I’m confused. I know I should just toss the confusion and go straight for happy, but this is just really weird. The Felix Hernandez/Michael Pineda punch that we’ve been packing is disorienting and strange. It’s sort of like having Cliff Lee back, but knowing that he’s likely not going anywhere any time soon, and thinking that maybe he’ll be sign-able and therefore keep-able. It’s creepy, and alienating…and I kind of dig it, because it means that we now have two chances in five to win a game. Sorry, I just can’t let out the slack on the Vargas/Fister/Bedard leash just yet.
The more I see Pineda, the more I really like him – that sound you hear is everyone else yelling “Duh!” But with the competition from Luke French during Spring Training, I honestly didn’t think it was going to be Pineda in the rotation. I figured we’d go with the comfortable, with the more known; but I’m so very glad we didn’t. Watching Pineda throw is an absolute joy. He started out the year and still remains cool under pressure, calm, and concentrated, like he owns the mound and has always been a major league player. I can tell that very soon, I will have problems getting to the fence to take pictures of him warming up, because he is making a lot of new fans, and that right quick. I can hardly wait until fans from other teams, bent out of shape because he ran them into the ground, start calling Pineda a “punk” for wearing his hat to the side, like they did when Felix was starting to come into his own. If all they have is a style critique, I can live with it.
That said, I didn’t get to watch much of tonight’s game. I had some errands and some yard work to get done, so I took my business into the car to run those errands, and listened to the game on the radio. In the 4th inning as I was on my way back home, the game was still 1-0 in the Mariners favor. I did a few minutes of work in the front yard, and when I finally got back inside and turned the TV back on, the score was 4-0, and Pineda was still working through his pitch count. He pitched through a full 6 innings with no runs, 5 hits, and 2 walks. I didn’t see anything awful from our defense for the remainder of the game, so I’m going to assume that they did an alright job for the first half of it. I saw Chone Figgins make some nice defensive moves, so that’s certainly reassuring. Pineda’s total pitch count was 97, and apparently his speed was in the upper 90s for most of the game.
Pineda was replaced by David Pauley in the 7th. Pauley managed two batters out before he was replaced with Aaron Laffey, who continued our apparent reign of terror. Laffey’s 8th inning was quick, but it went pretty much the same for the A’s Craig Breslow, and we were held at 4 runs. Jamey Wright played closer tonight, which made me cringe a little initially. I’m still not comfortable with him, and I may never be. But the past few times Wright’s been out on the hill, he hasn’t been terrifying (“terrifying” is my only science). And right after I wrote that sentence and sang some brief praises on Twitter, Wright was pulled for allowing the bases to load…swell. With one out and the bags packed, Brandon League came in and took some practice tosses before facing Conor Jackson, who grounded into a double play, ending the game and giving Michael Pineda another win. I can totally live with this.
Other good news today has Shawn Kelley on a slow return, and Justin Smoak slated to come back this Tuesday. It feels like he should be gone longer, but maybe he’s the kind of guy that work is therapeutic for. Whatever the case, if you’re at the game on Tuesday in Detroit and you’re a Mariners fan, give him a nice welcome to the Motor City and let him know you’re there.
Lastly, and I hate to talk about bad news on top of slightly sad news on top of good news, but as a person who has given many a full 90 and beyond, thoughts and and concerns go out to Sounders winger Steve Zakuani, who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time tonight during a game against the Colorado Rapids. The link there and subsequent link to Graham MacAree’s blog at SBN are both critical of MLS’s decision to put the hit up online for people to see. I watched it, but it was not pleasant, and if you have any sort of squeamishness, I highly recommend you stay away. Zakuani looked OK as he was carted off the field, but a double fracture like that is nothing to take lightly. A lot of people were saying in various places online that Brian Mullan played cheap, and those people need to knock it off. The two players ran into each other – the same kind of collision happens on MLS fields all the time, with far less disastrous consequences. I don’t get this insistence that players are out to ruin other players careers. I know fans are mad and concerned about their team, but grow up, folks; it’s a sport, people get injured, sometimes very badly. Send Zakuani a card or give to his favorite charity, but blaming Mullan for this is just ridiculous.
And on that note, I am taking my allergy-ridden carcass to bed. Yay for winning, hope we can do it again tomorrow! 🙂
EDIT; After 24 hours of having to think about this and getting opinions and further explanations from other people that might be perhaps closer to the situation, I feel I need to clarify the above assessment. I still do not feel that Brian Mullan meant to break Steve Zakuani’s leg in two places. I have since been told that he has a reputation for being overly aggressive, and showed very little remorse for the slide itself, even outside of the fact that it resulted in such a horrible injury to another player. At this point, I would defer to MLS. The rules say he gets red carded, and that happened. But if Mullan needs to be disciplined further, if he really truly does feel that this is acceptable behavior, then MLS has a problem that it needs to address, and sooner rather than later. Zakuani’s fellow teammate James Riley had mentioned last night that he didn’t feel Mullan meant the injury to happen; but Riley was also apparently in Mullan’s face the moment that it did. I chalk it up on both parties as being in the heat of battle, and we can never really know what was going through Mullan’s head. Mullan was obviously at fault here, and I didn’t mean to infer by my last sentence on the subject above that I felt otherwise; but intent is a completely different matter – that is all I was saying.