The Mariners are Now Bumming Out Other Teams

Jay Yencich · August 13, 2014 at 10:42 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

There’s always a sort of impetus to kick off these posts, something that sat us down to look and then type frantically for however many minutes and hours until, bam, front page post. Sometimes it’s just as simple as looking at a stat sheets and going “wull, that’s weird” and then going from there and other times it’s something that we pick up from video observations, which are more easily repeated in the wild.

I get most of my game intake from radio, which means the perspective I get is somewhat skewed. I don’t have a TV in the same room as my computer because I might never leave otherwise, and besides, I work most of the time. But the point I’m attempting to get at here: Over the past couple of days I’ve been listening to games and have also had the privilege of visually catching some of last night’s game at a bar [with Matthew and others] and tonight’s game while at home.

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the past series on radio is there have been a few instances in which a strikeout pitch got a bit wild and got away from the catcher du jour. In many of those instances (one excludes Mune because Mune, Tolleson because WHO IS HE), I’ve heard or seen the same batters victimized by those strikeouts looking at the balls with a flat “WELP.” No running for first, just existential misery. Or, more commonly, they’re staring at the called third strike or the swing is a bail swing, defensive, reflexive, not hoping for much more than staying alive. The example I would point to is the Melky Cabrera strikeout late in today’s game, but there are others that are available as well and I’ve reviewed what pitching videos I could up to this moment.

These types of swings, I’m kind of used to seeing from the Mariners. Used to seeing Smoak or Montero or Bad Ackley take a hack or watch a bad pitch and then go stoically to the dugout (Michael Saunders doesn’t count, has need of mouth soap). I’m not used to the Mariners causing it to happen outside of Felix. But the Blue Jays are a good team. They don’t really have much pitching, but they’re the fifth best team in the American League by hitter WAR and fourth best by wRC+ and third in runs scored. Their strikeout rate only ranks tenth. And at times during this series, they’ve looked utterly demoralized, incapable of executing on what they needed to do in order to keep in it. They had twenty-seven Ks in 100 ABs. Fangraphs is telling me that they K’d in 20.7% of their ABs coming into this particular game. We outdid that mark by about a third.

This was a series with playoff implications and the Mariners, by strength of their pitching, sometimes loud hitting, and a weird outburst by Kendrys Morales, but mostly pitching, have made the Blue Jays look and act like losers. In Safeco, where the ‘Ners didn’t even have a winning record coming into the homestand. Meanwhile, the offense has done what it was supposed to do to pitchers that had middling track records, which is to say, get leads.

Consider this information over the off day, delighting in it, or applying the habituated skepticism.


24 Responses to “The Mariners are Now Bumming Out Other Teams”

  1. Westside guy on August 14th, 2014 12:26 am

    So now that Michael Saunders has two little kids, I wonder if his wife watches with the sound off? Cuz otherwise in a couple years…

    Momma Saunders: WHERE did you learn that WORD?!
    Kid Saunders: I heard daddy say it on TV. He says it a LOT!

  2. ensignofcommand on August 14th, 2014 12:37 am

    I’m always shocked when I hear people talk about how nice Canadians and Midwesterners are. My family’s from Minnesota. Every get together is exactly the same. Toothless ex-Junior hockey players drunk as hell checking each other into trees on a frozen lake.

    Peaceful bunch.

  3. Jay Yencich on August 14th, 2014 1:03 am

    So now that Michael Saunders has two little kids, I wonder if his wife watches with the sound off? Cuz otherwise in a couple years…

    Momma Saunders: WHERE did you learn that WORD?!
    Kid Saunders: I heard daddy say it on TV. He says it a LOT!

    SOLUTION: Lloyd McClendon buys the ice cream with the money gained from Michael Saunders’ contributions to The Swear Jar. EVERYBODY WINS

  4. leon0112 on August 14th, 2014 5:04 am

    At times, the Jays looked demoralized at the plate. Especially last night. They appeared to be befuddled by Mariners pitchers. And when they managed to get wood on the ball, the Mariners caught it.

    While the Mariners had much to do with this, I wonder how much the lingering effects of the 19 inning game played into it.

    The Tiger series is shaping up to be an interesting one. The Tigers are very inward focused right now. Not sure they have noticed the Mariners are hot and could move ahead of them in the wild card race.

  5. PackBob on August 14th, 2014 5:59 am

    Great observation on the Jays’ AB’s. Something seemed odd but it didn’t register until reading this article. A number of times it looked as if the Jays batters didn’t even realize that the ball was not caught. There were also some very awkward swings throughout, no matter who was pitching for the M’s.

