Game 28, Mariners at Astros

marc w · May 3, 2014 at 11:26 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma (!) vs. Dallas Keuchel, 1:10pm

Great to see Iwakuma return to the big club; the M’s got very solid starting pitching from the fill-ins while Iwakuma (and then James Paxton) was out, but this offense needs some help if they’re going to contend. The M’s aren’t going to slug their way to 81 wins unless something changes fairly dramatically. Adding an elite pitcher is still going to help their chances, though. Iwakuma wasn’t throwing any splitters in his simulated game, and apparently used it very sparingly in his rehab start with Tacoma, but it’s obviously an important pitch for him. I think that’s the most important thing to look for today: is he able to get the same sharp break on it, or will the pressure it puts on his finger noticeably alter the pitch?

Dallas Keuchel. I’ve said before that his name sounds like some sort of regional dessert, so now we need to figure out what a “Dallas Keuchel” should be. A blueberry danish, battered and deep fried, then drizzled with honey.

Keuchel’s had a solid year, and Adam Lewis hints at one reason why: he dropped his big slow curve and picked up a slider (Lewis calls it a slurve) that’s on a similar plane as his change-up. The curve ball was apparently easy for batters to identify, as they hit .370 off of it and posted a better-than-.600 slugging percentage. He’ll use the slider against righties and lefties alike, so the fact that he’s had better results with it isn’t just a platoon advantage artifact. Keuchel’s K rate is up a bit this year, but fundamentally, he’s a ground-ball guy with a good sinker and a sinking change-up. The change is an important pitch for him – he only throws it to righties, but it gets swinging strikes and ground balls. Keuchel’s struggled against righties in his career, as you might expect from a sinker/slider pitcher throwing 90mph, so developing the change-up – and disguising it with his slurve – has been critical to Keuchel’s improvement.

1: Saunders, CF
2: Romero, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Gillespie, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Zunino, C
SP: Iwakuma

The story of the game last night was the bullpen usage, as McClendon went to Yoervis Medina in the 8th, up a run, instead of turning to Danny Farquhar (who eventually did pitch the 9th and 10th). I mentioned it on twitter last night, but in terms of leverage index – who pitches the most important innings – Farquhar’s clearly the 5th righty in the pen, and essentially the #7 guy overall. The bullpen has 7 pitchers. With Luetge’s demotion (to make room for Iwakuma), Farquhar’s got the lowest leverage index upon entering the game (gmLI) on the team. And it’s not even close – Medina and especially Wilhelmsen are the righty set-up men, with Furbush also getting important innings. Dom Leone’s a step behind those two righties, and Rodney’s obviously the closer. That means Farquhar’s pitched some garbage time innings. He got some important innings last night, but it’s not just hindsight that makes the M’s usage look odd.

The Angels are in some tough negotiations with the city of Anaheim over the lease on Angels stadium. To get some leverage, or just to explore all of their options, the Angels have approached other cities in Orange County to talk about a new development. The A’s are famous for trying to get out of their mixed-use facility and into Fremont; it’s kind of odd to see the Angels -the team with an owner willing to spend lavishly and refurbished baseball-only park – thinking about a similar move.


87 Responses to “Game 28, Mariners at Astros”

  1. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 12:00 pm

    FREE THE CONDO… oh, looky there.

  2. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 12:36 pm

    The “free the Condor” campaign seems to be working; now we need a “free Farquhar” campaign.

    McClendon doesn’t seem demonstrably worse to me than other recent M’s managers, but the Almonte-not-Saunders experiment lasted way too long, and the anybody-but-Farquhar approach was mystifying from day one. This organization is very slow to adapt. It’s frustrating.

    By the way, I really believe that Farquhar only got important innings last night because it is a time-honored tradition to put “whoever we’ve got” in to pitch late in a tie game.

  3. Typical Idiot Fan on May 3rd, 2014 1:07 pm

    Angels should have thought of that shit before getting a new RSN deal. What are they going to do, move to Irvine and farther away from Los Angeles?

    I’m fairly sure Anaheim can call their bluff.

  4. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 1:12 pm

    Did Saunders think he was Ichiro there?

  5. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:13 pm

    McLendon sez “bunting’s not what a real player does, Saunders!”

    I kid, I kid…

  6. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 1:15 pm

    Keuchel with a six pitch first inning.

