Game 43, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · May 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Colby Lewis, 5:05pm

The M’s and Rangers are separated by a half-game in the standings, and while things like games-behind don’t mean everything at this point, the M’s really do need to stick around Texas in the next month or two. Like the M’s, the Rangers rotation was plagued with injuries, as Derek Holland’s still out, Martin Perez joined the TJ club, and it’s not at all clear that Matt Harrison will pitch again, ever. Like the M’s, they committed a lot of money to a proven offensive weapon, and have watched said weapon disappoint. The Rangers were probably a better team, on paper, on opening day, but it was very close. The Rangers have had essentially everything go wrong, and they’re still essentially at or near .500. The M’s have had a lot go wrong, and they too are essentially a .500 team.

What you do with this set of selective similarities probably says a lot about your relationship with the M’s. The pessimists would say that the M’s can’t separate themselves from the Rangers even when half the team comes down with Bubonic plague, and they’re turning to Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez in their rotation. Optimists would say that the M’s version of Nick Martinez is names Roenis Elias, and Elias is likely better. That Robinson Cano’s a very good player, and that many fans saw Prince Fielder as a declining, limited player whose reputation (and salary) outstripped his actual production. Both views are justifiable, of course. The Rangers turned to Josh Wilson for a good chunk of April. Their opening day starter was a converted 7th inning reliever. But think back to what we all said on opening day – with Iwakuma and Walker out, the M’s just needed to stay close to .500 and make a run in the second half. With the news that James Paxton’s close to making a rehab start in the minors, hasn’t this condition been met?

It has, but there’s a problem; there’s ALWAYS a problem, it’d seem. The offense has struggled, and instead of getting key contributions from the likes of Stefen Romero, the M’s OF still ranks 25th offensively in baseball (though 19th overall! Silver linings!). Worse, the M’s found a *new* hole, as their shortstops rank dead last offensively. The fact that they’re hanging with the Rangers is encouraging as far as it goes, but the A’s have already left them in the dust, and the Angels look solid (except when facing the M’s, oddly). The M’s playoff chances (er, wild card chances) are still large enough to care about, but that’s in part due to the parity in the AL East and the ineptitude of the AL Central. All of this means that the M’s position vis a vis the Rangers, and to a lesser extent the Royals/Orioles/Rays/Jays could get important. This is the situation the Wild Card was supposed to create – that even a team in 3rd had some sort of hope. Well, the M’s have some. Now they’ve got to keep it alive.

Colby Lewis has quietly put up his best K rate since 2010, and has a brilliant K-BB%. But as a flyballer in Arlington, his actual runs allowed don’t look like it. A BABIP over .400 will do that, of course, but some of that may be the result of a shaky defense as Jurickson Profar, Adrian Beltre and others spent time on the DL. Lewis traditionally had problems with lefties, and he still does, though this year it’s righties that have hurt him. He’s a fastball/slider guy to righties, and he’s a fastball/sinker/change/slider/etc. guy to lefties.

As Jeff noted, Nick Franklin’s been recalled, and he’ll start today at DH. In the minors, he’s moved to the OF in the past week, playing a game in RF and one in LF. We’ll see if he gets some time in RF, or if he’ll bounce around the diamond.

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

EIGHT lefties. Pretty good line-up against Lewis.

Still can’t believe the M’s lost Corey Hart on a stolen base.

Jimmy Gilheeney starts for Tacoma as they open up a homestand against Reno. Lars Huijer gets the ball for Clinton in Peoria.

Comments

78 Responses to “Game 43, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. absolutsyd on May 20th, 2014 5:07 pm

    .297/.320/.458 is disappointing?

  2. Kazinski on May 20th, 2014 5:20 pm

    The M’s OF offense was 29th in April, but 12th (9th overall)in May. That coincides almost exactly with the end of Almonte, Saunders starting to play every day, and the arrival of James Jones. And of course Ackley’s 3 homer weekend.

  3. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 5:23 pm

    Hell of a nice play by Saunders!!!

    It’s good to have wheels – and at least two good gloves out there.

  4. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 5:28 pm

    I am sure that most everyone has heard by now that Drew has re-signed with Boston for the pro-rated share of the 2014 qualifying offer.

    Precedent set for a Kendrys re-signing? I don’t think he is worth $10M for the remainder of the season, but the team did budget for $8M of incentives for Hart on top of his $6M base … And Lloyd did say, “we need a DH and currently don’t have one.”

