Game 12, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 14, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Roenis Elias vs. Colby Lewis, 5:05pm

If you were asked to come up with a list of starters with huge platoon splits, there are a few obvious names – guys who’ve garnered some attention (really, really nerdy attention) for their issues with LHBs or RHBs. Justin Masterson was essentially the face of this phenomenon (a really, really nerdy phenomenon), Joe Saunders is another, less talented example, and Bronson Arroyo may qualify. Then, of course, you’ve got tons of relief specialists whose platoon splits essentially define their role. To make this work – to carve out a career while ~half of the opponents you face see the ball really well – you really have to dominate same-handed hitters. Masterson, with his low arm angle and tough slider, clearly does this. Joe Saunders does this, though how remains somewhat cryptic to those of us who watched him last year. Bronson Arroyo wasn’t as hurt by his splits thanks to his division, which shelters quite a few pitchers with large splits (Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Charlie Morton).

Tonight’s starter, Colby Lewis, is another pitcher with deceptively high splits. I say “deceptively” because his career numbers are skewed a bit from his very early years with Texas – 2003 in particular – in which he pitched a lot and was terrible against everyone. Since returning from Japan, so 2010 through mid-2012, he was a very different pitcher. A much better one, to be clear, but also a guy with noticeable platoon splits. These two things are related, of course. He stuck around and made something of an impact in the AL in his second tour of duty because he suddenly got very tough on right-handed batters. He wasn’t doing it with fastball velocity, or with an odd angle, and his slider isn’t the kind of pitch that you think of when you think of a wipeout pitch. It’s not its movement or velocity that’s made the difference for Lewis – when he’s on, the key’s been his location. When he came over, many talked about the cutter he added, but it’s not clear if that’s what’s now called his slider or some other pitch he decided he didn’t need. His change never quite developed, so Lewis ends up throwing a lot of sliders to lefties, especially ahead in the count.

But this isn’t a Brandon Maurer situation where lefties have just teed off on a pitch breaking in to them. Instead, they’ve nuked his fastball. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive given his delivery (traditional, not at all sidearmy like Masterson’s) and his very high vertical movement (it’s the high horizontal movement pitches like sinkers that tend to have more platoon splits). That “rise” means that most hitters can elevate his fastball, and obviously contact in the air can be injurious to a pitchers’ FIP – especially if they pitch in Arlington a lot. The more I think about it though, it’s not that lefties have fared fairly well and hit plenty of home runs. It’s that Lewis is so sneakily good against right-handers. From 2010-2012, his wOBA-allowed to righties went .277, .268, .276. For reference, Masterson from 2010-2012 went .307, .259, .277, before annihilating righties last year to the tune of a .238 wOBA. And this highlights one of the reasons Lewis struggled to get back to a 4-5 WAR pitcher like he was in his first year back: now teams know how to build their line-up. No one would leave righties in their line-up against Masterson if they had a choice. Now, people stack lefties against Lewis too. In 2010, he faced essentially identical numbers of righties and lefties. In the 1.5 years before his arm exploded, he faced about 1.38 lefties for every righty.

His arm strength/velocity are back, but the Rangers didn’t take Lewis north, er, east with the team out of spring training. Whether that was to let him build up strength or because they really wanted to see what Nick Martinez could do, I’m not sure. The Rangers’ rotation has been decimated, but they’re on the mend. Matt Harrison returns soon, Yu Darvish is back, and eventually they should see Derek Holland again. That means Lewis has a limited window to show he can add value. The M’s aren’t a good match-up, thanks to lefty-swinging SS, 2B, CFs. Let’s see if they take advantage.

Roenis Elias is still fascinating to me. Part of it is just the teams he’s faced, but Elias has seen only 8 left-handed bats this season. That should change tonight, as he’s got Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder – two lefties who have platoon issues of their own – in the line-up for Texas. It’s not a cakewalk by any stretch, particularly in Arlington, but at least some of the Rangers’ bigger offensive threats are lefties.

Line-up:
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Hart, DH
5: Morrison, RF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Smoak, 1B
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Elias

Not quite as LH-heavy as it possibly could be, but the decision basically comes down to Hart vs. Saunders, and Saunders is not helping his cause at the moment.

