Game 129, Mariners at White Sox; Game 1 of the Post-GMZ Mariners
Taijuan Walker vs. John Danks, 5:10pm
Zduriencik’s last action as GM was the long-overdue demotion of C Mike Zunino to AAA. Given rosters expand imminently, it seems he’ll be with Tacoma for about 72 hours or so. Replacing him on the roster is John Hicks, the M’s 4th round pick in 2011 out of Virginia. Hicks had a reputation as a good defender (he leads the PCL in CS%), and has moved up the chain steadily, albeit with wildly inconsistent offensive lines. He was great in the Cal League, then fell apart in AA. Repeating the level in 2014, he put up a 121 wRC+ in 200+ PAs, but struggled after a promotion to Tacoma. This year, which he’s spent platooning with Steve Baron, has been his worst as a pro. It is the first day of the Jeff Kingston era, and the Mariners starting catcher is officially Jesus Sucre. 2015 is a hell of a drug.
We just saw this matchup back in Seattle 5 days ago, with the M’s winning a slugfest, 8-6. The M’s torched Danks for 7 runs in 5 IP, but the White Sox fared well against Taijuan Walker as well. Jose Abreu’s HR highlighted the fact that Walker is having real problems with right-handers recently; his FIP vs. RHBs is 4.87, well over a run higher than his FIP vs. lefties. His fastball *should* be effective against RHBs, but hasn’t been, perhaps because his breaking stuff still isn’t quite ready for prime time.
1: Marte, SS
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, RF
4: Cano, 2B
5: Gutierrez, LF
6: Jackson, CF
7: Trumbo, DH
8: Morrison, 1B
9: Sucre, C
With team president Kevin Mather signalling that he’s not interested in an inexperienced GM, interim guy Jeff Kingston’s in an awkward position (as is Lloyd McClendon, of course). Ownership/Mather may want a veto over personnel moves, as we saw when Frank Mattox was interim GM. What Kingston can do is really focus on figuring out what the M’s have in Hicks, Ramon Flores, Ketel Marte and the rest of the high-minors talent the M’s have. That’s tough, as getting a look at, say, Jabari Blash and Forrest Snow come September would mean 40-man roster changes. There are some spots the M’s could conceivably swap out, but they may be loathe to do so right now. Beyond that, I’d imagine his main job is figuring out what the heck’s going on with Jackson and Clinton, and where the player development strengths in the org really are. Zunino’s demotion may just be a way for him to work on things in a low-pressure environment, but there’s simply not enough time to get a lot of meaningful work in, whatever you think of Cory Snyder as a hitting instructor.
The Rainiers hit another 5 HRs last night in a big 12-5 win over the Nashville Sounds. The R’s lead the PCL in home runs, which is pretty amazing given how their home park stacks up with some of the launching pads in in the PCL. Forrest Snow was the beneficiary of all the run support, but he gave up 2 HRs of his own. He’s given up 22 HRs of his own, good for 2nd most in the PCL behind converted OF Jason Lane, who’s also pitched about 40 more innings. Something to work on going forward for the local product, who’s had a solid year despite the gopheritis. James Paxton makes rehab start #2 tonight against Nashville. Go see him if you’re in the area.
Jackson’s bats came alive yesterday in an 11-3 win over Montgomery. Jabari Blash and Guillermo Pimentel homered. Edwin Diaz pitched a solid 6 IP for the win. Stephen Landazuri starts tonight as Jackson opens a series with Pensacola
Visalia downed Bakersfield 4-1 behind a great pitching performance from Dormagen, Germany’s Markus Solbach. The lanky righty gave up an unearned run in 6 IP with 6 Ks and no walks. Scott DeCecco gave up 10 hits including 3 HRs in 6 IP for the loss. Bakersfield heads to Adelanto to face High Desert today; no word on their starter.
Burlington scored 2 in the 8th to beat Clinton 4-2. Zack Littell’s solid start (6 IP, 2R, 7Ks) was spoiled as the Lumberkings bats couldn’t do much. Clinton’s runs scored on a passed ball and a throwing error. Tyler Herb starts for the L-Kings tonight.
Everett beat Salem-Keizer 4-3 behind great outings from Enyel de los Santos and reliever Joe Pistorese. De los Santos went 7, yielding 2 runs, and then Pistorese tossed the final 1 1/3 with 3 Ks. Drew Jackson had 2 hits, including a double. Rohn Pierce gets the ball tonight for Everett.