Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I can't say I was expecting too much out of this game, this home opener. Of course there would be a giant ovation for Ken Griffey, Jr. upon his return, and we definitely saw that. The roof was closed when the players had their red-carpet introductions, but luckily it was opened once all of the pregame festivities were done. Then we were left with the daunting task of entrusting Carlos Silva to hold down the offense of the Angels. I just imagined too-flat, too-high not-quite-sinkers getting clobbered. I was expecting six innings out of Silva, tops. We saw better, though.

On the hitting side of the ledger, Ronny Cedeno (0-for-3 with a walk, scoring once), Adrian Beltre (0-for-4, striking out once, stealing a base, and driving in a run), and Jose Lopez (0-for-4 with a long fly that Bobby Abreu caught at the leftfield wall) were the hitless Mariners. Endy Chavez was the only multi-hit Mariner on this day, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. The offensive went a combined 7-for-31 with three walks and six strikeouts. Franklin Gutierrez recorded the only extra-base hit for the Mariners, the double that put him aboard as the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.

As for the pitching, I don't want to mention anyone that will get their paragraphs below, so I'll mention the bullpen as a whole. After Silva went his seven innings, the bullpen went the final three innings. To get those nine outs, they faced 16 batters. They gave up three hits, five walks, and struck out one. Needless to say, those aren't exactly 1-2-3 innings the bullpen was throwing out there. Other than not being able to crush Darren freaking Oliver (seriously) over the span of three innings, probably the most upsetting thing about this game was how erratic the bullpen was. Five walks (one intentional) in 16 batters is a lot. One positive is that Brandon Morrow's ERA is now all the way down to 7.36, so that's good. The way Roy Corcoran threw today, I was just glad that his ERA is still 0.00 after that 10th inning.

As an aside, I must mention that I'm not a fan of the direction where all the Fox/FSN telecasts took their on-screen graphics. The font they're using can sometimes be borderline unreadable when small letters are being used (letters that were legible in years past). The font is just too boxy, and the serifs make numbers like 6 and 9 look barely discernable from 8. The best graphics I've ever seen used on Fox were from the 2003 NFL season, where the score graphic on the screen used only the team logos and no letters. CBS uses Silicon Graphics, and I wish Fox could do the same in this case.

Anyway, back to stuff related to the game.

1) Carlos Silva
Back in 2005 and 2006 when I used to write longer game pieces for every game, I noticed that sometimes I'd give out gameballs for certain performances I thought I may never see again that season. Silva definitely had one of those performances in this game. There were moments of brilliance, and there were moments of vintage Silva -- the Mariners got him a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth before he served up that pitch that Torii Hunter absolutely wrecked/demolished/clobbered/obliterated in the top of the sixth. Silva gave up two runs and four hits over his seven innings, walking one and striking out four, needing 99 pitches (58 strikes). Of the four hits, two were doubles, and one was the Hunter solo shot. Silva faced 27 batters to get 21 outs. He got seven outs via ground and 10 outs via air. I guess that fly-friendly ratio might signal to me that maybe Silva wasn't completely himself out there. That ratio isn't Washburn-esque by any means, but I'd be more used to a flipped ratio of ten groundouts and seven flyouts. The fact that Silva faced 27 batters and 21 of them put the ball in play, however, doesn't surprise me.

2) Endy Chavez
As long as Chavez keeps hitting, I'll keep putting him into this section. One of the hits was laced hard over the infield and wasn't a seeing-eye or hole-finder of a hit, so that was good. Franklin Gutierrez was bumped down to eighth in the order, possibly making it easier for Chavez to move down to second if/when Ichiro returns for the second game of the series. I like the move of Gutierrez down because I don't know if you really want to throw him that many at-bats just yet. I don't feel like moving Betancourt out of ninth. Yet. Unless you move him to second? We know from this game that the bunt in the 10th didn't turn out like complete crap like we're used to out of Betancourt; it was actually quite good. I just want to see him hit, I care less about the bunting and patience and good stuff. One hilarious thing about this game: there was a point where a hit dropped in front of Chavez in right, and for some reason I thought it was Griffey out there and immediately thought someone else should be in rightfield before I caught myself.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
The centerfielder was moved down to the eighth spot in the lineup and went 1-for-2 with the Mariners' only extra-base hit. He also walked once and struck out once. He scored twice, including the Mariners' winning run in the tenth, which came right after he rocked that double. I was hoping that thing would be a homer, but you can't have everything, I guess. Like I mentioned in the Chavez paragraph, I think moving Gutierrez down in the order is better so he's not up to bat quite as many times and it's easier to hide his shortcomings at the plate. If he warms up later, I wouldn't be against moving him back up to the second spot in the lineup. As for the second game of this series, color me many shades of excited at the thought of finally being able to see the Chavez/Gutierrez/Ichiro outfield. Doubles into the gap? There should be a lot less of those now. Jarrod Washburn probably can't wait for this outfield to be playing behind him. This should be wonderful.

David Aardsma
I figured one of the bullpen guys needed to be in this spot, and it's going to be Aardsma. It's one thing to throw all fastballs all the time, but it's another to throw them waist-high or higher. It looks great when the fastballs are blowing past the hitters, but it's going to be quite another if Aardsma is on with the bases loaded and Vladimir Guerrero turns one of those fastballs around. This guy needs a second pitch like it's nobody's business, though I doubt he'll get one anytime soon. Eddie Guardado showed JJ Putz the splitter before he left Seattle. I wish there could be something similar here for one of the pitchers to show Aardsma how to throw something else. Even a straight change would at least give the hitters something else to look at. So far, Aardsma throws it up there and says, "catch me if you can" with his fastball. It's one thing if that pitch has pinpoint control on it, but he's throwing the ball and it's que sera, sera. If he had a changeup, I bet he could make some hitters look copletely foolish.

Wednesday could see the Angels get washed, burned, or Washburned. I'm just glad I don't have to settle for MLB.tv sticking me with the Angels feed and having Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler wax poetic about Washburn and tell everyone how awesome he was as an Angel. Bleah.

Keep in mind the next one of these I do will probably be strictly off the boxscore due to Game 1 of Blues/Canucks, which will be running concurrently with the Mariner game.

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