Jordan Pries faces off against ex-Rangers, now Cubs prospect CJ Edwards in AA tonight. Matt Anderson opposes even-bigger-prospect Mark Appel in the Cal League, while Brandon Maurer starts for Tacoma in Albuquerque. Tommy Burns pitches for the Lumberkings in the MWL.

Podcast: No More Athletics, Please

Matthew Carruth · April 14, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Monday morning podcast(s) continues/begins.

James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, and nearly the entire Mariners’ offense disappoints us. But the defense is still good! And other teams have injuries too! And s’mores! S’mores?

Podcast with Jeff and Matthew: Direct link! || iTunes link! || RSS/XML link!

Thanks again to those that helped support the show and/or StatCorner work in general last week. It’s really appreciated.

Game 10, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · April 12, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Erasmo Ramirez vs. Sonny Gray, 6:10pm

*Note the odd, one-hour-earlier start time tonight*

These two pitchers faced off last weekend, and I spent the game preview talking about how Erasmo was throwing more change-ups and fewer sliders, and Sonny Gray was throwing his new cutter more often. As it turned out, Erasmo used fewer change-ups on that day and Gray went back to his big curveball. Gray obviously didn’t suffer, blanking the M’s through 6 IP with 7 Ks.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Morrison, DH
7: Ackley, LF
8: Saunders, RF
9: Buck, C
SP: Erasmooooo

Lots to talk about (Beavan up, not Walker! Noesi to Texas!) but my cable modem just died and I’m on my cell phone.

Anyone know a good docsis modem that won’t blow up during game posts?

Game 9, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · April 11, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

King Felix vs. Tommy Milone, 7:10pm

Happy Felix Day – the first home celebration of our benevolent rulers long and oddly low-key reign. Not that we, as denizens of Felix’ fecund and forested kingdom, crave tumultuous events like war, famine, or commodity-driven bubbles and land speculation, but man, shouldn’t we annex a portion of Beanesville? Hell, how about a free-trade pact with Astreau just to make Darvishia wonder what we’re up to.

Tommy Milone looked to be the odd man out this spring, as he was slated for a stint in the A’s bullpen after two years of mostly solid work in the rotation. Nothing wrong with his work, but undersized guy throwing 86 is pretty much always going to face an uphill battle to keep his job once the club saw undersized guy throwing 96. Then, Ulnar, God of Elbows’ spring break pub crawl paid the A’s a visit, and Jarrod Parker went in for his second TJ surgery. Suddenly the A’s had an opening again.

Milone’s the same sneaky-slow fastball/solid change-up guy we’ve seen several times over the past two seasons – he’s made *8* starts against the M’s since 2012. And that neatly segues to his home run problem. Milone put up a 3.93 FIP in 2012, and saw that rise to 4.30 in 2013 despite a slight uptick in his K% (ok, his BB% went up too). But Milone’s problem, and you can see this coming when you throw an 86mph fastball and get a ton of fly balls, is and always will be home runs. He gave up 24 in 190 innings in 2012 (which isn’t great considering his home park, but isn’t the end of the world), then gave up 25 in 156+ innings last year. A part of it may be where he pitched – he made 18 starts in Oakland and Seattle in 2012, and just 13 everywhere else. In 2013, he made 12 starts in Oak/Sea and 14 elsewhere. Of course, he was great at home in 2012 and not great at all in 2013, so it’s probably a bunch of things.*

Line-up:
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak,1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Romero, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: FELIX

One of the oddities of the early Rainiers pitching staff has been Brandon Maurer pitching in middle relief. Unquestionably the most talented hurler on the staff, Maurer had some injury problems in the spring, but was reportedly tabbed as the long reliever for Tacoma. Then, he made a couple of brief relief appearances instead and DIDN’T start a double-header game that would’ve been perfect for a long-reliever (instead, the R’s went with a bullpen day with Nick Hill starting it off). Today, the M’s said that he’ll move into the rotation, and that they just wanted to get him built up. All of my speculative kremlinology, all my wondering if the M’s were upset with Maurer for some reason…none of it was true. He was hurt, they eased him in, now he’s in the rotation. Cool.

Today in the minors: Carlos Misell (Clinton), Dylan Unsworth (HD), Stephen Landazuri (Jackson), Anthony Fernandez (Tacoma). As I mentioned the other day, Unsworth’s first start in the Cal League went better than I would’ve expected- he gave up one un-earned run in 6 innings in the Adelanto wind-tunnel. Unsworth came over with a well-spotted FB in the mid-upper 80s, which is pretty tough to project. But he was also just 17, and some reports from last season say he added quite a few ticks. In the oft-mocked, over-used baseball twitter phrase, big, if true.

