Tuesday, April 07, 2009
An opener can't really go much better than that. Felix wins and Junior homers in his first game back in a Mariner uniform. Okay, maybe it could have been better if Felix hadn't turned his ankle in the first inning. The collective hearts of Mariner fans everywhere surely sank for a few seconds there. Felix didn't seem to follow through especially well on the warmup pitches given to him, but he stayed in the game. I wouldn't have blamed Wakamatsu if he'd have pulled Felix at that point. My only real gripe was over Felix going out for the eighth inning with his pitch count at 90. I know Felix went 200 innings last year, and he's the horse and everything, but I guess I don't want them to ramp him up too quickly. Then again, he did throw for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, so he's been stretched out a bit already. Still, I was a little iffy on how much work Felix should get considering the ankle tweak.
Gameballs -- I guess maybe this will be like a three stars kind of thing...
1) Felix Hernandez
It definitely didn't feel like the most dominant start for Felix, but after you look at his final line (a run on five hits in eight innings), you can't really argue with the results. What's amazing is that despite three walks and six strikeouts, he was able to get through eight innings with 97 pitches. He recorded 13 groundouts to five flyouts, the latter of which helped minimize the possibility of defensive hijinks for a certain old-kneed veteran playing rightfield.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
His two-run homer just past the glove of Carlos Gomez put the game effectively out of reach. He also drew a walk and scored twice. He didn't have a big splash defensive moment like Mike Cameron had in his Mariner debut, but it'll come.
3) Ken Griffey, Jr.
There's still something left in that bat after all. On the home-run pitch, I thought, "is that really gonna go?" I guess I was surprised at how hard it was hit. Thanks to Felix's awesomeness, there also weren't too many balls hit his way in rightfield, so they were able to get away with having him out there. The reward, of course, was being able to DH Mike Sweeney, which worked out wonderfully (0-for-4, one strikeout).
The boxscore line itself is exactly the same as Sweeney's -- 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding one runner. What doesn't show up in the boxscore is Branyan's oddly-breaking bat that didn't break away until his backswing, where the barrel end clubbed Mike Redmond hard behind the plate. His other other broken bat flung many rows into the box seats on the first-base side, luckily without impaling anyone. No colossal errors at first base, though, so I guess it could have been worse. At least when Edgar had bats fly into the crowd, there was a pretty good chance it would be a whole bat.
Now we brace ourselves for Bedardation.