire career, it’s looking a lot like an outlier. Diamond gets a good number of ground balls by relentlessly targeting the bottom of the strike zone. His fastball’s movement shouldn’t produce grounders, but his location makes up for this. Grounders plus essentially no walks is a good starting point for a pitcher, but it’s just a starting point – Diamond hasn’t yet developed an out pitch to help him get strikeouts, and he doesn’t need to miss his location by much for batters to start driving balls. 2012 was a career best (including the minors) for Diamond’s walk rate, and he also generated more GBs than you’d expect given his minor league rates. His HR/FB ratio was normal, but few walks and few fly balls of any kind made his overall stats look pretty good.

In 2013, his walk rate’s crept up a bit while his K% is down in Blake Beavanland. A drop in GB% AND K% means he’s giving up more fly balls, and an uptick in HR/FB really isn’t necessary, and is just sort of piling on. Add it up, and he’s been below replacement level by both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. No Ks and a lot of HRs has Blake Beavan pitching for Tacoma, but the Twins keep running Diamond out there, as their other option is Liam Hendriks – essentially the same guy, just without the ground balls (who’s not exactly tearing up AAA right now). This should’ve been as good a match-up, on paper, as the Mariners would see this season, and the M’s have played the Astros 12 times. Unfortunately, this is a standard platoon split line-up which helps Diamond greatly. Well, that and Mike Zunino’s injury (see below).

1: Bay, RF
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, CF
8: Ryan, SS
9: Blanco, C
SP: King Felix

The big story of the day is that Mike Zunino’s been placed on the 15-day DL with a broken hamate bone. He was hit on a foul ball last night in the same spot he was hit a few games ago. Not sure if he had a small fracture and played through it or if the two knocks were just a coincidence. Ryan Divish has a post about the injury here. The M’s appear to have signed Humberto Quintero, who was DFA’d by Philadelphia two days ago, to take Zunino’s spot on the active roster. Helpfully, there’s an open 40-man spot available. If Jesus Sucre, Brandon Bantz and Humberto Quintero all play C for the M’s in a single year…I wish I had a clever punchline for something so improbable. Gotta sting for Jason Jaramillo, though. He was already in the org and three years younger, but Quintero’s considerable edge in big league experience was probably the difference-maker. (Hat tip to Ryan Divish for the Quintero news)

I missed yesterday’s satisfying win over Minnesota, as I went to see the Rainiers. They were green uniforms for a Sounders promotion, and perhaps we can blame the unfamiliar duds for Taijuan Walker’s subpar performance. He gave up 5R in 5IP, walking 3 while striking out 8. He struggled, particularly in a terrible 4th inning in which he gave up 4 runs, but it was encouraging all the same. He was nearly unhittable through three, mixing his excellent mid-90s FB with a very occasional curve and occasional cutter. The problem was FB command, and it showed up early, but he just had too much talent for it to matter the first time through. He went to three-ball counts on 3 of the first 6 hitters, and while none of them walked, it was running his pitch count up *and* getting him a little miffed at the home plate umpire. From my vantage point (not directly behind HP; parallax alert) the calls looked OK. It was a small zone, but I don’t think he was straight up blowing calls the way the ump in his first AAA start was. Still, if the zone was a tiny bit bigger, the game may have turned out quite differently. In the 4th, batters seeing him for the second time laid off early FBs and either knocked sharp singles when ahead in the count or waited for the curve and hit line drives on that. Not sure if the sequencing was too obvious or if he had a “tell” in his delivery, but several Tucson batters looked like they knew when a curve was coming. The first batter to do anything off of Walker was ex-Rainier Mike Wilson, who blasted a HR on a curve ball for the Padres first hit. The Rainiers stuck around thanks to Rich Poythress and Jason Jaramillo and won the game in the 10th on Poythress’ walk-off HR, his second HR of the game.

I just couldn’t stop myself from rechecking my camera and blinking deliberately every few minutes. Taijuan Walker is wearing green, and Mike Wilson is wearing grey. Up is left, down is itchy, dogs and prawns tweeting together. Surreal.