Speaking of High Desert, DJ Peterson’s strong start has garnered some attention, and a few deserved “Well, what do you expect” comments, but it’s great to see Gabriel Guerrero start off hot. The young Dominican had an awful start for Clinton last year.

GO FELIX! Go M’s!

* His change got good results both from a whiff and batted-ball-result point of view, so it’s not like batters exploited that weapon once they got to know it. Instead, I think Milone’s a good example of the old baseball cliche that an 86mph fastball up in the zone is a fairly risky strategy.

Game 8, Angels at Mariners

marc w · April 9, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Roenis Elias vs. Garrett Richards, 7:10pm

After spending much of yesterday’s game thread burying Albert Pujols and praising James Paxton, Pujols homered and Paxton’s lat strain sent him to the DL. We around here tend to frown on sloppy correlating, but I promise not to reference Pujols’ contract at all today.

The M’s improved to 5-2 yesterday, but the story of the game probably has to be the two big injuries. James Paxton’s “tweak” of his latissimus dorsi will hold him out for a few starts, while Josh Hamilton’s thumb injury will require surgery, costing the OF about two months. It’s very, very early in the season, but I’m not sure this could’ve gone any worse for the Halos. With several injuries to the Texas and Seattle rotations, the Angels had the opportunity to grab an early lead in a wide-open division. Instead, they’re 0-4 against the M’s, their bullpen’s struggled and they’re about to lose Hamilton for a good chunk of the season. To be fair, their slow start hasn’t impacted their playoff chances much at this point, but injuries and instability in the bullpen will make it tough for the Angels to dig out of this hole. It’s just a couple of games, but while we expected the gap between the Angels/Rangers and the M’s to have narrowed, I didn’t expect BOTH teams to look so flawed. Small Sample Schadenfreude.

Roenis Elias was solid in his first outing despite some questionable work behind the plate from Sean Barber. Today’s a different kind of test. The Angels’ extreme right-handed line-up looks to be a tougher match-up for a lefty like Elias with a lower arm angle. He didn’t pay for it against Cespedes/Donaldson/Crisp, and it’s not like replacing Josh Hamilton with JB Shuck makes the Angels a *better* offensive ball club, but I’m curious how he deals with Trout, Pujols, Kendrick, etc.

Garrett Richards is the hard-throwing righty who’d been terrible in college and the majors and only OK in the minors. He may have figured something out last year, as he was a pretty effective fill-in once Joe Blanton went supernova. I feel like I’ve written more about Richards than any other opposing player, which is odd and a little bit depressing.

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Morrison, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Roenis Elias

It’s too early to complain about PT, given that there’s been so little PT to go around, but when the time is right, Michael Saunders will ask some tough questions of his manager.

Lucas Luetge’s been recalled from Tacoma to take Paxton’s spot.

Edwin Diaz starts tonight for Clinton. Jimmy Gilheeney starts for Tacoma, who look set to actually get the game in today. The big story is Taijuan Walker making what’s looking like his final rehab start tonight for AA Jackson. He’ll go 85 pitches, and could be up soon. Iwakuma threw a bullpen and hasn’t complained of shooting pain, so he’ll probably head out for a rehab start or two in the next week.

Notes From MiLB Opening Weekend

marc w · April 8, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

It’s difficult to know what to make of small-sample minor league performances, as the fog of random chance, luck and results bias play havoc. Now imagine all of those factors are present, but add real and not metaphorical fog and clouds…THEN try to make intelligent judgments about prospects. Not so easy. In lieu of definitive judgments, I hope you’ll accept these random scouting-style notes from the opening weekend of the Minors, with a heavy dose of the PCL. Pretty much accidentally, I caught a bit of each game of the Rainiers opening series against Albuquerque. I missed yesterday’s game against the El Paso Chihuahuas, as I am still not quite ready to pay hard currency to watch a team named as one would name a U-10 soccer team (Jeff Francouer, Brooks Conrad and Adam Moore are all on that team, which kind of makes me want to go check them out).
Read more

