Game 5, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 11, 2015 at 10:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

JA Happ vs. Sonny Gray, 1:05pm

Today’s game can’t be worse. So we’ve got that going for us.

JA Happ takes the hill after a shaky spring, but again, if he can embrace fly balls, he’ll find the AL West can be a pretty welcoming place. As I mentioned back in the early spring, it might be a good idea to shelve to the two-seamer he uses occasionally and simplify a bit to a four-seamer, curve and cutter. He’s got a change, but it hasn’t been a great pitch thus far. Might be nice as an occasional pitch to show off, but it’s probably not great as his primary weapon against right-handers.

The A’s send their ace Sonny Gray out for his second start of 2015. In the first, he carried a no-hitter into the 8th against a punchless Rangers team. He’s got an arrow-straight, almost cutter-style four-seam fastball, a sinker that he uses against right-handers, a big curve ball at around 82mph, and an occasional slider and change. With his distinctive four-seamer movement and curveball, his minimal platoon splits shouldn’t be a big surprise. Gray exploded onto the scene with 10 great starts down the stretch in 2013, with a big K rate and low HR rate leading to a FIP of 2.70. Last year, he wasn’t able to sustain that, as his K rate that fell to league average, and a K:BB ratio a touch below that. As a result, his FIP wasn’t as gaudy as it had been, but his ERA was still pretty good. In essence, he took a page from James Paxton’s playbook, managing contact and running absurdly high GB rates for a four-seam hurler to minimize HRs and BABIP. The HR rate thing isn’t just a product of coliseum – in fact, he was much better on the road, and gave up twice as many HRs at home as he did on the road. The biggest worry going forward for Gray was that he seemed to tire down the stretch; his small size resulted in durability concerns that sent him tumbling down the draft board in 2011, from a guy once seen as a top 5 pick down to #18. He’s still a tough, tough match-up for the M’s, but some patience might be rewarded today – run up the pitch count, foul some pitches off, and wait for a grooved FB – despite the results, he threw quite a few mistake pitches in his first game.

1: Jackson, CF
2: Smith, DH
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Sucre, C
SP: Happ

On paper, this looks as unfavorable, as unwatchable, as yesterday’s game was anticipated and favorable. Last night’s game turned out to be a completely digusting mess, so hey, games rarely unfold as they’re ‘supposed’ to. At least the M’s get Seth Smith back, but his groin injury seems like it’s still a factor, as he’ll be DHing today.

Yesterday in the minors, the Rainiers countered the Chihuahuas opening day blow out by scoring 17 runs against the hapless lapdogs, knocking Aaron Northcraft out in the 2nd, and then pouring it on against ex-Rainier Steve Kohlscheen after that. Patrick Kivlehan hit his first AAA HR, but it came against the El Paso 2nd baseman, not an actual pitcher. Franklin Gutierrez continued his hot start with 2 2Bs, and Stefen Romero hit 2 2Bs as well on his way to a 4-6 night. Carlos Rivero was 4-5 with a walk, and hit a HR on opening day. Today marks the org debut for pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who the M’s acquired from St. Louis in exchange for IF Ty Kelly. Gaviglio’s from Ashland, and went to OSU, and utilizes a sinking four-seamer around 88-90 to generate ground balls. He’s also got a slider and a firm change around 84.

Tyler Pike makes his season debut for the Jackson Generals in Jacksonville. One of the minor league stars of 2013, Pike battled serious control problems throughout 2014, and his overall numbers last year were awful as a result. Pike hasn’t shown a lot of bat-missing ability, so dramatically dropping his walk rate is going to be imperative going forward. High Desert undoubtedly impacted him last year, though he fared even worse after a late-season promotion to AA. Still, he’s just 21 and still should have some of the pitchability that scouts raved about in 2013.

Dan Altavilla takes the hill for Bakersfield today. The righty was a 5th round pick out of tiny Mercyhurst college, and spent 2014 in the Everett rotation. The Bakersfield offense hasn’t found their footing yet, as they’ve scored just 3 runs in two games. Ryan Yarbrough was solid last night, giving up 2R in 4IP with 4Ks, but the offense scored just one run, and the Blaze fell to 0-2. The middle of the order, from Timmy Lopes to Tyler O’Neill to Austin Wilson hasn’t clicked yet, but they should soon. Bakersfield’s home park isn’t *quite* as hitter-friendly as High Desert’s, but it’s surprisingly close thanks to its extra cozy dimensions: The CF wall in Bakersfield is an absurd 354 feet from home plate.

Clinton dropped their opener too, despite a solid performance from Daniel Missaki, who went 6IP, giving up 2R on 5H and striking out 5. He left with a 3-2 lead, but the bullpen coughed it up. Alex Jackson was 1-4 with a 2B, and Joe DeCarlo hit a HR for the LumberKings. Clinton’s got a double-header scheduled today, with Tyler Herb – a 29th-rounder last year with a solid K rate across three levels – and intriguing Venezuelan Osmel Morales starting.


35 Responses to “Game 5, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 11:20 am

    Is it simply to mock us that we get things like “Seth Smith, DH” and “Nelson Cruz, RF” in the same lineup?

    Or are we already trying to increase Nelson Cruz’s trade value?

    Either way, I’m happy to see Seth Smith and his 3 extra base hits per game average in the lineup.

    Go M’s!

  2. Westside guy on April 11th, 2015 11:46 am

    Nelson Cruz in right again. Should be good for a laugh anyway!

