Friday, April 10, 2009
With the end of this game, I rejoiced about not having to put up with the Twins' God-awful main camera angle. That's ripped right from ESPN's uber-mega-failed Dead Center experiment, which I hated with every fiber of my being. At least they passed it off a bit by saying it was the precursor to their ultimate goal, which was the K-Zone graphic. I can deal with that. But for the parks (Saint Louis included) that have turned to this camera angle, it's like they're doing it just to mess with my head. People have watched baseball just fine for decades with a fairly low-height camera in leftcenter. I'm very comfortable with my grasp of what looks like a strike and what doesn't and what a crazy breaking ball looks like and what a laser-beam fastball looks like. The dead-center, much-too-high camera just messes with everything I know in terms of watching a baseball game. The most hilariously bad example of the Dead Center experiment happened when ESPN had a game at San Francisco, and their very-high camera was getting whipped around hard by the wind. It was like Blair Witch baseball.
Okay, more related to the game...the Mariner offense racked up eight hits (8-for-32) with a couple of doubles. All/both of their runs were driven in with two-out singles -- one off the bat of Adrian Beltre in the first inning, and the bookender in the ninth by Rob Johnson in his first start of the season. Multi-hit games were notched by Beltre and Wladimir Balentien (who wasn't exposed on defense). The 0-fers went to Mike Sweeney, Jose Lopez, and Yuniesky Betancourt. For the record, Ken Griffey, Jr. was given the day off, and I'm glad Wakamatsu seems to be taking the resting Griffey thing seriously.
As for the pitching, well, it was nice to have starting pitching like this after the rubbish in the third game of the series and the just-not-good-enough start in the second game. In short, if the bullpen arms feel rested for the next three or four days, they've got Jarrod Washburn to thank for that. And Franklin Gutierrez. This leads us to...
1) Jarrod Washburn
I can't really find much to complain about with eight shutout innings. Washburn gave up five hits and the only trouble he really got into was in the eighth inning, but he wriggled his way out of the jam. At that point, the Mariners only led 1-0, but Rob Johnson drove in the insurance run in the ninth. In any event, Washburn faced 29 hitters, with 12 of them getting out via the fly ball. It's known that the Mariners got a hold of Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez for their defensive wizardry, which will be awesomely augmented when Ichiro returns. As will be the case for any really good Jarrod Washburn start this season (this being the first), the outfield will help make him look really good. Some of the flies to the outfield that were falling before for singles and doubles won't be falling now. If this helps maximize Washburn's trade value before the deadline, then the acquisitions of Chavez and Gutierrez will have paid for themselves. Speaking of which...
2) Franklin Gutierrez
He hit a double to go 1-for-3 and was driven in by Beltre in the first inning, sure, but it's what happened in the bottom half of the same inning which serves as Exhibit A as to why this guy's a Mariner. That diving catch in the leftcenter gap...wow. I'm approaching watching the Mariners on defense completely differently now -- in the past if a fly ball off an opponent's bat wasn't an obvious can of corn, I thought it had a good chance of falling for some kind of hit. Now, even some of the hits that seem like gappers off the bat have me wondering if Gutierrez or Chavez (I can't wait for Ichiro to be part of this) can run it down. I'm incredibly psyched about this Chavez/Gutierrez/Ichiro outfield that hopefully takes the field very soon.
3) Adrian Beltre
He didn't come out to play third base until the ninth inning, but even in his absence there, Ronny Cedeno made a very Beltre-like play. That aside, Beltre took some rest as the DH and drove in the go-ahead run in the first. He finished 2-for-2, but also with two walks. Maybe since Glen Perkins was a lefty he wasn't chasing sliders low and away (Boone style), maybe not. Either way, Beltre didn't strike out in this game. If Beltre keeps his torrid pace of .385 hitting, the Mariners will get an incredible haul at the deadline. Let's root for 30 homers and 100 RBIs for Beltre at the All-Star break. Let's make this happen. Also, let's have Erik Bedard with 15 wins at the All-Star break. I'd actually be happier with that than if Beltre had those astronomical pipe-dream numbers I just posted. How about the Mariners get some starting pitching AND DRAFT SOME STARTING PITCHERS THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY MAKE THE BIG CLUB AND STICK AS STARTING PITCHERS!!!!
It had to be somebody. Less than 24 hours after the middle infielders combined to go 5-for-8, they went 0-for-7 in this game. Lopez hung an 0-for-4 and struck out twice, and he has a number 5 under that little "LOB" column all the way to the right of the boxscore I'm seeing. It could be worse, though. I could have easily chosen the body-of-work method of goat selection and chosen Mike Sweeney because he still hasn't recorded a hit this season. It may be the only thing Sweeney has in common with Delmon Young, as a matter of fact. Let's all keep in mind Chris Shelton and Jeff Clement could both be batting .000 at the Major League level right now, but instead we have Mike Sweeney doing it. Hooray veteran leadership! Hooray clubhouse chemistry! I know, it's only been four games, and that's what I'm trying to tell myself. Anyway, let's have Lopez bring us a 30-homer season with decent defense. Aw, screw it. Let's have Lopez shoot for 73 dingers. Aim high. Ridiculously high.
Aussie against the A's. Hyphens, glasses, and kangaroos, oh my!