Game 7, Angels at Mariners – HOME OPENER

marc w · April 8, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

James Paxton vs. Hector Santiago, 7:10pm

I think the game on April 2nd between these two teams and these two starting pitchers was the most encouraging of the young season. The M’s won their opener, but they *always* win their opener, in large part due to Felix Hernandez. The problem has been filling in enough complementary pieces to make Felix matter. In years past, the offense was a disaster, so the M’s rightly put the focus on improving run scoring – signing Robby Cano, developing Brad Miller, etc. But once Hisashi Iwakuma went down, many of us were worried that the rotation simply wasn’t deep enough to carry the team if the offense struggled. Roenis Elias and Chris Young still have me a bit spooked, but the picture’s dramatically different if the team has another high-ceiling, high-talent arm in the rotation who’s capable of shutting down an opponent. James Paxton’s 7 inning masterwork was thus a very, very encouraging sign.

I know – we’ve seen great performances out of the middle of the rotation before. You may recall that last year’s home opener featured a very good game from Joe Saunders, who went the first 6 1/3 IP with a 5:1 K:BB ratio and no runs allowed in the M’s 3-0 win. Paxton’s game was less about getting a divisional win, and more about demonstrating that the M’s have the capability to be much better than projected.

Like I mentioned with Sonny Gray/Erasmo Ramirez, Paxton’s clearly still tinkering with his approach and offerings. It’s tough to say much definitively about a pitcher who, because we have so little data, seems to change markedly from start to start. On the 2nd, Paxton did a couple of really, really encouraging things. First, his velocity actually increased as the game went on. His first inning saw his fastball sit around 91-93, but by the 5th or so he was consistently 95-97. Scroll down to the pitch speed graph here - there’s a clear upward trend to his velocity, which puts the final nail in the coffin of the “starter or reliever?” debate. The second, and perhaps more interesting, is how often he used his new-ish cutter, and how well it worked. I mentioned it after seeing his last AAA appearance, but it wasn’t something he used a lot. Even this spring, he used it sparingly in his first few outings before taking the training wheels off a bit in late March. But against the Angels, he threw it 17 times – as often as his curve ball. He threw it in the zone 14 of those times, and the Angels only put three of them in play (all were outs). At least that day, he generally saved it for left-handers, and both Ibanez and Hamilton in particular looked flummoxed by it.

It’s interesting that he’d use it that way, as lefties haven’t really been Paxton’s problem (not that he’s really had MLB problems yet). Teams generally stack their line-ups with righties, who’ve seen the ball a bit better against him…though still haven’t quite figured out what to do with those pitches. A good FB, with a plus cutter and a curve, and Paxton could be death on a stick to left-handers. Platoon splits – even big ones -are fine as long as you utterly destroy one side (the Justin Masterson approach), and if that’s how Paxton develops for a bit, that’d be OK with me. But think of *why* pitchers use cutters – they often do it to attack opposite-handed hitters. They have lower platoon splits than standard four-seamers, while two-seams/sinkers have the largest splits.* That’s nice, but it may have another use. Last week, Paxton threw RHBs 9 change-ups, against only 8 curves and 2 cutters. His change is around 89-90mph, and has lots of arm-side run. His cutter’s around 89-90mph, with slight glove-side run. Any batter who saw a change-up last week might see a brand new pitch from Paxton that’s the exact same speed, but with very different movement.

One of those righties is Albert Pujols, and perhaps no Angel position player’s been a bigger disappointment than the big 1B. Dave mentioned on twitter that it’s kind of astonishing that Pujols could be *so bad* for a week and no one really notices or finds it remarkable. Slumps happen to all players, of course, but this one’s been especially hard on the Angels because Pujols is batting behind one of the greatest offensive players in recent memory. In the game against Paxton, Pujols came up with no out, runners on first and second, and no out, runner on second. The first time, he grounded into a double play. The second time, he struck out. He earned his way to the worst WPA in the game (by far). Mike Trout actually hit Paxton fairly well, but with Pujols behind him, the Angels couldn’t take advantage. This brings up the rather awkward situation of having to move Pujols down the order a bit, at least until he snaps out of this. Your reminder: Pujols has actually been fairly cheap for the Angels thus far. He made a total of $28 million for his first two years in LA (combined). This season, his annual pay jumped $7m to $23m, and it’ll rise by $1m each year through…:gulp: 2021.