    Time will tell … And it will likely tell something pretty soon.

  5. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Nick, what the heck?

  6. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Man, a lot of left fielders could have thrown Franklin out on that play … And Choo has a great arm.

    Gave away an out.

  7. Paul B on May 20th, 2014 5:39 pm

    I miss Beltre.

  8. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 5:45 pm

    Nice!

    A bloop – a bunt – and a soft line drive. BABIP God returneth in the Mariners favor.

    Sweet bunt by Jones, though. Well executed.

  9. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 5:50 pm

    There’s a lot to like about Jones-Saunders hitting 1-2. It’s like a lesser version of what Ichiro-Figgins was supposed to be, except Saunders is hitting.

  10. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 5:52 pm

    Nice bloop single by Kyle there, followed by some heads up Mariners’ baserunning for once!

  11. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 6:10 pm

    If Jones had moved the runner over, that fly all by Saunders would have scored a run. Need a 2-out hit, now.

    Dang it!

  12. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 6:11 pm

    Got the right guy up to make it happen, though.

  13. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 6:12 pm

    Atta boy, Cano.

    Clutch!

    Sorry, I am going with “clutch.”

  14. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:21 pm

    Every M has made it on base already. Impressed.

  15. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 6:26 pm

    Freaking Rios. Is that guy due to become a free agent anytime soon?

  16. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:28 pm

    Nice DP!

  17. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:31 pm

    Nick is getting it done.

  18. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 6:32 pm

    Swing, Ackley !!!!!!!!

    Swing!!!!!!!!

  19. Kazinski on May 20th, 2014 6:33 pm

    Even Miller has a hit and a walk so far. I hope he can keep it going.

  20. Paul B on May 20th, 2014 6:35 pm

    Strange story out of Albuquerque. Miguel Olivo attacked a team mate, bit his ear.

  21. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:36 pm

    SB with two outs. Nick has the adrenaline going and is not risk averse today.

  22. Jake on May 20th, 2014 6:37 pm

    And Tom will show you how to smoke green…

  23. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:37 pm

    Nick flied out like he thought there was only one out.

  24. The_Waco_Kid on May 20th, 2014 6:39 pm

    Franklin wants to play! Also, I thought at the time they gave Almonte a long leash, but now I think of him as being sent down quickly, relatively to Miller. They must really believe in Miller, or think Franklin’s a terrible SS.

  25. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:41 pm

    So when is Morrison likely back. As I stated before the very start of the season I’d rather see the young guys play, even if losing, rather than just get mediocre results with Hart and/or Morrison in the line-up. Can’t buy love in Seattle you’re a MLB baseball team. Have to earn it the old fashioned way.

  26. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:43 pm

    Ouch…meant to say: “MILLER flied out like he thought there was only one out”. Nevermind.

  27. HighlightsAt11 on May 20th, 2014 6:46 pm

    I suspect Taylor would have been called up by not had he not become injured. Would love to see Miller turn it around and Franklin keep hitting the ball. Even hoping for Montero to get it together. Just want to see these young men develop.

  28. The_Waco_Kid on May 20th, 2014 6:49 pm

    “No, Miguel! TOO gritty!”

  29. Jake on May 20th, 2014 7:03 pm

    Big deal, we’ve been saying for years that Miguel Olivo bites.

  30. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 7:07 pm

    I always feel good when Seager is hitting the ball. It’s a beautiful thing that I would like to see more of.

  31. Paul B on May 20th, 2014 7:14 pm

    Woo hoo score from first!

  32. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 7:25 pm

    Haha, that story is at the top of Google search results for “Miguel Olivo”.

    Apparently they’re doing emergency plastic surgery on Guererro’s ear.

  33. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2014 7:29 pm

    I wonder if McClendon will rotate the DH while Hart’s out. That would make some sense.

  34. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 7:30 pm

    Two pitches – two outs.

    Not textbook offense.

  35. msfanmike on May 20th, 2014 7:33 pm

    Bit a part of a guys ear off!?

    Wow – that’s certainly something.

  36. juneau_fan on May 20th, 2014 7:42 pm

    Nothing like coming in at the end of the game. Uh, what about an ear being bitten off? Huh?

    (Not expecting an answer. I can google)

  37. Section329 on May 20th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Olivo is pathetic. So was our manager who played him instead Jaso.

