Game 4, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. Drew Pomeranz, 7:05pm

After a disappointing opening series, the M’s head to Oakland to face a team that’s probably just as disappointed in THEIR opener. The A’s split a four-game series with the Rangers, and while Texas’ line-up includes big names like Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, they are a *bad* ballclub. A team with a DH whose OBP over the last 2 years and 700 PAs is under .300, a team with question marks in the rotation, and punctuation marks that don’t appear to be english in the bullpen. A team that was forecasted to compete for last place *before* Yu Darvish went down with TJ surgery just took 2 of 4 in Oakland, including yesterday’s 4-HR 10-1 drubbing. My point isn’t that Oakland is suddenly, shockingly bad, just as the M’s aren’t bad because they lost 2 of 3 at home. It’s early, and weird things happen. We should just be happy they happen to other teams/fanbases as well.

Today’s game is a big one, as this is the first real test of Taijuan Walker 2.0. The re-worked mechanics, the pitch adjustments, the confidence he must’ve gained after a spring in which no one could touch him – it’s all put to the test tonight in a pitcher-friendly park. Walker’s a pretty important piece to the M’s in that he can stabilize the rotation a bit, and let depth like Roenis Elias fill other spots as needed, and because his projections were low enough that even a good year from Walker can help pick up the other players who will underperform. As we’ve seen, Walker pitches from the stretch exclusively, and features a live fastball at around 96, a slow curve in the low 70s, and a good split-change around 90. His in-between slider/cutter (slutter?) also comes in at 90, and despite the talk about a change, it looks pretty similar to the pitch he featured in his first call-up back in 2013.

While it’s always tough to rely too much on spring pitch fx numbers thanks to Peoria’s odd calibration, it’s a good sign that despite using the stretch, Walker’s velocity was the same or *higher* than it was in the spring of 2013, when he still used a wind-up. It was higher in the spring than it was in his big league debut in Houston, and higher than his first September start last year. I’m tempted to say that his velocity’s improved the more time passes after his injury, but a lot of it must be conditioning and mechanics. It’ll be something to watch tonight in what I presume will be a chilly April night in Oakland. The A’s were a good team against righties last year with big lefty bats like Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick, but Moss is in Cleveland and Reddick’s injured at the moment. Ben Zobrist is a switch hitter with very even splits, but other than that, Walker will only need to really be careful with Stephen Vogt. The A’s early struggles against righties don’t mean much, but with Reddick out and Ike Davis still playing like, well, Ike Davis, this isn’t a bad match-up for Walker.

Drew Pomeranz is a lefty who, like pretty much every other member of the club, remade himself after joining the A’s. He’d been a top draft pick of the Indians, moving to Colorado in the big Ubaldo Jimenez deal, but as a rising FB/curve ball hurler, he ran into problems in Coors field. He never really developed a change-up, and thus had trouble with right-handed hitters, and because of *that* faced line-ups stacked with right-handed hitters. Upon joining the A’s, he increased the use of his sinker dramatically. It was an afterthought in Colorado, but it’s an important part of his arsenal to righties now. That’s not to say he’s shelved the four-seamer – he’ll still throw it to righties, particularly after they’ve seen the two-seamer. The rising four-seamer probably also helps disguise his curve a bit. Whatever the reason, Pomeranz was suddenly very effective against righties last year, albeit in less than 70 IP as a swingman. The A’s are betting he can keep that up, and the M’s righty line-up will be a decent first test.

Last season, fully 1/4 of Pomeranz’s 20 appearances came against Seattle, and he had 16% of his total IP against the M’s. The M’s couldn’t figure him out, as he gave up 1 run in 11 IP against them, and walked nobody, despite occasional control problems against everyone else. The M’s have obviously re-tooled their line-up, and he’ll be facing Nelson Cruz and Rickie Weeks instead of Stefen Romero, John Buck and Cole Gillespie. That said, Nelson Cruz has fared poorly against curves in his career – he should look to get Pomeranz early, when he uses his sinker. In his career, Cruz is slugging .693 off the nearly 800 lefty sinkers he’s seen.

