Game 5, Athletics at Mariners
Nate Karns vs. Rich Hill, 6:10 – note the odd start time
Nate Karns makes his M’s debut opposite one of the unlikeliest opening day starters in years, the A’s Rich Hill. Hill’s 36, and was a big prospect for the Cubs back in 2004-5, back when Felix was tearing up the minors in the M’s system. A lefty with a great curve, he induced a flurry of strikeouts, but he was never all that great at throwing strikes. After a very good year in the Cubs rotation back in 2007, keeping his walk rate in check, but even then, he was prone to odd control lapses. When they got more frequent the next season, he was sent back to the minors, first to AAA and then all the way to extended spring training.
As a control-plagued, out-of-options pitcher, Hill hung around by moving from org to org – first Baltimore, then Boston, then Cleveland, and filling in wherever he could. The A’s are his *sixth* organization since 2013 (Cleveland, Boston, Anaheim, Washington, New York, Oakland). That he’s found his way to Oakland seems inevitable – this has been Oakland’s recipe for assembling a pitching staff for years. That he got there after signing a $6m free agent contract is the odd part.
Last year, Hill started in the Nats org, pitched poorly in AAA and opted out of his contract. He went back to the Red Sox, who moved him from the pen to the rotation. Hill’s walk rate fell, and the Sox decided to call him up. After four of the best starts of his life, Hill was a hot commodity again for the first time since the Bush administration. Hill was incredible, fanning 36 and walking only 5 in 29 innings. The raw results, the FIP numbers, the curve ball – they all shouted legitimate talent, but it was *29 innings* by a 35 year old journeyman with TJ surgery in his history. That obviously capped what he’d make on the open market, and the A’s decided they could absorb the risk.
It’s a cooler day in Seattle, and the humidity’s supposed to rise in the late evening – hopefully that keeps the ball from flying, allowing Karns to pitch up with confidence. Hill’s occasionally had HR problems as well, but the M’s need to focus on working the count to see if Hill’s incredible control in Boston was another temporary thing.
1: Aoki, LF
2: Marte, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Iannetta, C
7: Gutierrez, RF
8: Lee, 1B
9: Martin, CF
The Rainiers won their 2nd straight behind a good start from Gonzaga product Cody Martin and more great relief from David Rollins and Blake Parker. Ed Lucas, Mike Zunino and Efren Navarro each had two hits, leading to a 5-2 win. The R’s staff K’d 10 Isotopes without allowing a walk. Today’s game is the big pitching match-up of the early season, as James Paxton faces off with Jeff Hoffman of Albuquerque.
Jackson pulled away from Montgomery 9-2. Ryan Yarbrough gave up 2 runs in 5 1/3, matching Rays prospect Taylor Guerrieri, who gave up 2 in 5IP. Jordan Pries shut the Biscuits down the rest of the way, tossing 3 2/3 of no-hit, no-walk, no-run ball with 5 Ks, while the Biscuits bullpen imploded. The big hit was a grand slam from CF Guillermo Heredia in the 7th. Today, Sam Gaviglio starts for the Generals – he spent last year in Tacoma’s rotation.
Visalia beat Bakersfield in another pitching duel, this time 3-2. Austin Wilson doubled for the Blaze. Anthony Misiewicz gave up all three runs in 5 IP – only two of them were earned, as Bakersfield made a couple of errors. Tyler Herb makes his high-A debut for Bakersfield today.
Clinton’s game in Kane County was rained out. Zack Littell starts today.