  7. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:18 pm

    Not that we don’t already make these guys look like all stars… but I could see Houston being a decent team in a couple years.

  8. Longgeorge1 on May 3rd, 2014 1:20 pm

    The Almonte experience may have lasted too long, but let’s face it the alternative is in CF today, a five tool, five year replacement level performer. Sometimes the unknown is more attractive than what is known. I don’t blame McLendon for giving it a go, after all it is not that long ago the screams were for Saunders’ head on the platter.

  9. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:25 pm

    You have to weight recent performance more heavily – and over the last two full seasons Saunders has been a league-average hitter. If you break the seasons into halves, he’s been above average in all but the one where he injured his shoulder.

    He’s not an ideal center fielder. I’d rather have a true CF and see Saunders in right, where by all accounts he is well above average. But given the roster we have, he’s probably the best option for CF available (which is an indictment of Zduriencik’s roster building).

  10. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:34 pm

    Nice swing by Smoak!

  11. jak924 on May 3rd, 2014 1:34 pm

    For the 3rd time, Dave Sims has expressed his displeasure that the stadium roof is closed. For the love of God, get over it.

  12. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:44 pm

    For what it’s worth – my main complaint regarding how Almonte was handled was Lloyd seemed intent on forcing something that wasn’t there (at least not yet). Almonte should’ve been moved down in the order some time ago… treated the same way Mac treated any other struggling young player. And he probably should’ve been given a few breaks along he way. I feel like the way Abe was handled was setting him up for failure.

    Nice reaction play by Seager there!

  13. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:51 pm

    Blowers just said Saunders is fighting the same flu bug Felix has.

    … and right on cue, he gets a hit.

  14. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 1:54 pm

    I will concede that Almonte is not a complete disaster. He may actually be the 2nd best outfielder on the team (so sad), but I think he led off too long, and Saunders should be out there every day. The best lineup might be Almonte in center, Saunders in right.

  15. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 1:58 pm


  16. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 2:34 pm

    Nice hit by Romero! It’d be nicer if these guys could string two hits together…

    Yeah, way to go Cano!

  17. Longgeorge1 on May 3rd, 2014 2:41 pm

    Not trying to say that Almonte was anything but a failure just that the option is Saunders and not Trout and was worth a shot. Just as when I see a guy hitting .222 and not even tying to beat the infield shift. Try something different, you’re losing playing the way you are playing. Good hitters use the whole field unless they are named Ted Williams.

  18. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 2:54 pm

    Nobody knows how to bunt.

  19. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 2:54 pm

    I don’t like this bunt call.

  20. djw on May 3rd, 2014 2:58 pm

    Nice to see the team taking walks. Memo to management: THIS IS A GOOD THING

  21. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 2:58 pm

    Miller just failed his way into doing something good right there.

    (…that doesn’t usually break that way for the M’s. Let’s hope it pays off!)

  22. CAMariner on May 3rd, 2014 3:00 pm

    I’m streaming the game, but as they were cutting away to commercial, I got a nice laugh out of Dave saying “Boy, was he pissed!”

  23. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:02 pm

    Wow, Zunino took a walk!?

  24. juneau_fan on May 3rd, 2014 3:03 pm

    Thank goodness for playing bad teams.

  25. djw on May 3rd, 2014 3:03 pm

    Nice work Saunders!

  26. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 3:03 pm

    Well, look at that!

  27. Section329 on May 3rd, 2014 3:03 pm


  28. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:03 pm

    All right Condor!

  29. Jay R. on May 3rd, 2014 3:04 pm

    God I am sick of hearing Blowers bray about ‘being aggressive’. How about just hitting good pitches whenever they come, and not forcing things?

  30. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:05 pm

    Wow, Romero is showing something at the plate today too!

  31. The_Waco_Kid on May 3rd, 2014 3:06 pm

    Good day for Saunders!

  32. Sea-Dog on May 3rd, 2014 3:09 pm

    God, even when things are going great the Mariners have to throw a wrench in it by making a base running mistake. Thrown out at third…really?

  33. djw on May 3rd, 2014 3:09 pm

    This five run inning is based on a foundation of non-agressiveness.

  34. juneau_fan on May 3rd, 2014 3:13 pm

    Uh, good time for me to remember the game was on.

  35. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 3:14 pm

    Maybe Lloyd should kick himself out of more games?

