Saturday, April 11, 2009
As for the hitting, the Mariners were 9-for-33 with three walks and five strikeouts. They stranded five runners but were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Multi-hit games belonged to Endy Chavez (3-for-5, two RBIs) and Russell Branyan (2-for-4, one strikeout). Yuniesky Betancourt rang a double for the team's only extra-base hit. The 0-fers on this night went to Franklin Gutierrez, Adrian Beltre, and Ken Griffey, Jr. To Junior's credit, he was only 0-for-1 and ended up drawing three walks. He also ran way too far on a Matt Holliday fly ball to the rightfield foul line. Luckily Griffey's hamstrings and other leg parts seemed to have no ill effect after he made that catch. Griffey was eventually replaced, but that was because he walked his way aboard in the eighth and Wladimir Balentien ran for him as the possible insurance run.
1) Endy Chavez
Pretty much the only flaw I saw in his game today was that I thought he should have caught that ball that fell for a double at the leftfield wall. The amazing thing was that he wasn't short of the ball, it looked like the ball went just beside his glove as opposed to over it. In any event, 3-for-5 with two more RBIs as the temporary leadoff hitter is nothing at which to scoff. The odd thing about most of his hits is that they aren't a bunch of line drives over the infield -- all of his hits seem to be stung off the bat, then they just find holes or narrowly elude the grasp of the infielders. I hope that's a sustainable thing. Granted, Chavez maintaining his current .409 batting average surely isn't sustainable, but I'm just hoping it's more based on his awesomeness than pure luck. As nice of a surprise that the Chavez emergence is, I'm not sure where I'd slot him into the lineup once Ichiro returns. I guess maybe you can put him at #2 and bump Gutierrez to the bottom third of the lineup somewhere.
2) David Aardsma
The A-Man (the Baard?) mowed down all six hitters he faced, amounting for two shutout innings while holding a one-run lead. It's quite a way to earn your first save in the Majors. I've seen him on television before, throwing for other teams, but I guess I just never realized just how hard Aardsma can throw. Other than Morrow and Batista, who unfortunately aren't serviceable starters right now like they should be, this is largely a no-name bullpen. Having guys around like Kelley, Jakubauskas, and Aardsma appears thus far to be a good way to get decent innings on the cheap, and that's a credit to Jack Zduriencik and friends over at Mariners central command. Aardsma struck out one of his six hitters, got another to ground out, and got the other four on fly balls. He threw 14 strikes and 11 balls. I have a feeling any homer he gives up will be a complete moon shot if anyone manages to hit his fastball on the nose, though it probably won't be as majestic as the Mark McGwire blast off of Randy Johnson.
3) Shawn Kelley
Kelley didn't exactly get a soft landing for his big-league debut. Instead, with the A's having drawn to within a run during the previous inning, Don Wakamatsu handed him the ball. Kelley gave up a hit, sure, but retired the other three hitters he faced (a grounder and two strikeouts) for a scoreless seventh inning. In odd numerical news, I think 23 looks really weird as a pitchers' number. To me it's always been a hitter's number -- Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, and such. Maybe Kelley should flip it around and go with 32. As long as he doesn't pull any single-digit crap like Rob Bell did a few years ago. Anyway, Kelley seems like a good idea after one outing, but we'll need to see some more appearances before we really get a handle on him. So far, he's tons better than Kevin Jarvis.
I really wanted him to do well in this game, but it just wasn't meant to be. He was all over the place. Luckily, thanks to Jarrod Washburn's long outing the day before, there was more than enough gas left in the bullpen arms to pick up the slack for a bad outing by Rowland-Smith. In one of my few prognostications that ever go right, I told my dad in the second inning that the Aussie wouldn't get past the fourth inning, and somehow that's what happened. Rowland-Smith left the game with two runners aboard and one out in the fourth, leaving that situation to Chris Jakubauskas. The Aussie went 3 1/3 innings, giving up two unearned runs on four hits with a strikeout. Of course, the first Oakland run in the bottom of the first scored when Rowland-Smith came off the mound to field a grounder and threw the ball about ten feet wide of the first-base bag and into the runner and into foul ground, allowing the first run to score all the way from first base. That play seemed to affect him for the rest of his outing. His final pitch count reads as 36 balls and 46 strikes. He faced 20 hitters in the game and walked four. Despite this, the Mariners were not behind when he left the game and already had the lead they would'nt relinquish. I have to say that Rowland-Smith's penchant for working fast could have been a detriment -- it seemed he could never take a moment to gather himself, and I swear he quick-pitched Orlando Cabrera at one point. Hopefully on the next turn through the rotation, the Aussie does what we know he can do.
If the Aussie threw, that means Felix is going today. What a great day for a game to not be televised. Bastards, the whole lot of 'em.