Game 117, Angels at Mariners – Sometimes Nostalgia Is A Welcome Distraction

marc w · August 11, 2017 at 5:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Ricky Nolasco, 7:10pm

James Paxton’s now on the DL with a strained pectoral muscle; he’s expected to miss 3 weeks or so. Felix is on the DL. Iwakuma is on the DL. Drew Smyly’s Mariner career will be a single, unbroken DL stint. The M’s are still tied for the lead in the chase for the 2nd wildcard, but the news over the past 24 hours or so has been unrelentingly bad. Today, the M’s honor Edgar Martinez with a bobblehead giveaway and the start of Edgar Martinez weekend – Edgar’s #11 will be retired tomorrow, and then Sunday will be replica jersey day. Like many, I’ve sometimes been frustrated at a team that seems to peddle nostalgia when it struggles to sell an actual, competitive team. But today, it feels particularly welcome to celebrate a singular talent, and someone who seemed to will himself to greatness. Paxton can’t stay healthy, it’s true, but let’s remember that Edgar’s career didn’t properly begin until he was 27, just a year younger than Paxton is now. He survived a debilitating injury to his knee, shoulder surgery, and battled strabismus in his eyes. His own body seemed to be sabotaging him, so he worked tirelessly to improve it and his approach. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Great players always seem to make the game look easy – Ken Griffey Jr. is the classic example. Edgar never seemed that way; there were always too many signs that he was anything but a superhuman hero: the way he always flinched at high pitches (the product of the fact that he really couldn’t see them well at all), and of course his speed, or lack thereof. That’s what made his seven year peak from 1995-2001 one of the most remarkable runs I’ve ever seen. He was just clearly the best, most complete hitter around, and he did it despite all of these disadvantages. Griffey looked effortless, while Edgar seemed the product of years and years of careful, meticulous self-improvement. Griffey sprang, fully-formed, from some higher plane of existence. Randy Johnson was the most talented pitcher I’ve ever seen, but one who needed to work a bit to figure out his mechanics to become the inner-circle HOF’er he became. Edgar carried the M’s to new heights and became the heart and soul of some historic line-ups and he did it in a completely different way. He seemed like a one-man rebuke to the idea of the can’t miss prospect, of the generational talent. This probably isn’t fair either to Edgar (who was pretty clearly naturally talented) or to Griffey (who put some work in to become an icon), but it felt incredible – almost revolutionary.

It’s both shocking and almost fitting that the M’s haven’t made the playoffs since Edgar led the offense. This year’s group is good enough to get them there, but it’s looking like the pitching staff may not survive long enough to help. Marco Gonzales desperately needs a great start here to spare a bullpen that’s pretty clearly overtaxed. Andrew Moore’s been recalled to help that bullpen, but if he’s spent in long relief, I’m really not sure who’s going to take Paxton’s turn in the rotation. As I’m typing this, the M’s seem to have answered that: the M’s have just acquired LH pitcher Andrew Albers from the Braves. You’re…you’re never going to believe this, but he’s a lefty throwing about 87-88 who fits the command/control mold to a tee. I’ve seen him compared to Wade LeBlanc a few times. At 31 years old, he doesn’t quite fit in the Braves youth movement, but he’s dominated the International League. He’s seen a bit of MLB time, mostly with Minnesota, and pitched for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but gets a few more grounders than Moore and that ilk. This is the most Mariner move I’ve seen in some time, but it’s hard to complain when injuries have wiped out so much of the M’s rotation. Sure, I’d love to see them expand their search beyond “poor man’s Jason Vargas,” but I recognize that beggars can’t be choosers.

I’ve spent far too much time over the past several years detailing the specific ways in which Ricky Nolasco is a steady, below-average baseball player, but one thing stood out for me today. In the past several years, his fastball’s declined to the point where it gets battered pretty regularly; he’s given up 20 dingers on fastballs (sinkers+ four-seam) this year, for example. His breaking stuff isn’t great, but he’s got a moderately interesting splitter that he reserves for lefties only. That’s produced some reverse platoon splits, as he’s essentially doing what I accused Ariel Miranda of doing: sidelining his best pitch and choosing to live or die on his fastball. It’s a common thing, but it doesn’t make it any more intelligible for me.

1: Segura, SS
2: Alonso, 1B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Gamel, LF
7: Dyson, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Martin, RF
SP: Gonzales


9 Responses to “Game 117, Angels at Mariners – Sometimes Nostalgia Is A Welcome Distraction”

  1. mrakbaseball on August 11th, 2017 7:09 pm

    Maybe not the place, but I always found it strange the way Mariners fans cheered Edgar with the chant borrowed from Red Sox fans jeering Strawberry during the 1986 World Series “Daaaaarrrryllll,” “Daaaaarrrryllll,”

  2. Westside guy on August 11th, 2017 8:25 pm

    Wow, I just came in during the top of the fifth… so far, it appears the pitching has been beer than I’d expected. Good job, Marco Gonzales!

  3. Westside guy on August 11th, 2017 8:30 pm

    Hey, Mikey! Now it’s 3-1 Mariners!

    I still don’t get how he’s managed to cobble a semi-decent season together when he’s posting a 39% strikeout rate… but who cares?

  4. Westside guy on August 11th, 2017 8:57 pm

    Haha that shot of Trout, after Cruz went to third, was funny.

    “I didn’t expect the old man to do that”

  5. Westside guy on August 11th, 2017 9:19 pm

    This time around, Moore seems to have picked up right where he left off during his first stint with the team… giving up bunches of runs.

  6. Grayfox3d on August 11th, 2017 9:19 pm

    awesome…. just awesome.

  7. Sowulo on August 11th, 2017 10:04 pm

    There’s not a lot a pitcher can do when 5 out of 6 pitches he throws to a batter are strike but the umpire gives Trout a walk.

  8. WTF_Ms on August 11th, 2017 10:08 pm

    I’ve been avoiding these games, for good reason. What a disaster. Hopefully Tampa and KC have worse messes than we do, down the stretch.

  9. Sowulo on August 12th, 2017 1:07 am

    and LA and Minnesota and…….

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