I am still very much sore from yesterday’s pitching-fest at the park. I don’t know how many of you have ever tried to apply an Icy Hot patch to your own back, but let me tell you, it’s an adventure in futility. I managed to get it stuck on there, but it was all twisted around, and I spent the majority of the day smelling like a nursing home. Thinking I’d maybe try and loosen things up, I took my mitt and balls out again this afternoon, and tossed about 40 before I decided that doing that by oneself isn’t much fun, since the balls don’t come back to you; mine don’t at least. At the present moment, my right forearm is cramping on me. Also, there is nothing quite like throwing girl pitches from a little league mound and not being able to reach the backstop when you’re listening to your current favorite closer (David Aardsma, naturally) on Brock and Salk. It really puts some things in perspective. Unfortunately, none of those things was my location. Or my knuckle ball. Or any sort of 4-seamer whatsoever. But I digress…
I got home from dinner this evening just in time to tune into the first inning of the game. The attendance at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was reported at 10,000+, but looked considerably less. During some points in the game, individual conversations and words were audible. I’m not slamming the A’s here by pointing this out, it just seems like there should be a few more folks there for the second day of baseball. Maybe the economy and weather in California conspire against the club, I don’t know. It just seemed awfully hollow there.
As much as I was originally skeptical and sort of dreading this game tonight, Ian Snell had a great outing, despite us taking it on the chin in the end (we’re .500, my wishes have come true!). Snell allowed only one run in 6 innings, and even though he loaded the bases in the 5th, managed to get himself out of it. If this keeps up for a few more starts, it might almost make one think that our staff has “fixed” him. Almost. I didn’t pay much attention to his foot at all today, but I also didn’t notice it, nor did I see anyone talking about it online, so perhaps this issue has indeed been corrected (it has migrated to me, in fact; my pigeon-toed feet cause me to Snell my lead-off foot constantly – good thing I only do this for fun). Oakland’s batting order even put up a fight against Felix Hernandez yesterday, so for Snell to be able to keep them mostly at bay for 6 gives me a little confidence in and for him. Cliff Lee’s shoes are big ones to fill. Literally, I’m sure.
Snell was followed up by Shawn Kelley in the 7th, Mark Lowe in the 8th, and Kanekoa Texeira in both the 9th and 10th innings. Our pitching staff did well, it was our bats that were cold tonight. All the stuff from last night, the stealing, the aggressive baserunning, the plate patience…that all seemed to have fallen by the wayside in game 2, in favor of swinging at everything (Eric Byrnes swung at a breaking pitch so far away and down I thought for a moment he might fall on his face), not making some fairly routine plays (Jose Lopez failed to reach a ball that Adrian Beltre would have made a piece of cake), and a seeming sense of caution and playing it safe. I don’t quite get it, but it’s just one game. We always have tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Casey “Cap’n Serious” Kotchman has earned some respect knuckles for some of the things he did tonight. His defense at first was top-knotch, and I love the way he works double plays with Jack Wilson and Chone Figgins. His bat wasn’t anywhere near as on-fire this evening as it was yesterday (he went 0 for 4 tonight), but he was a force to be reckoned with at first base, for sure. During the 6th inning, he made an amazing catch on a Mark Ellis groundout that I’ve tried to find some video highlights of, but to no avail. Basically, he dove in the direction of the ball, backhand-caught it, wound up crashing to the ground, then got up and made it to the bag to get Ellis out to end the inning. Maybe some day, he’ll smile a little; that move alone was worthy of at least a small grin.
Mark Lowe and Shawn Kelley did in relief the things they do, keeping the A’s from scoring and running through the order quickly for both their innings. Kanekoa Texeira made his Mariners and major league debut tonight, and through the two innings he threw, frankly, did a pretty decent job, for a rookie. He gave up some hits, but he also struck out both Ryan Sweeney and Rajai Davis, two very real thorns in our side this series. He got himself into and out of some runner jams, and I can’t really complain. Had our offense stepped up to the plate as it were, his innings would not have been the issue they became. Everyone’s got to learn sometime, and he’s obviously earned his way onto the team. His downfall tonight was giving up a hit to Mark Ellis with men on to end the game, 2-1. Can’t win ’em all. Texeira is also the recipient of this year’s model Hello Kitty backpack – as always, a fetching shade of pink.
Loss aside, I got to see Brad Ziegler throw again, so that made me happy. He didn’t last long (quickly replaced with Craig Breslow after walking Ichiro with two out), but any day I get to see a sidearmer is a good day. Tomorrow Ryan Rowland-Smith takes the bump against Justin Duscherer, whose name I can never ever spell without looking.
Time for bed. Good night, Mariners Army!