Game 6, Mariners at Athletics
King Felix vs. Jesse Hahn, 1:05pm
Much different feeling today, after the M’s – behind their #5 guy – take down the A’s and their ace, Sonny Gray. Sure, there are still plenty of things to be worried about. The bullpen coughed up a late lead, the line-up looked flummoxed most of the day against Gray, and Happ was left in too long in the 7th. But at least there are some pretty big positives outweighing them – Nelson Cruz looked solid, and put together some decent at-bats even before his big 3R homer turned the game around. Brad Miller made a great play to save the team in the 10th, and then hit a game-winning double off of a tough lefty in the 11th. Mike Zunino *walked*. JA Happ was effective throughout, averaging 93 on his four-seamer. Still a few too many sinkers for my liking, but he used the four-seamer most of the time, and it was an effective outing overall.
Today, Felix gets his second start of the year, taking on the A’s and RHP Jesse Hahn. Hahn came over from San Diego in one of AJ Preller’s innumerable trades. The one-time Rays prospect had a great debut with San Diego, throwing 73 IP with a very good K rate, and a park-aided but still impressive HR rate thanks in part to a 50% GB rate. Hahn throws a four- and two-seam fastball at 93-94, with a curve as his primary breaking ball. He’s also got a change-up and a very rare slider. His platoon splits were on the low end of normal, with lefties hitting for more power and fewer strikeouts, but taking fewer walks. That’s going to be something to watch as Hahn transitions to the AL; last year, he faced exactly the same number of righties and lefties on the year. In his first AL West start five days ago, 17 of the 26 batters he faced were lefties.
Hahn typically threw a four-seamer to righties, and used his sinker against lefties, with everyone getting around 25% curve balls. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes in Oakland, following the noticeable shifts they made in the pitch mix for guys like Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez. Against Texas, Hahn threw more four-seamers, including against lefties. It was one start, so it’s tough to know if that was a clear change of approach, something in the scouting report or both.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Smith, DH
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
The Rainiers beat El Paso 10-2 last night behind HRs from Carlos Rivero and Franklin Gutierrez, but perhaps the story of the night was the return of SS Chris Taylor. Taylor’s rehabbing from that broken wrist he suffered on a HBP in the spring, and went 1-3 with a double before giving way to Leury Bonilla. The Rainiers knocked around San Diego prospect Robbie Erlin, the one-time Rangers prospect who moved to San Diego in exchange for reliever Mike Adams a few years back. Erlin suffered an elbow injury last year, but avoided TJ surgery. He’s bounced up and down between AAA and the Pads, but will need to show he can stay healthy this season. LHP Sam Gaviglio was solid in his M’s org debut, throwing five scoreless innings on 5H and 2BBs; he struck out 3 Chihuahuas. Mike Kickham starts today for Tacoma in El Paso – gametime’s 12:05. The lefty’s game looks a bit like his one-time teammate Madison Bumgarner, in that Kickham uses a fastball around 90-91, and a blizzard of sliders that he’ll throw to lefties and righties alike. While platoon splits haven’t really been an issue for him in the minors, righties have torched him in his short big league stints in 2013 and 2014 – Kickham’s RA/9 is well over 11.
South African control artist Dylan Unsworth makes his 2015 debut today for Jackson against Kendry Flores and the Jacksonville Suns. Flores moved from the Giants to the Marlins org in the Casey McGehee deal this off-season. He was a 10-20th ranked prospect in the Giants org after following a very good 2013 with an up, down and injury plagued 2014. Tyler Pike was so-so in his debut, walking and striking out 3 over 4 2/3 IP. He took the loss after the Generals managed only 1 R against Jacksonville. DJ Peterson has started slowly, going 0-11 with 1 BB thus far.
Caros Misell starts for Bakersfield against Rancho Cucamonga. The 22 year old could use a few good games to open 2014 following a poor year at Clinton in 2014. The Blaze have opened 0-3, with the line-up still struggling in the early going. Dan Altavilla struck out 8 in 5 2/3 yesterday, but took the loss. The Blaze have 10 hits and just 4 runs in total over their first 3 games; the Rainiers have scored 31 runs on 44 hits in three games.
Finally, NC State product Pat Peterson makes his MWL debut today for Clinton. The righty threw 11 solid starts for Pulaski last year, striking out 54 in 49+ innings. The LumberKings swept their DH yesterday, winning 5-4 and 2-1. Alex Jackson went 1-4 with a 2B in the first game, while the pitching of Osmel Morales and Jarrett Brown, a 22nd rounder out of Georgia last year, was the story in the nightcap.