The M’s gave Michael Morse the start in RF for Tacoma, and had him play 9 innings for the first time on his rehab (Carlos Peguero replaced him for extras). Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great night at the plate for Morse. Tucson lefty Robbie Erlin has a good change and hides the ball a little bit by pivoting over his front foot, which comes down on the 1b side of the center line. For whatever reason, Morse obviously wasn’t seeing the ball at all, and he struck out swinging all three times he faced Erlin. In his first two PAs, he whiffed six times – three swinging strikes per K. He mixed in a foul ball the third time, however. Somewhat oddly, those were the only three strikeouts Erlin had in the game.

Blake Beavan pitches for the Rainiers tonight as they open a series in Reno. He’ll face Brandon McCarthy, who’s rehabbing with the Aces before rejoining the D-Backs. Anthony Vasquez leads Jackson against Chattanooga, and Tyler Pike starts for Clinton against ex-affiliate Wisconsin.


95 Responses to “Game 103, Twins at Mariners”

  1. Slats on July 26th, 2013 9:37 pm

    Get the win for Felix.

  2. californiamariner on July 26th, 2013 9:37 pm

    What a shame Felix didn’t get the shutout. He was absolutely amazing tonight.

  3. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Can’t blame Felix for giving up a whole one run…

  4. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 9:40 pm

    Ugh, can we have a pitch hitter for Ryan? (I already know that answer)

  5. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 9:41 pm

    Rather big lefty strike zone, there.

  6. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 9:41 pm

    There’s a god!

  7. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 9:42 pm

    No one to pinch hit for Blanco though.

  8. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 9:43 pm

    Why let Blanco bat? We’ve got a lefty pinch hitter on the bench, and another catcher that’s easily better than “Hank”.

    Yesterday someone mused about how Thompson would be as manager. Let’s just say Wedge has surrounded himself with like-minded individuals.

  9. phineasphreak on July 26th, 2013 9:44 pm

    Once again, Blanco looks SO FAR from his comfort level. Jesus (Sucre).

  10. phineasphreak on July 26th, 2013 9:46 pm

    For the record, I really like Furbush.

  11. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 9:47 pm

    We can put this Felix no-decision on the management. An awful lineup against the starting pitcher generates one run, and not pinch-hitting for Blanco blows away any chance at a win for him.

  12. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 9:48 pm

    And Furbush looks like your Crazy Cousin Charlie, but it’s all good.

  13. crwmsc on July 26th, 2013 9:53 pm

    Here’s the Twitter update from Greg Johns on Jesus Sucre. Sucre doesn’t appear to be close. Must be one hell of a bruise.

    “For those asking, Jesus Sucre is still on the disabled list with a bruised wrist from back in early June. He hasn’t played since.”

  14. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 9:55 pm

    Homer. Now.


  15. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 10:00 pm

    Come on, guys. I need my nap before going to bed.

    Oops…Wilhelmsen. Perhaps I shouldn’t be wishing for a quick ending.

  16. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:05 pm

    Hmm… They pulled Saunders before the end of yesterday’s game, now they haven’t used him in a very obvious place where they should have… wonder if he’s tweaked something? Maybe he’s not available?

  17. G-Man on July 26th, 2013 10:16 pm

    Eh, I can’t blame them too much for not wanting to put their new catcher into a game. Veteran or not, if he just got there during BP, he’s hardly up to snuff on the staff, signals, etc.

    Along those lines, I don’t blame Thompson for being at least as conservative a Wedge. He doesn’t want to hurt any chance at a manager’s job some day by thinking outside the (admittedly narrow) box.

  18. Kazinski on July 26th, 2013 10:17 pm

    If this isn’t the time to use Saunders as PR, I don’t know when it is, unless there is something wrong with him and he can’t hit.

  19. Kris on July 26th, 2013 10:24 pm

    At the start of tonight’s game, Rizzs noted that Thompson had put the righties in the line-up, “even though lefties are hitting better off Diamond”. When even Rizzs notices stuff like this and thinks it’s odd and the managers don’t you know we’re screwed.

  20. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:25 pm

    Wow, my respect for Rizz just went up a notch, Kris.

  21. pgreyy on July 26th, 2013 10:43 pm

    “This is the game that never ends.
    It just goes on and on, my friends.
    Two teams started playing it, not knowing what it was…
    And they’ll continue playing it forever, just because…”

  22. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:45 pm

    My secret fear is this is exactly what’ll happen at some point – Raul just completely stops hitting.

