Thursday, April 09, 2009
The positives included the bullpen, as Chris Jakubauskas and Mark Lowe chimed in with solid performances, and the hitting of the middle infielders. Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez combined to go 5-for-8 with two RBIs, a double, and a homer, scoring twice. Also, the Mariners did not get completely clobbered despite having Carlos Silva on the mound as the starting pitcher.
Negatives? Pretty much everything Silva-related, which I'll get to below. That leaves us with hitting performances, as Franklin Gutierrez and Kenji Johjima were the hitless parties. It was nice seeing Gutierrez hit the last couple days, but until his bat comes around consistently, they're paying him for his defense. Johjima, on the other hand, has shown nothing in terms of carryover of his decent hitting from the World Baseball Classic. Again, it's only three games, but if Johjima keeps hitting like this, the secret Japanese vault will open again and he'll get another four-year contract extension or something. Additionally, there were a couple points in Bedard's start where there seemed to be some more communication or handling issues, so Johjima's still got that to deal with. There isn't a Jamie Burke to whom Bedard can throw.
1) Chris Jakubauskas
Like Roy Corcoran the night before, Jakubauskas came into a one-run game. Unlike Corcoran, the J-Man was making his Major League debut and was down a run instead of ahead. Corcoran mowed through all six of his hitters while Jakubauskas faced seven, giving up a hit and issuing a walk. He did, however, strike out two, and was on one end of the pickoff of Cuddyer at second base to thwart a two-out rally by the Twins. I have no clue how long this guy is going to stick with the big club, but two scoreless innings and an inning-ending pickoff will make his debut stick in the back of your mind for a while.
2) Yuniesky Betancourt
The Cuban isn't here just because he was on the back end of the pickoff play. Yuni the Impatient went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double, scoring once. Much has been said about his defense getting a little more shoddy and much has been said about his impatience at the plate. We're three games in, and I haven't seen anything too brutal out of Betancourt so far defensively. At the plate, if Betancourt goes 3-for-4, I really don't give a crap how free-swinging he is. If you combine the adage of "you can't walk off the island" with the fact that the best hitter on the Mariners since Betancourt's arrival has been Ichiro (a guy who would much rather hit his way aboard than walk), maybe it's not such a surprise that Betancourt wants to swing at one of the first three pitches he sees. Sure, I wouldn't mind seeing him work the count a bit, but if it's not a Betancourt-y thing to do, then I don't have a problem with it if he's tossing the occasional multi-hit game into the mix. If he does it with Ichiro around, he'll be on base for the best singles hitter in the Majors.
3) Russell Branyan
I could have gone with Jose Lopez here for having the other multi-hit game for the Mariners, but I'm going with Branyan. I needed to see something out of his bat in this game, and I'm glad I saw him hit that home run. It looked like a pretty easy swing (it looked like a distant cousin of a Jim Edmonds homer swing), but that homer was quite the wallop. The homer was a two-run shot that tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning. That accounted for his 1-for-3 day and the two RBIs. He also struck out twice (Branyanian) and walked once. I always imagined Branyan as a lefthanded version of the good version of Richie Sexson, and not just because Branyan eventually was the replacement after Sexson was traded to Milwaukee. There will be homers and there will be strikeouts.
There were two 0-for-4s in the Mariner lineup, but good gracious. After three games, the Mariners' starting pitchers have gone 18 innings. Eight of those innings were thrown by Felix Hernandez. Thus, the bullpen threw 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday night and three innings in this game. Does anyone have the over-under on exploding arms in the Mariner bullpen this season? I guess reinforcements could come down the line in the form of Josh Fields and Chad Cordero. Seriously, though, after Felix Hernandez, I'm pretty worried about the workload that's going to be shouldered by the bullpen this season. I think Jarrod Washburn will fare better than Silva and Bedard in terms of innings, and I think Ryan Rowland-Smith will as well. Anyway, it's good to know that Silva took the same magic from his final start with Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic into the Metrodome for this start. Five innings, six runs, eight hits, a walk, two strikeouts, two homers, 98 pitches. Awful.
I guess we'll see just how good this revamped Mariner outfield can make Jarrod Washburn look.
...and rest in peace, young Nick Adenhart.