Game 85, Tigers at Mariners
JA Happ vs. Anibal Sanchez, 12:40pm
It’s getaway day, and the deciding game of this three game series. The first two games featured 12 home runs in what’s supposed to be a HR-suppressing park. Today, the M’s face a starter in Anibal Sanchez who’s seen his HR rate spike this season, and the M’s send out a lefty who’s got his HR rate under 1 per 9 innings for the first time ever.
Anibal Sanchez is an interesting pitcher. His motion’s over the top, and the ball’s released from quite near the center line. He throws a fastball that was around 94 when he had his career year in 2013, but is down to 92-93 now, a slider and a great change-up. His fastball is arrow-straight, with between 0-2 inches of horizontal movement, but a lot of vertical rise. These mechanics and these pitches seem designed to minimize platoon splits, and that’s exactly what we see. Over his career, Sanchez has slightly reversed platoon splits, and he’s held lefties under a .300 wOBA every year since 2011. His fastball’s good against lefties, but his main weapon is a plus change-up that he throws at 86; lefties have come up empty on 37% of their swings on the pitch, and that’s crept upwards over time.
Interestingly, he throws a fair number of sliders to lefties as well as righties. It functions like a cutter in many ways – it’s pretty hard at 87mph, and it has less gloveside movement than a typical slider. If you squint a little and give your author a bit of license, it’s almost like a splitter. Maybe that’s why it’s *lefties* who’ve really struggled with it, swinging and missing twice as much as righties. Righties have had the advantage on Sanchez’s four-seam fastball as well. He’s got a sinker that’s been sporadically effective against them, but he’s throwing that less often now.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Smith, RF
6: Trumbo, 1B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Sucre, C
The Rainiers held on to beat division-leading Fresno last night 8-7, cutting their deficit to 6 games. Jesus Montero was the star with 3 hits including 2 triples, which is one of those sentences I never thought I’d ever type. Jordan Pries takes the mound as Tacoma heads to Reno to take on the Aces tonight.
Moises Hernandez and Victor Mateo were locked in a pitcher’s duel into the 6th last night when the wheels fell off for Felix’s brother. A 6 run 6th blew the game open, and it ended 9-1. Jordy Lara and Tyler Smith doubled, but the offense couldn’t drive the ball off Mateo who gave up just 3 hits in 6 innings despite not striking anyone out. Misael Siverio starts tonight against Mississippi’s Stephen Janas, a 6th round pick in 2013 who’ll be making his 2nd AA start. In 6 starts in the Carolina League, Janas was 5-0 and gave up just 2 runs in 37 innings. He then went 5 2/3 scoreless in his AA debut.
San Jose jumped on Dan Altavilla, knocking him out in the 4th, and cruised to a 9-4 win. The Blaze offense struck out 13 times and had just one extra-base hit, a double from SS Rayder Ascanio. The snake charmer Tyler Pike starts for Bakersfield tonight against Ray Black of San Jose. Black was a 7th round pick out of Pitt back in 2011, but a college injury proved to be far more serious than anyone expected, and Black wasn’t able to pitch in games until 2014. The upside was that when he came back, he was throwing 100mph. The Giants sent him to the Sally league and in 31 1/3 IP, he struck out 64, which is absolutely remarkable despite any age-relative-to-league quibbles. The walks have crept up this year, but he’s still doing reasonably well, and it looks like the Giants are giving him a shot at starting – though that probably means he’ll go 3 innings at most today.
Clinton and Quad Cities split a double-header yesterday, with the Bandits taking game one 1-0 and the L-Kings winning the nightcap 6-1. Tyler Herb pitched well, and Jarrett Brown continued his odd run of success as a double-header fill-in starter while scuffling out of the bullpen on non-DH days.
Everett beat Hillsboro 7-4 to snap their losing skid. Alex Jackson had 2 hits and started in CF, while Corey Simpson hit his 4th HR. Andrew Moore threw 3 innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 5. The 2015 draft pick out of Oregon State has now thrown 11 innings, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits while walking *none* and striking out 16. That’s as good a debut as anyone could’ve expected. Luiz Gohara starts tonight for Everett.