Game 154, Mariners at Angels

marc w · September 24, 2021 at 6:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Jose Suarez, 6:35pm

There’s no wrong time to pull off a road sweep of a divisional rival, but that four-gamer in Oakland could not have come at a better time if the M’s could pick before the season started. What I find difficult about this team from an analytic standpoint (I seriously don’t know how to *learn* from what they do, or to make sense of it, really) is exactly why this team is so fun.

The M’s, like most teams, fare poorly at the plate in games they lose, and do much better in games they win. This is…obvious stuff, of course. If you hit better, you can score runs, which give you a chance to win. Okay, so, the M’s have a slash line *in victories* of .250/.330/.444, which, honestly is pretty terrible. Compared to other teams in *their* wins, it’s way, way below average (sOPS+ of 84). In losses, though, they’re hopeless: they hit .190/.266/.311. That’s an OPS well below .600. This makes sense after watching this team – they alternate a ton of comeback 5-4 wins with the odd clunker; like a 12-1 loss to Houston or something.

What yesterday’s win reinforced to me was that this pattern of blowout losses and close-fought wins, while obvious in hindsight, is imperceptible *during* a game (unless it’s 12-0 in the 2nd inning). What I mean is, yesterday’s game had the look of one of those snooze-fest losses. Chris Bassitt was dealing, the A’s got an early lead, responded when the M’s scored a run, and…then everything changed. The M’s bullpen was completely dominant, picking up a gassed Yusei Kikuchi, and the offense become a completely different animal. Cal Raleigh – CAL RALEIGH – who came in with an OPS under .500 and who’s looked utterly lost for a long time, became a legit power threat, and Luis Torrens, who’s been cold, but nowhere near as cold as Raleigh, got the big hit to put the M’s ahead – the only time in Jake Diekman’s career he’s given up 2 HRs in a game. It looked like a blowout loss, and then, suddenly, almost violently, shifted into one of those close, comeback wins.

That earns the M’s yet another most-important-series-of-the-year, this time at an out-of-it Angels club. The story remains the same with the Halos – they simply can’t pitch, and it’s ruined another MVP season. Shohei Ohtani’s season is the kind of thing I will tell my grandkids about, a season that I’m still shocked is actually happening. And it’s all going to be for nought.

Jose Suarez has always looked intriguing to me, with a very split-like change that mimics his four-seam fastball’s horizontal movement. It’s pretty clearly his best pitch, and one he goes to almost 30% of the time. But all of that good-on-paper stuff didn’t help Suarez in 2019-2020, when he threw 83 IP of well below replacement level slop at the AL. This year, though, something appears to have clicked a bit. He’s got more velo by a tick or two, and that probably helps. But he’s also getting more ground balls, which is great, given that HRs was his biggest problem, and the biggest reason for his ugly ERAs and FIPs. He’s still not exactly stingy with long balls, but it’s well within the normal range this season. Lefties (Suarez is a southpaw) will see a lot of high-70s curves and four-seam fastballs with the occasional cambio, while righties get mostly four-seams and change-ups, with the curve sprinkled in, especially as a first-pitch strike-stealer.

1: Crawford, SS
2: France, 1B
3: Haniger, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Torrens, DH
6: Toro, 2B
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Murphy, C
9: Moore, LF
SP: Gilbert

Tacoma kicked off its series with Round Rock with a heartbreaking late-inning collapse. The Rainiers were up 6-0 (with much of the damage off of Rangers SP prospect Cole Winn) in the 7th, but gave up 1 in the 7th, 3 in the 8th, and 3 in the 9th to lose 7-6. Texas super-prospect Josh Jung homered, and Wyatt Mills allowed the final three runs in the walk-off win for the Express. They’re back at it today, and it’s 1-1 in the early innings. Ryan Weber’s on the mound for Tacoma.


2 Responses to “Game 154, Mariners at Angels”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 25th, 2021 6:02 pm

    Toro is sporting a .490 OPS this month, Kelenic has just 1 hit in his last 5 games, and those two are your number 5 and 6 hitters.

  2. eponymous coward on September 25th, 2021 7:47 pm

    They aren’t really why the M’s are down double digits in this one. Ope.

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