Game 71, Red Sox at Mariners

marc w · June 16, 2018 at 4:29 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Wade LeBlanc vs. Steven Wright, 5:15pm

A day after another unbelievable comeback, the M’s make their national TV debut for 2018. Fox Sports is televising the game, hence the odd start time. The M’s have been one of the league’s better stories of the year, and part of it is that they seem so perfect for TV – Dee Gordon acting as the hype man, Cruz is the classic slugger, Haniger’s all-around brilliance has included a few made-for-TV defensive plays recently. Add to that the fact that the M’s have played so many close games, and have had innumerable comeback wins, and I’m actually surprised they haven’t had more national games yet.

All of that said, viewers tuning in tonight will see a very un-2018 game. With velocity ticking up year after year, pulling the leaguewide K rate with it, today’s game features two starters with the lowest average velocities in the game. Wade LeBlanc’s sinker is over 1.5 standard deviations slower than the league mean, and his four-seam (which he uses sparingly) is over 2 full standard deviations slower. And yet LeBlanc’s the fireballer tonight, as the M’s face Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright and his 76 MPH floater. When Wright does try to sneak a fastball past a batter (something he does around 7% of the time), it comes in around 82-85, or 3 full standard deviations from the mean.

Not everything about their game is anachronistic, though. In the past, both Wright and LeBlanc have suffered from problems with the long ball. Wright made only 5 starts last year, giving up 9 dingers in 24 IP. LeBlanc’s last go-round with the M’s saw him yield 14 in 50 innings back in 2016. It’s a warm night, and with two pitchers throwing sub-batting practice speeds, we could see several balls leave the yard. But part of why this match-up is so interesting is that both pitchers are having remarkable seasons avoiding big innings despite those tendencies. Both have incredible strand rates, both are running low BABIPs. Yes, knuckleballers and lefties often DO run low BABIPs, so this isn’t just a “regression is coming” notice. It’s just something to look for – how exactly do they manage to generate weak contact on a consistent basis? Knuckleballs are odd, because you can’t really see anything in their movement data – in general, they don’t have spin, and thus don’t really break. The late movement or fluttering that confounds batters tends to confound efforts to measure them, too. Still, it’s a known unknown; knuckleballs are often very, very difficult to hit (except when they’re not). I simply don’t know what’s going on with Wade LeBlanc. I enjoy it, but I’m baffled it.

1: Gordon, 2B
2: Segura, SS
3: Haniger, RF
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Healy, 1B
7: Span, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Heredia, CF
SP: LeBlanc

Everett kicked off its season last night, and LookoutLanding’s got a great preview of the AquaSox 2018 – take a look. They’ll look to rebound from a down 2017, a year that featured slow starts from a number of international prospects, and then had plenty of turnover as many of those players moved to new clubs following Jerry Dipoto’s midseason trades for David Phelps and others.

Their roster features a mix of 2017 and 2018 draft picks and a sprinkling of players who’ve moved up from the Dominican league in the past. Felix’s brother Moises is the pitching coach, and he’ll work with recent draft picks like Joey Gerber, Penn Murfee, Michael Plassmeyer, and Grant Anderson. The position players are highlighted by Keegan McGovern, who’s coming off a huge year for Georgia, and Josh Stowers, the M’s 2nd-round pick out of Louisville.

They lost their first game of the year to Hillsboro, 5-2, but they’ll get after it again tonight in Everett with Carlos Hernandez on the hill. It’s Chris Taylor bobblehead night, so you’ll come away with a cool souvenir and bad memories of one of Dipoto’s least effective trades.

Tacoma beat Omaha 5-2, with Mike Marjama hitting his 5th HR. Christian Bergman takes the mound tonight for Tacoma, who welcome the Iowa Cubs for a once-every-two-years visit. Manager Pat Listach is on vacation, so hitting coach David Berg will manage the series. Why did Listach schedule a vacation during the year? Apparently the Mariners *require* managers to take a four-game vacation once a season, and this is when Listach chose his.

Williams Perez tossed 6 sharp innings as Arkansas edged Springfield 3-1. Max Povse starts tonight’s game for the Travelers.

Stockton blanked Modesto 3-0, who got a solid start from Reggie McClain in a losing effort. The Nuts had just two hits in the game off of Ports starter Dustin Hurlbutt, who’s now thrown 12 scoreless innings against Modesto, giving up just 4 hits.

Beloit demolished Clinton 9-1, as Oliver Jaskie and Stephen Moyers got hit hard. Ryne Inman takes the mound for the Lumberkings tonight. Inman’s coming off of two mediocre starts; hopefully he can get back to the form he showed in much of May.


11 Responses to “Game 71, Red Sox at Mariners”

  1. WTF_Ms on June 16th, 2018 7:29 pm

    I was at the Tacoma game, and Marjama got hit in the foot by a foul ball 2 at bats before his homer.

  2. Stevemotivateir on June 16th, 2018 7:40 pm



  3. Grayfox3d on June 16th, 2018 7:45 pm

    What a pitchers duel!! last few seasons we lose these games. Keeping pace with the Astros is tough! I think they are on a 10 game win streak.

  4. mrakbaseball on June 16th, 2018 7:49 pm

    Wade LeBlanc, who knew?

  5. WTF_Ms on June 16th, 2018 8:13 pm

    It killed the Fox broadcasters to have to point out what the M’s are doing. It was a Boston love fest.

  6. mrakbaseball on June 16th, 2018 8:38 pm

    I didn’t see the game, wasn’t Goldsmith doing the play-by-play?

  7. Jake on June 16th, 2018 9:10 pm

    Yes, Goldsmith and AJ Pierzynski. I didn’t pick up on any Red Sox lovefest, but a lot was made about the Mariners winning 1-run games.

  8. sexymarinersfan on June 16th, 2018 11:24 pm

    Pierzynski was horrible!! Adam did a fantastic job! Even my wife called from the kitchen, who rarely pays attention goes, “who the heck are these guys with Adam? They sound horrible!”

    Most interactive she’s been in any of the games I’ve watched this year.

  9. LongDistance on June 17th, 2018 2:39 am

    I’m enjoying it. Loving it. But it feels weird. As a long time Mariners Fan – slash – loyal U.S.S. Mariner reader (a subset of Mariners Fan which includes people who actually find interest in aspects of the club a step or sometimes several steps deeper than the sports page), I’m still trying to position my headspace with what they’re doing.

    For the moment, the best I can do is observe them from a place that feels odd and alien, like I’m watching it from within the body of a fan in some other city where baseball is meaningless in expectations — Baltimore or KC — that is to say where I usually am come June in Seattle. And not seeing what I expect. And am watching a club that is playing amazing, exciting big time baseball with a big time attitude. The sort of dominant, winning attitude that says we deserve to be here and not what the heck are we doing here.

    We’ve known the great M’s clubs, with exciting players and some exciting years. But it was all emotion and wonder.

    This seems like something else. And in some ways so much better. Because it doesn’t seem so much like a miracle.

    No jinxing. I stop here.

  10. leon0112 on June 17th, 2018 4:10 am

    I was at the Ms game last night. LeBlanc was magnificent. Through 7 full innings he faced the minimum number of batters. After giving up an opening single and getting a double play ball from the next batter, he went three up and three down until giving up another single with two outs in the eighth inning. A masterpiece finished off by Diaz. Another one run victory.

  11. leon0112 on June 17th, 2018 4:13 am

    I wonder how many chances Dee Gordon had last night. He was amazing in the field and scored the game’s only run. A great pitchers duel.

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