Enough schadenfreude. Paxton’s potential emergence is one of the big reasons M’s fans are a bit more encouraged this year. The M’s have opened on the road each year since 2009 – and that was the last year the M’s came into Safeco with a winning record. They were 4-4 in 2012, but still ended April with a losing record. 2009 really was the last time there much excitement about the M’s, with that out-of-nowhere 85-win season. Here’s hoping this year’s team rewards our hope a bit better than that one.**

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Romero, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Paxton

Paxton’s the 1st rookie to start the M’s home opener, apparently.

Happy Birthday to Felix Hernandez, who turned 28 today. When Felix came up, Jamie Moyer and Shiggy Hasegawa were M’s, and Pat Borders was on the team. Wiki Gonzalez caught him. Jamie Bubela played CF behind him, and Mike Morse played SS. He faced Bernie Williams and Corey Koskie. He was outdueled by Randy Johnson in the first meeting of the two greatest pitchers in team history. HE IS JUST NOW, JUST TODAY, 28 YEARS OLD. He’s moving through life like it’s a slow walk off the mound after another 1-2-3 inning while I accelerate towards the grave, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jimmy Gilheeney starts tonight against the Chihuahuas of El Paso (looks pretty rainy right now, and it’s supposed to get worse by 7, but who knows). 2013 22nd-round pick Tommy Burns starts for Clinton. AA Jackson’s off tonight, but they’ll get Taijuan Walker’s next rehab start, perhaps tomorrow (as he pitched 4+ IP for High Desert on Friday).

* Though FB with a lot of “rise” and little horizontal movement have even lower splits than cutters. Paxton’s regular FB is built to be an equal-opportunity frustrater.
** The 2009 roster is nearly unrecognizable. The M’s went into their home opener at 5-2 that year, with the wins allocated to Jarrod Washburn, Roy Corcoran, Miguel Batista, Chris Jakubauskas…and Felix, of course. I know all of the players, it just seems like they played here a decade ago. How was that only five years? Jose Lopez! Wlad!

Podcast: An Encouraging Beginning

Matthew Carruth · April 7, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Monday morning podcast(s) continues/begins.

This week we talked a little about the rotation and the defense and handing it to the Angels, the it being a buttkicking. Also, playoffs? And positivity! Lots of positivity; so much so that it got a little weird at the end. Sorry!

Podcast with Jeff and Matthew: Direct link! || iTunes link! || RSS/XML link!

Thanks again to those that helped support the show and/or StatCorner work in general last week. It’s really appreciated.

Game 6, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · April 6, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

Erasmo Ramirez vs Sonny Gray, 1:05pm

In 2012, Sonny Gray was coming off a disappointing year in AA, with an RA9 around 4.5, a high walk rate and a K rate under 6 per 9 innings. A year later, he’d made a splash in his big league debut, striking out more than a batter an inning, and outpitching Justin Verlander in a jaw-dropping 1-0 win in the AL Divisional series. This is why prospecting based only on numbers is such a fool’s errand, and why player development is at least as important as good amateur scouting.

The A’s overhauled Gray’s mechanics, and in about a year, he went from undersized, underperforming righty to the unquestioned ace of the Oakland staff. Development isn’t a straight-line path for any pitcher not named Felix Hernandez, and it’s not uncommon to see some ugly lines while a pitcher works on a tweak or learns a new pitch. James Paxton comes to mind, as does Stephen Pryor who was absolutely lost in High-A before learning a cutter/slider in AA and turning into an unhittable relief ace. Today’s two pitchers show that the process simply can’t stop. Both are short righties with solid fastballs, and both continue to adjust on the fly in the big leagues.

In 2012, Erasmo Ramirez made a splash from June through September when he hit the rotation and started relying on his best pitch, the change-up. In every game from June on, he threw his change up more frequently than his breaking balls (slider/curve), and looked like the M’s #3 starter for the next decade. In 2013, he was dealing with arm soreness, and whether it was due to pain or the predilections of then-PC Carl Willis, Erasmo went to his slider a lot. He made 11 starts from August through September and threw more breaking balls than change-ups in 10 of them. He also started using a sinker more than his four-seamer. In his first start this season, the sinker was back, but he paired it with a heavy dose of cambios. The sinker and change have very similar movement, and many (including me) thought that this may have been the reason his change-up was less effective than it had been in 2012. His last few starts of 2013 and his great opening start in Anaheim suggest otherwise – that the speed difference (which is ALSO less than it used to be, but still 10-11mph) is plenty to get hitters to swing over the change. One of his big problems, and one I didn’t see coming, was struggling against lefties. Part of this may have been pitching through injury, but part of it seemed to be the angle on his fastballs – for whatever reason, lefties have hit his four-seamer hard (though his career sample’s still small). Erasmo’s still a work in progress, but his willingness and ability to change on the fly are certainly good signs.