The line-up:
1: Weeks, LF
2: Jackson, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Ruggiano, RF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Bloomquist, SS
SP: Walker

The Rainiers dropped their opener in El Paso by a score of 11-4. Jordan Pries wasn’t sharp, and the relievers weren’t a whole lot better. Carlos Rivero opened the Rainiers account with a HR, but there’s not much more to say about the game. Abe Almonte went 5-5 for the home team, but Mike Curto kept things in perspective. Roenis Elias starts tonight against ex-Braves prospect Aaron Northcraft – game’s at 6:05, tune in to Curto or watch it on

Jackson shut-out Jacksonville 2-0 behind the pitching of Steven Landazuri and James Gilheeney. The game was scoreless into the 9th, but the Generals got two runs on RBIs by Gabby Guerrero and Jabari Henry. Today, Scott DeCecco starts against Jake Esch, which just sounds like a really affected way of saying jock itch.

The best prospect performance of the day belonged to Bakersfield RHP Edwin Diaz, who threw 5 scoreless innings with 8Ks against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Blaze led 2-0 when Diaz left following a very minor league play – with a man on, Tyler Marlette singled, but the ball got past the OF, and after a relay throw went awry, Marlette had come all the way around to score. The Blaze bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, but given the way the lead was acquired, it’s tough to be too upset about it. Tonight, last year’s pop-up prospect Ryan Yarbrough starts against fringe Dodger prospect Zach Bird. Bird’s been very young for his leagues, and has prototypical size and athleticsm that he pairs with a FB that can touch 94-95. The potential there, but the results haven’t been as of yet, which is kind of a scary thing to think about as he makes his first foray into the California League.

Clinton was rained out yesterday, because of course they were. I lost count of their rain-outs last year, and it’s just really tough to see ANY minor league club lose two straight opening nights – it’s such an important night for revenue that teams are loathe to call a game, even in moderately heavy rain. Ah well, they’ll try and play tonight – they haven’t scheduled a double-header the way some of the other MWL clubs have. If it goes, Brazilian pitcher Daniel Missaki will take the hill against Brett Graves of the A’s org.


36 Responses to “Game 4, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. ck on April 10th, 2015 7:09 pm

    Go M’s ! I hope Walker is great tonight ! This Spring, his focus and drive were certainly Type A, Taijuan!

  2. Dennisss on April 10th, 2015 7:10 pm

    If I count it right, the M’s right-handed batters are 6 for 43, with one double, no triples or home runs, 11 strikeouts and two walks. Tonight might be a good time for them to show a little bit of life.

  3. marc w on April 10th, 2015 7:17 pm

    Couple of shaky swings there from Jackson. Aaaany time you’re ready to hit again, Austin. No pressure.

  4. californiamariner on April 10th, 2015 7:32 pm

    Not a very good inning from Walker, but that 2 out hit from Davis was very fortunate. Taijuan had him fooled and he just stuck the bat out.

  5. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2015 7:37 pm

    Uh, has anyone else noticed the the OTHER AL West teams don’t seem to understand that we’re better than them, and should be beating them?

    It’s like they didn’t even READ any of the preseason predictions. Who do they think they are?

    It’s really kind of rude.

    (Also a little afraid that none of our own players paid attention to the fact that our offense is supposed to be much improved)

  6. nvn8vbryce on April 10th, 2015 7:38 pm

    I was a bit scared seeing the Bartender that early…

  7. kaleyk on April 10th, 2015 7:41 pm

    I sense a lot of disappointment destined for M’s fans ….. I don’t understand the infatuation with Rickie Weeks ….. This re-vamped offense is very sluggish thru 3.1 games!

  8. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2015 7:45 pm

    Rickie Weeks is right handed, that makes him very very VERY important to the Mariners. Supposedly.

  9. naviomelo on April 10th, 2015 7:48 pm

    That 3-1 pitch Ruggiano took looked an awful lot like ball four…

  10. nvn8vbryce on April 10th, 2015 7:49 pm


  11. marc w on April 10th, 2015 7:49 pm

    This has been pretty discouraging.