    Will the pitching continue this good? Dave in his Fan Graphs chat didn’t think so, at least for the bullpen or Chris Young. I don’t know. The pitchers to me don’t look like they are getting lucky, which would be prime for a fall; they simply look good.

    What is more worrisome to me is that Morales getting a few hits is not that he is getting his stroke back but just ran into a few, but it will cause the M’s to keep throwing him out there even if he goes south again. He is so freaking slow that he needs to hit almost Ruthian to be worthwhile.

  6. Chris_From_Bothell on August 14th, 2014 7:11 am

    What are the chances that the M’s finish a sweep of their nearest WC rival, and are now on the road to take on their next WC rival in the standings (and hopefully have the 2nd WC all to themselves by the end of the weekend)?

    How strange is it to not only be scoreboard watching, but to be nudging toward the part of the season where we can say “they’re all important series now, just keep winning!”.

    How strange is it that the M’s will not play 2 of their most likely WC rivals again for the rest of the season after this weekend (KC and DET)?

  7. Paul B on August 14th, 2014 7:28 am

    The bullpen is bound to have some regression. We saw it the other night when Maurer couldn’t get anybody out.

  8. LongDistance on August 14th, 2014 8:31 am

    Teams that forgot to regress to the mean:

    1985. KC. Any given lineup: Brett and the 8 Dwarves. But whoah-baby pitching. I actually lost money on this.

    2006. St. Louis. Basically the definition of statistical mediocrity. Maybe because they’d been so deeply written off they had nothing to lose? I’d learned not to bet, by this time.

    2010. Giants. Crap hitting, great pitching … redux. It was like: How? What??? WHAT????

    And yet…

    Just saying.

    Loving. It.

  9. Goodbyfiggins on August 14th, 2014 9:22 am

    So nice to be wishing it was not a day off for the Ms. Been a long 13 years! If Morales can treat everyone like he does Toronto, we are in!

  10. ivan on August 14th, 2014 9:40 am

    The team ERA is now down to 2.95, according to Whatever you think of the value of ERA, that’s just scary good, and (please correct me if this is wrong)unprecedented in franchise history for this team.

  11. Longgeorge1 on August 14th, 2014 9:50 am

    The King and Kershaw – Game 7 OOMMMMMMM!

  12. Westside guy on August 14th, 2014 10:04 am

    That game would probably be scoreless through 20 innings, Longgeorge1!

  13. 11records on August 14th, 2014 10:18 am

    The thing with the pen – and we saw it both with Maurer’s problems the other night, and with Furbush last night – there’s so much depth that they’ve been able to strand each other’s runners and limit any explosions. Plus – Maurer was facing arguably the best top of a lineup in the Major Leagues.

  14. MKT on August 14th, 2014 10:46 am

    “delighting in it, or applying the habituated skepticism”

    Or both!

    According to FG and BP, the Mariners have a 44% – 51% chance of making the playoffs (including wildcard). Those do seem like reasonable estimates, but we’ve got over a decade of seeing ways in which the Ms can fall on their face in one way or another. So I have a habituated sense of impending dread.

    But that does not prevent me from delighting in the present. The Ms are right in the thick of the race, and it’s mid-August. That is real. Even if they fail at the end, it’s been a far far better season than any that we’ve seen in a long time. As Bogie said to the sadly late Lauren Bacall, “we’ll always have Paris”. And we Ms fans will always have August 2014. Hopefully September too … but habituation.

  15. djw on August 14th, 2014 10:47 am

    I’m always shocked when I hear people talk about how nice Canadians and Midwesterners are.

    As someone who recently moved from Seattle to Ohio: ‘midwestern nice’ is bull.

  16. Westside guy on August 14th, 2014 1:02 pm

    Humphrey Bogart said “We’ll always have Paris” in Casablanca… to Ingrid Bergman.

    However – since he was married to Lauren Bacall, it’s always possible he said it privately to her as well. 😛

  17. frazfan on August 14th, 2014 3:31 pm

    It’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? Those of us who’ve followed the Mariners fanatically for 10 years with little hope can’t wait to watch/listen to the games.
    And for all the flak JackZ has earned over the years, I’m very impressed with the Austin Jackson trade. Hopefully, when Saunders comes back–if he doesn’t injure himself yet again–and if Ackley can keep hitting, we might, just might have a real outfield.
    But Morrison’s hitting streak aside, first base has been a black hole. Right now Patrick Kivlehand is knocking the skin off the ball at AA Jackson and could be a nice fit. Check out his strikeout to walks ratio. And the pitching in AA is probably better than AAA. At last, someone who can fill the first base void.
    So why the wait to bring him up to AAA? Probably because Smoak is blocking his way. I suppose they want to keep him in shape so they can deal him off somewhere, so Kivlehan will come up to AAA for a few days in September. (Would he rise to the big club to get the feel of the bench in the majors?) Does anyone else have some ideas on Kivlehan? It just seems that a guy with his story and the way he’s crushing the ball bodes well.