  38. Paul B on May 20th, 2014 7:50 pm

    Steve, the DH will change, at least until or unless Morrison comes back.

    Franklin will probably move around. They will use Cano as DH once in awhile. Probably one of the outfielders most days.

  39. juneau_fan on May 20th, 2014 7:57 pm

    Who’d get the piece of ear put back on? You’re a baseball player. Show some grit! And you’ve got a story for the rest of your career.

  40. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2014 7:59 pm

    Oh, I expect some kind of rotation. I just wonder if he’ll rotate everyone off the field, or if he’ll focus on getting Franklin as many AB’s as possible.

    I should have been more clear.

  41. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 8:01 pm

    After hearing the news, Willie Bloomquist begged Mike Zunino to bite off his ear.

  42. Section329 on May 20th, 2014 8:01 pm

    Oh I love Beltre appealing his own check swing.

  43. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 8:03 pm

    Woo hoo!

  44. bookbook on May 20th, 2014 8:06 pm

    So, is Olivo going to jail?

  45. Westside guy on May 20th, 2014 8:26 pm

    Apparently the police have visited Guererro in the hospital but he wants to confer with an attorney before filing a report.

    Sounds like the whole situation is quite a mess.

  46. Woodcutta on May 21st, 2014 3:09 am

    Whew! That could have been Franklin’s ear.

  47. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 12:10 pm

    Nice hitting by Saunders.

  48. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 12:13 pm

    Woo Hoo! Cano goes yard!

  49. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 12:14 pm

    Yes indeed. Such an effortless stroke to hit that thing 400+.

  50. californiamariner on May 21st, 2014 12:17 pm

    Cano! He only hits them in Texas I guess

  51. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 12:27 pm

    Commenting on Game 45 within the Game 43 (should have been 44) Game Thread.

    Stat based Site.

    Precision.

    I love it.

  52. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 12:28 pm

    Wow, how often do you see Adrian Beltre make a bad throw?

    Mike, I remember years ago seeing a sign for an shop named “Precision Auto Repair” – except their sign said

    Percision Auto Repair

  53. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 12:44 pm

    I remember that place … they also sold drums.

    Special Percision Percussion instruments.

  54. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 12:47 pm

    A friend of mine was visiting family in North Carolina years ago. A sign on the Highway read:

    “We gots chicken”

    Take exit 44

  55. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 12:57 pm

    hehe

  56. jak924 on May 21st, 2014 1:01 pm

    Does Smoak have a hole in his bat?

  57. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 1:11 pm

    Why not let Bloomquist hit there, given he’s the only one who can play SS without losing the DH? It’s not like Romero is better than Willie (damning with faint praise).

  58. kfrei2 on May 21st, 2014 1:12 pm

    Damn it! That’s the one thing Romero could not do!

  59. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 1:14 pm

    Actually, this year Bloomquist IS as bad as Romero… maybe worse.

    I retract my criticism.

    Willie’s OPS is .396 (wRC+ is 4)!

  60. GP20 on May 21st, 2014 1:26 pm

    Surprised that Justin Leone has the lowest ERA out of our bullpen. Does he look like he has the make-up to be a closer in the near future? (can’t wait for Fernando Mesa to go away)

  61. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 1:29 pm

    I think it was stupid to have one of the team’s better hitters bunt in that situation.

  62. bookbook on May 21st, 2014 1:30 pm

    I think it was stupid to bunt there. Yes.

  63. kfrei2 on May 21st, 2014 1:31 pm

    I hate bunting! I hate it! There are only a handful of situations where it makes sense. That was not one of them. Stop giving away outs. Especially with one of our hottest hitters.

  64. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 1:32 pm

    Wow, this ump’s zone is pretty wide.

  65. Dennisss on May 21st, 2014 1:33 pm

    The umpire took over this half of the inning,

  66. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 1:33 pm

    Tired of this lefty strike nonsense.

  67. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 1:49 pm

    Umpires have to work the “inside” gap between the catcher and the batter, so they are always going to be getting a slightly angled view of the ball crossing the outside corner. They can’t stand directly above the middle of the plate – or too many low pitches would be missed. Although, that would be the best place to be positioned for seeing both corners of the plate during any given at bat.

    I can’t understand why so many outside and/or outside corner pitches are missed to LHB’s as opposed to RHB’s, but it seems to be an epidemic.