  23. pgreyy on July 26th, 2013 10:45 pm


    Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 8:24 pm
    “Cost the M’s a run.”

    Not to mention Felix and the M’s a win in regulation.

  24. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:47 pm

    BTW thanks for getting that song stuck in my head, pgreyy.

  25. Slats on July 26th, 2013 10:49 pm

    Game over.

  26. juneau_fan on July 26th, 2013 10:50 pm


  27. pgreyy on July 26th, 2013 10:50 pm

    I believe it was Flava Flav who once said “Cold Medina…cold Medina”

    (Yes, I know, it was Tone Loc who had the hit with “Funky Cold Medina”…but I’m not hearing “Funky” right now…so I went with Public Enemy instead.)

  28. californiamariner on July 26th, 2013 10:50 pm

    What a wasted night

  29. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:51 pm

    Another Felix gem thrown away.

  30. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:52 pm

    I didn’t know Jose Mesa was still on the team…

  31. Kazinski on July 26th, 2013 10:54 pm

    Raul has always been very streaky. Despite the fact that you can’t predict when streaks will begin or end, I don’t think there is any doubt that Raul is prone to them.

    When he is on a streak, then keep playing him, when he gets cold sit him. Even when he is hot his defense subtracts a lot of value, when he is cold then he is a black hole of suck.

  32. Westside guy on July 26th, 2013 10:59 pm


  33. Slats on July 26th, 2013 10:59 pm


  34. californiamariner on July 26th, 2013 11:02 pm

    Where was this the first 12 innings!

  35. californiamariner on July 26th, 2013 11:03 pm


  36. mossi on July 26th, 2013 11:37 pm

    aaaah, blame it on Wedge.

  37. ivan on July 27th, 2013 5:25 am

    Blame it on Felix. As well as he pitched, he grooved a meatball on 0-2 with the tying run in scoring position, even though he had been making the batters hack at stuff out of the zone all night.

    When he went 0-2 to Plouffe, I was sitting there thinking “Now up the ladder.” He had 2-3 pitches to waste and he put the next pitch right down the pipe. He had the game in his hands, and he made the one bad pitch that he couldn’t afford to make.

    Blame the hitters, sure, but it’s beside the point. Felix doesn’t skate either.

  38. MrZDevotee on July 27th, 2013 8:06 am

    Damn. 3 games under .500 slips away in the 9th.

  39. BillyJive on July 27th, 2013 8:21 am

    …arrgh..stop it!

  40. Westside guy on July 27th, 2013 1:54 pm

    … And Saunders isn’t in Saturday’s lineup either. What’s going on?

  41. Westside guy on July 27th, 2013 6:25 pm

    Apparently Saunders isn’t hurt, since Robby Thompson used him to pinch hit in the eighth.

    So with all the complaining I’ve done about Wedge, I was unaware of this… but it’s becoming apparent that his bench coach is even worse at managing than his boss.

  42. Westside guy on July 28th, 2013 10:20 am

    In retrospect, my last couple comments may have been unjustifiably harsh. I don’t know what’s going on in the day-to-day management of the team. For all I know, Saunders could’ve just been under the weather, but told Thompson he could pinch hit if needed.

    I was making the classic small sample size analysis mistake. 😀

  43. msfanmike on July 28th, 2013 10:40 am

    In yesterday’s post-game, Thompson said Saunders had a minor hamstring issue (I think he said tightness). I suppose the good news – go you Westy – I that Saunders I not being showcased for a trade, more than likely. Whatever “showcased” might mean after 3+ seasons of scouts watching him.

    Just take it at face value. Tight hammy, but not too tight to hit and then run the bases. Maybe he was just trotting. Don’t know – didn’t see it. Nobody else did either. The game did not even warrant its own thread. Maybe it never happened.

  44. msfanmike on July 28th, 2013 11:27 am




    Good thing none of it might have ever happened. Time for a phone keyboard upgrade, though.

  45. Westside guy on July 28th, 2013 12:02 pm

    Hehe, Autocorrect is great… except when it isn’t.

    One weird thing is, when I’m on my regular computer, I find myself expecting autocorrect to happen – which of course it doesn’t. So I end up having to go back and add all the punctuation and capitalization by hand.

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