Game 23, Rangers at Mariners
King Felix vs. Colby Lewis, 6:10pm
Happy Felix Day!
Sort of odd that it took Justin Smoak of all people to help pull us off the ledge, even as Fernando Rodney tried to shove us closer. The M’s desperately needed a few wins, and they got them, albeit barely.
I saw several Felix jerseys today at the Sounders game; to those about to pull a personal double-header, I hereby salute you.
Lewis has been better than I would’ve expected, especially early on. He’s been a bit unlucky, thanks to a sky-high BABIP – which, come to think of it, is pretty hard to do for a guy who gets so many fly outs. That said, his platoon splits – which were always something of an issue – have widened, hence the M’s lefty-heavy line-up. I’m still struck by Lewis’ ability to avoid the HR problems that plague Blake Beavan (and Erasmo Ramirez) while throwing 89mph fastballs in the zone. As he’s lost some zip on his slider, and as managers stack their line-ups with more lefties, he’s naturally getting fewer K’s. But he’s simply stopped walking anyone to compensate. That sounds good in practice, but I’m just not sure how he can do it without HR/9 rates approaching 2. Whatever he’s doing, Blake Beavan, would love to know how to do it too.
1: Saunders, RF, Holy Crap
2: Almonte, CF, awww, never mind
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
SP: El Rey
I wondered if the M’s might have been trying to stack their line-up with fly-ball hitters against the groundballing Robbie Ross, but if they were, it obviously didn’t matter. Here’s to Neal Cotts for bailing them out with one of the worst half-innings vs. the M’s in recent memory, though to be fair, it would essentially IDENTICAL to Rodney’s if Smoak hadn’t flown to his left to snare that line drive. The M’s are really, really struggling against ground-ball pitchers, and while a good chunk of that is two games against Ross, the problem looks like it runs deeper than that. It’s not an issue tonight, but it’s something to keep an eye on over the course of the year.