Game 20, Mariners at Rangers
JA Happ vs. Ross Detwiler, 5:05pm
Now that’s more like it, Taijuan. Armed with better command, Walker carved up the Rangers line-up, and while the Rangers aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row, they had enough lefties to give someone like Walker fits. That they didn’t is very good news. Early on, he used his curve ball, and that seemed like a good change of pace, but then he put it away and stuck with his FB/cutter and change (the M’s announcers mentioned that he used his curve more, but he only threw 4 on the day). To me, the biggest takeaway was that Walker was able to find a pitch that worked when he didn’t have his best stuff. Against the Rangers’ lefties, I expected that pitch to be his splitter, but unfortunately, the splitter is still a work in progress – it was better than it’s been, and he gave up some hard contact even when he put it where he wanted to (like Rougned Odor’s single), but it’s simply not fooling anyone, and I’m still not sure why. That said, his cutter picked up the slack, and he felt comfortable using it against lefties – the strikeout of Choo in the 2nd, for example, or the double play that Leonys Martin hit into. Put it all together, and Walker had his second best career start, and he did it essentially without a change-up and using his curve 4 times total. I’d still like to see what he could do with three or four pitches functioning at the same time, but it’s nice to know he doesn’t HAVE to have that to win.
The M’s face Ross Detwiler, the guy who started the great 11-10 comeback game 9 days ago. As I mentioned then, Detwiler’s got massive platoon splits, with righties hitting .282/.347/.446 off of him in his career. This year, their wOBA is a Nelson-Cruz-inflated .523. He hasn’t pitched since that wild game at Safeco, and he’s given up 18 runs in 12+ innings – it’s not like Texas has a lot of good alternatives, but you’ve got to assume he’s another bad start or two from swapping roles with a current reliever. The M’s will try to hasten that along with their righty-centric line-up.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Ruggiano, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Weeks, LF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Miller, SS
9: Zunino, C
The Rainiers lost 6-5 to Sacramento in extra innings last night, failing to hold a few late leads. Ronny Cedeno tied the game with a HR off of Joe Saunders in the bottom of the 8th to send it to extras. I love the PCL sometimes because of blasts from the recent pasts like that, perhaps the most 2009 sentence you’ll read on this blog all year. Chris Taylor went 3-5 with a 2B and 3B, while Carlos Quentin went 2-3 before being lifted for a pinch runner. Mike Montgomery starts today against Austin Fleet.
Jackson was on the other end of a late comeback, scoring 4 runs over the final two innings to beat Montgomery 5-4. Stephen Landazuri was sharp in the early going, and then the line-up bailed the Generals out after some shaky relief work in the middle innings. Gabby Guerrero had two hits and Dario Pizzano three. Lefty Kyle Hunter starts today for the Generals.
Bakersfield lost to Stockton 9-4, as starter Paul Fry recorded only a single out, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits. Tyler Marlette went 2-5 with a HR, and 2B/SS Brock Hebert pitched a scoreless inning in relief – the only Blaze pitcher not to yield a run. Tyler Pike starts today, and maybe *this* will be the start where his control clicks back into place. I know I’ve been saying that for the best part of a year now. Annnnny day now.
Clinton faces ex-M’s affiliate Wisconsin today. Pat Peterson starts for the L-Kings, and David Burkhalter goes for the TimberRattlers.