    It also makes me wonder how many I used to miss when I umpired. It was tougher to “work inside” with a left-handed batter because they were more the exception than the rule in high school/college, but that isn’t the case in the Major Leagues. Whatever it is that is going on with the “lefty strike” in the Major Leagues is vexxing and bewildering.

  68. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 1:57 pm

    I think Dave or Jeff wrote about it but it does have to do with the angles you are speaking of. The problem is that the umpires at the Major League level should be better at not calling them strikes because they are better trained to see it and are aware of the illusion, for lack of a better word, that is created by the lefty-lefty match-up.

  69. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 1:59 pm

    too many low pitches would be missed because the catchers head/helmet would be in the way … in case anybody is wondering about this particular Game 43/44/45 and hopefully not 46 Gamethread comment.

  70. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 2:02 pm

    I agree with you Jason. It’s hard to understand.

    Sometimes a lefty pitcher working from the extreme 1B side of the rubber can “fool you” on a pitch that appears to “sweep” the outside corner to a LH hitter … but that is why an umpire is supposed to bear down and get a clear view and not anticipate the call.

    It looked like the umpire did not call a couple outside pitches to Ackley during that last AB – that he had called strikes earlier in the game.

    There’s a lot more going on back behind that catcher than you might think, and it is easy to lose focus once in a while or to be fooled once in a while, but there have been so many silly “lefty strikes” called this year that it is disgusting.

    Just disgusting.

    This is the big leagues … the pitchers don’t need any “help.”

  71. Dennisss on May 21st, 2014 2:07 pm

    This team looks better now with Jones instead of Almonte, and Iwakuma back, but to make the playoffs, they are going to have to count on Walker and Paxton coming back and being awesome, and that’s a lot to hope for. They can’t hit their way to 90 wins.

  72. Dennisss on May 21st, 2014 2:12 pm

    Msfan, just to clarify a little bit, the pitch to Cano was a little outside but arguably low as well, and the pitch to Seager was just a mistake, outside at least 6 inches beyond the usual lefty strike.

    You can only complain about umpires so much, but the Cano at-bat was critical.

  73. msfanmike on May 21st, 2014 2:25 pm

    Copy, Dennisss

    My comments about the “epidemic” were in regard to the last couple seasons in aggregate. Since I used to umpire, I try not to complain about the umpiring as a matter of routine.

    But yes, the Cano AB was a critical part of today’s game and it was a bad time for the umpire to miss pitches. It entirely changed the complexion of the inning. The Rangers were pitching around Cano during that AB and were rewarded with two gift ball/strike calls. And the strike call on Seager was just comical.

  74. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 3:10 pm

    The lefty-strike gets called for both teams so it’s not a disadvantage in the sense that one team should benefit more than another over the course of a season, but in a one-game sample it can certainly give one team an advantage over another if it’s a high-leverage at bat.

    My frustration with the lefty strike is simply that it appears like it’s accepted, due to human error, that lefty on lefty match-ups automatically grant upwards of an additional 6 inches to the strike zone.

    It’s nothing personal against umpires but the lefty strike seems like a broken part of the game and that bothers me.

  75. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 3:25 pm

    Jason Churchill tweeted a picture of today’s strike zone. It included the generally-called “lefty strike”. A bunch of today’s calls were well outside even that expanded zone.

  76. Westside guy on May 21st, 2014 4:20 pm

    Here was Churchill’s tweet:

    Here is the strikezone plot v LHB for M's-Rangers today: pic.twitter.com/RYgqoP2Z11— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) May 21, 2014

    Although I’m now on a larger screen and notice that only ONE of the strikes was “well outside the lefty zone”. Not that a lefty zone should exist…

  77. Woodcutta on May 21st, 2014 5:15 pm

    The problem with the “lefty zone” and when an umpire starts calling pitches way outside the strike zone strikes is that the hitter has to adjust which means they start swinging at complete garbage to avoid the umpire calling them out on strikes. This actually may be one of the reasons there are more strikeouts in general than in previous generations.

  78. JasonJ on May 21st, 2014 5:23 pm

    For sure. After the ump called the strike on Cano that was a “lefty strike” he swung at a pitch 10 inches off the plate for strike 3 because he was on the defensive. It was smart pitching by Cotts but it’s basically just exploiting a loophole that shouldn’t exist. It’s ridiculous.

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