  18. bookbook on August 14th, 2014 3:50 pm

    Kivlehan may have the world’s smallest window to establish himself, ahead of DJ Peterson at first base–which neither have played much in the minors.

    Right now, the world’s most obvious upgrade for the M’s over the offseason is to plug the DH hole.

    There will be some outfield possibilities as well.

  19. sawsatch on August 14th, 2014 3:57 pm

    Finally- ok up the middle and with a lead-off hitter to boot.
    Ist base a need as well as outfield.
    Ackly a future platoon guy?
    He can play LF, 2nd, and 1st ok to fill that role and get enough at bats to stay decent.

  20. MKT on August 14th, 2014 5:58 pm

    Oops yes you’re absolutely right Westside. There are famous Bogie-Bacall quotes, but harder to apply to baseball.

  21. Eastside Crank on August 14th, 2014 9:13 pm

    A lot of credit for this team’s success should go to Wedge for stepping down after last season and not managing this year. McClendon was just what the batters needed after the disaster of coach pull the ball Ibanez. McClendon’s coaches have done a solid job of teaching the younger players how to play their positions. A lot of the improvement seen in the past month should last even though the schedule has been very favorable. The other mid-ability teams have problems too as mediocrity reigns in major league baseball.

  22. Jay Yencich on August 14th, 2014 10:28 pm

    I have perhaps undersold the Blue Jays being rather tired at the beginning of the series, but really, a team that can hit like them probably could have bounced back and never did. We outscored them 19-4 over the series. And note that I made more of our pitching embarrassing their hitting than I did of us scoring runs against a plainly depleted pitching roster.

    As for the coaching staff’s role in all this, both defense and pitching have been a pleasant surprise. We all figured Felix and ‘Kuma would give us a front two, but from there it was suspect and we didn’t have much reason to harbor lofty expectations for the bullpen. There have been times where the part of my brain that’s accustomed to old school pitching management puzzles a bit at Lloyd’s removing starters and relievers as quickly as he sometimes does (that mid-at-bat one was especially fun), buuuut, as far as the results have gone, none of us are in a position to complain and if there are hurt feelings, well, what of it?

    And mediocrity reigning, well, I’ll just leave you with good old Grant Brisbee and his take on the second wild card being simultaneously the best and worst thing.

  23. groundzero55 on August 15th, 2014 5:04 am

    “As someone who recently moved from Seattle to Ohio: ‘midwestern nice’ is bull”

    I’ve lived in most of the northern tier states and I think “Midwestern nice” refers more to North Dakota/Minnesota/Wisconsin – Upper Midwest as opposed to Ohio/Illinois et al.

  24. MrZDevotee on August 15th, 2014 9:31 am

    2014 is a tell of two teams in Seattle… And the 2nd half team is pretty dangerous.

    If we can average anywhere around 4 runs the rest of the season, and numbers come out on the right days (y’know, in some grouping other than 0, 0, 12… 1, 0, 11, etc.) we have a very good chance of winning 3 out of every 5 games the rest of the way. The thinking being, a good chance at 2.5-3 wins out of every four King, Kuma, Young & Paxton starts… At that rate, we’re looking pretty good for a Wild Card. And (voodoo spells aside) even Oakland might be in reach depending on our head-to-head games with them, not because we’re blindingly good, but because Oakland hasn’t been playing great baseball in August (7-7). Their run differential has gone DOWN since the All-Star break… And they seemed to think “hey the Mariners have it figured out– let’s get rid of our cleanup hitter and go for more pitching!”

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a historically good team shake things up that much in a mid season trade. They were close to 2 runs a game better than their opponents when they made that swap. They’re run differential since the trade: 54 runs, to 48 allowed.

    That’s a huge longshot obviously… But as for the Wildcard–

    I like our chances. Specifically, because of our pitching and defense, which are much more dependable than hitting, is incredibly solid… And our pitching and defense are BETTER than Toronto, Kansas City, the Yankees and the Indians.

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