  36. WalterNeff on May 3rd, 2014 3:18 pm

    Can someone explain why he was tossed – I can’t hear the game in the pub I’m in

  37. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 3:18 pm

    For at least one inning, the Astros looked like the last-place team they are supposed to be. Nice to see the Mariners take advantage.

  38. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:19 pm

    Darn, I missed Smoak’s bomb!

    Walter, I don’t think they really know – I’ve only heard puzzlement from the broadcasters.

  39. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 3:27 pm

    Iwakuma wasn’t really dominant today, but it sure is a relief to have him back and looking healthy.

  40. juneau_fan on May 3rd, 2014 3:28 pm


  41. Kazinski on May 3rd, 2014 3:29 pm

    Let’s not make this interesting.

  42. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 3:30 pm


    The Astros were using various stalling tactics to try to get a reliever ready…and Lloyd went out to yell at the umps for letting the “catcher visits the mound” conversation go to long.

    He was rather heated–but I didn’t see him get run.

    That’s as good of a guess as any.

    MEANWHILE…in a shocker of all shockers, the M’s bullpen is trying its best to give it all back!

  43. Section329 on May 3rd, 2014 3:35 pm

    This looks so familiar.

  44. jak924 on May 3rd, 2014 3:36 pm

    So how long does it take the acting manager to figure out Leone doesn’t have it today?

  45. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 3:37 pm

    Mariners return the favor by showing why they are the fourth-place team that they are…

  46. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 3:38 pm

    Can’t we just play normal baseball like a lot of the good teams do? How can we struggle against the Astros and Marlins? Embarrassing to say the least.

  47. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:43 pm

    That was a very nice throw by Zunino a minute ago.

  48. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:45 pm

    Wow – maybe Saunders is rubbing off on Zunino.

    He’d only walked once prior to today.

  49. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 3:49 pm

    Romero looks like he could be Jesus Montero’s (much thinner) kid brother!

  50. djw on May 3rd, 2014 4:04 pm

    This is a grim bit of business.

  51. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:04 pm

    WE are going to lose this game. How horrible and demoralizing

  52. stevemotivateir on May 3rd, 2014 4:05 pm

    Why is Medina still in?

  53. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:05 pm

    Not a 4 out save attempt. 3 outs punish us enough Fernando!!

  54. msfanmike on May 3rd, 2014 4:06 pm

    Not using Farquar last night – when he should have been used – has resulted in him not being available today. Lloyd may get a two for one Medina special out of yesterdays decision.

  55. Kazinski on May 3rd, 2014 4:07 pm

    I’ve seen as much as I want to see of Medina for a while.

  56. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 4:07 pm

    Oh, if only we had a fresh arm in the bullpen…

  57. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:07 pm

    Wow our bullpen sucks. I cant watch this anymore. Came in from rototilling the garden and adding 1 ton of horse manure. Came in to watch Horse Shit Baseball by the M’s.

  58. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 4:08 pm

    Who puts a freaking hill PLUS a flagpole in center field?

  59. stevemotivateir on May 3rd, 2014 4:08 pm

    Well that makes sense, Mike!

  60. djw on May 3rd, 2014 4:09 pm

    Is anyone persuaded that Medina should be pitching in high leverage situations?

  61. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 4:10 pm

    Oh man…

  62. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:10 pm

    How in the world does anyone blow a 9-2 lead to the AAAA Astros? Incredible.

  63. Section329 on May 3rd, 2014 4:10 pm

    I can’t stand it anymore !

  64. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:12 pm

    Lloyd needs to take some of the blame for this debacle. He screwed the pooch yesterday and it has boiled over today. Oh the pain of being an M’s fan.

  65. nvn8vbryce on May 3rd, 2014 4:12 pm

    Eastside, think about it: you have unlimited bull shit coming from the bullpen… Perhaps we need a way to bag and sell it… Call it the Mariners Way Manure?

  66. Kazinski on May 3rd, 2014 4:12 pm

    There’s not much alternative but bringing in Rodney with the bases loaded is not ideal

  67. Giant Squid on May 3rd, 2014 4:12 pm

    When the bullpen is blowing a massive lead, you turn to the steady hand of Fernando Rodney.

  68. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:17 pm

    Im about to go back to shoveling shit. Way more relaxing.