    I know they don’t have much choice, but it was pretty likely we’d see a bit of this when – after publicly complaining about their disappointment with their injury-prone right fielder – they replaced him with… An injury-prone pair of platoon players. But if it happens a lot, I’m sure Z will go on record as saying “no one could have foreseen this”, like he did with Michael Morse.

    Meanwhile, Michael Saunders tripped on a pop-up sprinkler head at Toronto’s spring training facility and had to (well, chose to) have his meniscus removed – so he’s out for them until later this month.

  3. marc w on April 11th, 2015 1:07 pm

    When I thought of things that we’d focus on in the first week, I really didn’t imagine it’d be Seth Smith’s groin and the impact it might have on his defense. Huh.

    Man, this team could use a good game from Happ.

  4. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 1:13 pm

    I’m rooting for Happ, just so he doesn’t have to suffer some miserable nickname like “Miss Happ” if things don’t go well…

  5. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 1:33 pm

    The CF fence in Bakersfield is 354 feet from home plate? How is that possible. Is it 40′ high?

    For some reason this item intrigues me more than the Mariners do right now. I’m not sure why.

  6. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 1:37 pm

    My wife’s sense of humor is in midseason form. They showed the “fan pics” on Root and there was a little kid asleep on the floor, and the wife says “Ahhh, that’s the cute… The Mariners’ offense put that little one to sleep…”

  7. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 1:38 pm

    Hey, humor works!!!

    HR Ackley.

  8. nvn8vbryce on April 11th, 2015 1:39 pm

    Mr. Z, I was thinking about Happ-less affairs, however, that would mean an early exit for Mr. Happ. I don’t think any of us want to see that…

  9. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 1:41 pm

    I’m thinking your wife pretty much has to have a pretty good send of humor. And good for her.

    And yay Ackley!!!

    Ackley looks like he has actually bulked up to the 195 pounds (or more) that the team used to claim he weighed when he broke into the league.

  10. SonOfZavaras on April 11th, 2015 2:13 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed that, Msfanmike.

    I used to think “C’mon, this guy’s barely a buck-seventy! 195, my butt!”

    I am very ready for more than .255 and a dozen dingers to come from our Mr. Ackley in a season.

  11. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 2:18 pm

    The additional bulk is in some part attributed to the extra six pounds of beard, no doubt. He definitely is slower than when he first came up, but he is carrying the extra weight fairly well. However, his ankle situation is troubling. He runs with a noticeable limp and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.

  12. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 2:54 pm

    Good. That felt weird being ahead for that long.

  13. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:05 pm

    Grrrrreeeaaat! (With a Scottish accent)

    Caught a break with that replay review of the play at the plate, but I’m not sure it will matter. 7 runs in 5 games (with 4 coming in the opener) is NOT inspiring much confidence.

    Happ pitched a good game … That’s something positive.

  14. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:07 pm

    A’s have scored 34 runs this season…

    M’s? 8 runs.

    They obviously don’t realize we’re better than they are.

  15. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:09 pm

    Wow, I only thought it was 7. That is good news!

  16. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:12 pm

    I had to double check after I saw you wrote 7 Mike…

    Good news is, the Cubs are keeping us from being last in the league. They’ve only scored 3 runs so far. We were tied for 2nd worst at 7 coming into today. With our co-World Series favorite, Washington Nationals.

  17. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:14 pm

    Do we also have a Chris Bryant waiting in the minor leagues?

  18. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:17 pm

    Okay Robbie … Be Robbie.

  19. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:23 pm


  20. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:25 pm

    Bowing to the mighty Nelson Cruz… He hit that right as I was saying “Okay Big Guy, we just paid you 40 million to be right here…(boom) There it is!”

    I liked that.

    That challenge ended up HUGE.

  21. JasonJ on April 11th, 2015 3:26 pm

    Whew! We really needed that. Thanks Nelson.

  22. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:27 pm

    (On a side note– Kyle has had the worst luck with BABIP this season… He and Morrison have hit a ton of well hit balls right at guys.)

  23. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:31 pm

    Horrible curveball, Danny. Hung it AND no break at all…

    Carson Smith, please.

  24. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:31 pm

    The Farquar cement mixer breaking ball up in the zone.

  25. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:36 pm

    Carson made Davis look silly. Wow!

  26. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:37 pm

    And then – That happened.

  27. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 3:37 pm

    Why is every God Damned Mariners pitcher throwing belt high, middle of the plate…

    EVERY one of them the past few days…

    Jesus Christ.

  28. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:51 pm

    This is pretty early in the season for a “rainbow” implosion.

    I am proud of you, though.

  29. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 3:58 pm

    Way to not protect the plate, Jackson. Holy shite … Game is winnable and he’s standing there watching the corner get painted.

  30. nvn8vbryce on April 11th, 2015 4:15 pm

    Why is it that extra innings always scare me?

  31. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 4:23 pm

    So is our old 3rd base coach the current A’s 3rd base coach? I approve of his call, either way.

  32. kaleyk on April 11th, 2015 4:37 pm

    Someone finally told the Mariners ….you can drive in runs without hitting a home run!

  33. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 4:40 pm

    Now comes, as my wife likes to call it, the “Fernando Rodney Rollercoaster Ride of Death!!!” (followed by a fake scream)…

  34. MrZDevotee on April 11th, 2015 4:46 pm

    Mike Zunino hauling in the 6″ outside pitch for a called strike 3…

    He is good at that.

  35. msfanmike on April 11th, 2015 4:47 pm

    Good win.

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