Sonny Gray didn’t look like he needed to make any adjustments after last year’s stunning debut (capped off by a season-ending win against the M’s and Erasmo Ramirez), but he’s got a new pitch this year. When he came up, he threw two fastballs, a change, slider and a curve. He used the big curve a lot, throwing it over a quarter of the time. Against lefties, he’d mix in the occasional change and a very rare cutter. He was great against lefties and righties, but the combo of fastball and curve destroyed righties in particular. Cleveland used a lefty-heavy line-up against Gray on opening day, and saw a flurry of cutters – 21 of them. With two very different breaking balls – the cutter’s a hard one, at around 86mph, and he hit 90 with one of them – he’s in a good position to give left-handers more than one look. His FB/Curve arsenal was great in 2013, but as hitters get more familiar with him, he’s adjusting and giving them more to think about.

Today’s line-up:
1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Morrison, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Ackley, LF
8: Saunders, RF
9: Zunino, C
SP: Erasmoooo

8 lefties to face Gray today.

Great day in the M’s system, as Victor Sanchez makes his AA debut for Jackson. South African control artist Dylan Unsworth makes his first 2014 start in the Cal League for High Desert. The Rainiers host Albuquerue as Chance Ruffin makes the start against Dodgers prospect Zach Lee – good game to head to Cheney if you’re in the area.

You’ll notice that Chance Ruffin’s in the Tacoma rotation and Brandon Maurer isn’t. That’s…different. This is something to watch this year; I’m just curious what the plan is for Maurer, who still has big league stuff, but obviously had a very difficult time in his first big league season last year.

Game 5, Attempt 2: Mariners at Swamp Things

marc w · April 5, 2014 · Filed Under Mariners

King Felix vs. DAN STRAILY. SERIOUSLY. 1:05pm

I swear, one of these times I write that the M’s are facing Dan Straily today, it’ll actually happen. But enough of that: Happy Felix Day!

The A’s left the tarp off their field, the skies opened, and the infield was the consistency of cottage cheese, hence the rain-out of a game in which it wasn’t actually raining. The field was in such a sorry state that it’s not certain that the M’s and A’s will get THIS game in, and it was the deciding factor in playing only one game today instead of trying to get a double-header in. On the upside, the M’s can go back to Felix Hernandez on regular rest and push Chris Young to the long-relief role that had been filled by that guy who came over in a trade or whatever…can’t think of his name.

Line-up:

1: Almonte, CF
2: Miller, SS
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Hart, DH
6: Seager, 3B
7: Morrison, RF
8: Ackley, LF
9: Zunino, C
SP: King Felix

I went to the Rainiers opening day double-header last night. They won their opener in grand style, with Blake Beavan going all the way (that’s 7IP), giving up 1 run and striking out 6. The bigger story was the offense, which annihilated Albuquerque’s pitchers, especially starter Stephen Fife. The Isotopes won game 2, despite HRs from Cole Gillespie and Nick Franklin. Those two looked very good; one of Franklin’s few outs on the day was a deep drive caught against the wall in left.

The games were interesting for two reasons. The opener brought back memories of the big three way trade from a few years ago when the M’s sent Erik Bedard to Boston. Trayvon Robinson, who came to the M’s in that deal, led off for the Isotopes. Their battery, Fife and C Tim Federowicz, were the pieces moving from Boston to the Dodgers in that deal. All we needed was Josh Fields, but though he had the most uncertain future at the time, he’s in the big leagues. Where have you gone, Chih-Hsien Chang? The second game featured Miguel Olivo behind the plate and Carlos Triunfel in the infield. All watched over by former M’s scout Hide Sueyoshi, who is also now with the Dodgers (along with Bob Engle).

Taijuan Walker’s rehab start in High Desert went quite well. After a so-so first inning, he settled in, and finished with a line of 4 1/3 IP, 4H, 1R, 1BB, 7Ks. DJ Peterson hit his first High-A HR.

« Previous PageNext Page »