  69. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 4:17 pm

    Breathe… Breathe…

  70. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 4:28 pm

    The Rodney Experience is ON.

  71. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:29 pm

    Need a ground ball to Seager here

  72. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:31 pm

    That was a Mariner swing. Thank god

  73. tmesis on May 3rd, 2014 4:33 pm

    The angels said: “Ball four”. The batter didn’t listen.

  74. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:34 pm

    Great movement on that pitch and a great frame

  75. pgreyy on May 3rd, 2014 4:36 pm


  76. Eastside Suds on May 3rd, 2014 4:36 pm

    Whew…..back to the Garden. Go M’s

  77. Section329 on May 3rd, 2014 4:36 pm

    Ugly win.

  78. msfanmike on May 3rd, 2014 4:36 pm

    Nothing to it. Piece of cake.

  79. Westside guy on May 3rd, 2014 4:36 pm


  80. Ichirolling51 on May 3rd, 2014 4:47 pm

    Someone please explain to me why the f**k Medina is pitching the 8th for this team over Farquar? Medina sucks, not only should he not be pitching the 8th but he should not be pitching for the Mariners. We should send him to Tacoma and bring up Pryor, or Smith. Anyone know if Pryor is fully healthy, and pitching well in AAA? I haven’t been keeping close tabs on it.

    Glad we won, but I’m getting sick and tired of plugging in my heart monitor every time we turn the game over to the bullpen. I’ve spotted 3 more gray hairs in my head today, and I’m only 27. This team will be the death of me, the death of me I tell ya!

  81. Dennisss on May 3rd, 2014 5:02 pm

    Farquhar wasn’t available today, but I’m thinking that, like Saunders, he may end up being the guy they turn to by default.

    Let’s try Wilhelmsen – fail! Medina – fail! Furbush -don’t think so. Hey how about the guy WHO WAS A GOOD CLOSER LAST YEAR! Let’s give him a shot.

  82. evolvingcaveman on May 3rd, 2014 5:27 pm

    Lloyd has shown some real stubbornness concerning both those guys and his critical attitude toward Saunders play seems a little odd. All is forgiven if he actually learns from it and doesn’t bury them on the bench after their first cold streak.

  83. MrZDevotee on May 3rd, 2014 10:52 pm

    Wow, the Heartbreak Kids come through… And heart medication sales are off the charts in Seattle.

    Just had to share this bizarreness I stumbled upon–

    Mike Morse this year with SF:
    90 AB’s, 6 Dbls, 7 HR’s, a .311 avg, .968 OPS, 178 OPS+

    WTF? Who did we sign last year?

    Oh wait, there he is… This year with the Giants, 27 games in LF, -19 Total Zone Rating

    Wow, in both directions. (laugh)

  84. LongDistance on May 4th, 2014 12:57 am

    Z: I saw someone putting this down to a sort of Swan Song for Morse. I don’t think so. He just had the luck to be traded off to a better team (how hard was that to accomplish?). And I mean better in the sense that they don’t have a huge backlog of doubt and disappointment laying beneath everything like quicksand.

    We all know it’s not just the acquisition of players, but confidence.

    Things, at least, are interesting. We’re right now looking at a knife-edge team, teetertottering across win/loss. They don’t have a team that has “win” written all over it, but they can win, regardless of how ugly.

    Last year, it was just ugly.

  85. jak924 on May 4th, 2014 8:55 am

    Corey Hart is the new Jason Bay.

  86. 11records on May 4th, 2014 8:56 am

    Z: Check Morse’s splits from last year. He had 8 HR thru Mar/April, and an OPS of .800 with a .245 BABIP. This year thru the end of April he was carrying a .932 OPS with 6HR and a .345 BABIP. And, he does have a couple of bombs already in May pushing his numbers higher.

    The thing is, as you referenced – the defense. Good God the defense, and – he seems to inevitably get injured. I like the guy, and hope he stays healthy all season. But history doesn’t show that to be likely.

  87. MrZDevotee on May 4th, 2014 9:24 am


    Did you see the -19 runs on defense, in 27 games? Confidence can’t make him a better fielder. Morse in the NL is at best a zero sum player. At worst, he’s Mike Morse.

    And like 11records points out– with similar offensive numbers last season thru April, it seems he’s only decent till the first pull/snap/sproing/tear to his body, and then the fade starts…

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