  12. Breadbaker on April 10th, 2015 7:51 pm

    A major league shortstop would have thrown out Fuld. Instead, we have WFB

  13. nvn8vbryce on April 10th, 2015 7:52 pm

    What’s worse is being stuck with Oakland’s feed on the TV…

  14. kaleyk on April 10th, 2015 8:03 pm

    MrZ … mom is also right handed and …..well I’m sure you get my point.

  15. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2015 8:17 pm

    I’m willing to give her a shot– tell her to get loose, take some swings in the cage.

  16. nvn8vbryce on April 10th, 2015 8:24 pm

    Anyone got some gas for the dumpster fire that is this game?

  17. Woodcutta on April 10th, 2015 8:25 pm

    Please come back soon Taylor.

  18. nvn8vbryce on April 10th, 2015 8:27 pm

    Let’s get loaded, Bartender…

  19. Dennisss on April 10th, 2015 8:32 pm

    I suppose it’s good to get your worst game of the year out of the way early.

  20. kaleyk on April 10th, 2015 8:32 pm

    We got this game ….. A quick score, an onside kick and ….. Crap, never mind …..!

  21. Ichirolling51 on April 10th, 2015 8:36 pm

    Anyone know who the best player in next years draft is? Might have a shot at him at this rate. Also why is Walkers velocity down? He was sitting at 92 he should be at 95+.

  22. wtnuke on April 10th, 2015 8:44 pm

    I think I mentioned this the other night, but I’ve gotten pretty sick of baseball here in week 1.

  23. MrZDevotee on April 10th, 2015 8:48 pm

    So much for the undefeated season…

    I guess 159-3 isn’t so bad though.

  24. Ichirolling51 on April 10th, 2015 8:50 pm

    We’ve been getting BABIP’d to death lately. Doesn’t help we’re back to our old ways of making crappy pitchers look like Cy Young contenders.

  25. Westside guy on April 10th, 2015 8:51 pm

    Wow, I was thinking about tuning in for the last few innings but fortunately I checked the box score first.

    Was there an explanation as to why Boom Boom was starting at short tonight?

  26. Ichirolling51 on April 10th, 2015 8:56 pm

    Mrz, I’m starting to think 1-161 is more likely.

  27. Longgeorge1 on April 10th, 2015 8:57 pm

    It’s all WFB’s fault!

  28. Dennisss on April 10th, 2015 8:59 pm

    I bet Willie was just getting a chance to play, plus he’s right-handed.

    Eighteen batters in 6 innings, and the continued crappy hitting won’t even be the story.

  29. kaleyk on April 10th, 2015 9:04 pm

    Please I beg you. M’s ….. No more Ricky Weeks !!!!!

  30. Westside guy on April 10th, 2015 9:19 pm

    It’s all small sample size right now.

  31. kaleyk on April 10th, 2015 9:32 pm

    You can call SSS ….. I’m going on record now, Weeks is terrible.

  32. californiamariner on April 10th, 2015 9:55 pm

    4 games.

  33. Westside guy on April 10th, 2015 10:23 pm

    I wasn’t speaking specifically about Weeks – and I’ve made comments before regarding how I don’t buy into all the hype surrounding this team. But I don’t think 4 games worth of performances is a good indicator of any team’s true talent.

  34. LongDistance on April 10th, 2015 11:08 pm

    TBT Mariners?

    Or … Getting their mid-May slump out of the way early?

    Or … Deliberately lowering expectations for themselves and everyone else in order to rid themselves of the fatal “favorite” status?

    Or … (breaking Johnny Carsons’s rule of three) just giving M’s fans a chance to dig up that Good Ol’ 2013 Feeling.

    Yes, they’ll start winning, but it’s interesting how familiar the AL West standings look at this point.

  35. Woodcutta on April 10th, 2015 11:36 pm

    Hopefully they call up that Larry Bernandez guy.

  36. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 8:52 am

    I have a confession…

    We’re 1-0 in games I attend, and 0-3 in games I watch on TV.

    If everybody pitches in a little, to help pay for tickets, I can fix this problem for us. I just need to go to more games.

    Sorry, but it’s for the good of the season.

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