Game 116, Brewers at Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Tom Gorzelanny, 6:10pm
Happy Griffey Day. The M’s are honoring Ken Griffey Jr. today by inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame, which is an idea Griffey made possible, or at least not completely laughable. For those that remember 1989* – the double, the HR in his first Kingdome AB, the chocalate bars (I’ve still got one), the impossible ease with which he did everything (hitting, fielding, talking to strange old men in the press, smiling) is still imprinted on your mind. There are a number of reasons his exit(s) weren’t ripped from fairy-tale style children’s sports books, but an underrated one is that many people never really came to grips with the fact that he’s human. Our first impression was this impossible combination of homespun gee-whizishness overlaid on some futuristic cyborg skeleton. How can that – I mean he- feel depressed? Why does he want to talk about money? Junior deserves this. Some times, the rhetoric about the team not being in Seattle if it weren’t for him can get a bit overblown, but I seriously doubt they’d be holding this ceremony in Safeco Field without Junior.
I’m going to go from talking about Ken Griffey Jr. to talking about Tom Gorzelanny, which sounds bizarre and wrong, and which is also not Gorzelanny’s fault. No one grew up mimicking Tom Gorzelanny’s wind-up. The ex-Pirate and National is making his seventh start, as he doubles as a swing man and a very effective lefty reliever. The sinker/slider combo’s the centerpiece of his repertoire, but he’s also got a change that he throws to righties. He struggled against righties in the rotation, but he’s been effective in the bullpen. His put-away pitch is the slider, which he throws to righties and lefties alike, at least when ahead in the count. Like a lot of pitchers, he’ll use a four-seamer to same-handed hitters, but stick to the sinker against opposite-handed hitters; this isn’t unique, but it seems counterproductive, given the platoon splits of two-seam/sinking fastballs. Hey, he’s the pitcher, and I’m just the guy hanging on to a 25 year old candy bar with a picture of a teenager on it.
Beyond trouble with righties, Gorzelanny struggled with his command as a starter. It wasn’t awful, but he threw a fair number of balls, and so-so stuff and slightly below average control meant that he was pitching from behind more than average. If fly balls stayed in the yard, or if he got out of trouble with a groundball, he’d look OK. If the fly balls crept over the fence, and if batters stopped swinging at low 3-1 sinkers, his walk rate would spike and, well, that’s why he’s a reliever now. And this year, for the first time in his career, he’s pitching from ahead in the count, enabling him to use his best pitch more. A lefty starter who throws sliders like they’re going to be banned in a month sounds like a terrible match up, but it’s only his seventh start, and his last start lasted all of one inning before he came out with elbow issues. Work counts, Mariners. Or honor Griffey by peppering the cafe in right field; that’d work too.
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Morse, RF
6: Saunders, CF
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Ackley, :sigh:
9: Quintero, C
Griffey’s induction starts at 5:30pm, and the M’s are streaming it live on their website.
Whenever I think of Griffey, I think of the story from Spring Training in 2009 and of how awed Greg Halman was to be shagging flies with his childhood idol. Wish you could see this ceremony, Greg.
Taijuan Walker leads the M’s affiliates into battle today, as he starts for Tacoma against Albuquerque. Lefty Roenis Elias takes the hill for Jackson in Game 1 of a doubleheader, while Forrest Snow starts game 2. Fresh off of hanging 30 on Lancaster, High Desert gives the ball to Matt Anderson for today’s game in Adelanto.
* What a year. Junior debuts, then a few months in, the franchise trades its most famous player for a 7′ freak from Walnut Creek. Two of the most iconic, unearthly players of their generation, crossing paths for the first time in Milwaukee, one with an easy smile for everyone, the other mis-labeled a sullen, introverted jerk. It all still looked like losing, but *man* it felt different. Then, of course, the earthquake during the World Series in Oakland and about two weeks later, the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was some kind of year.