I love these 5pm games. I step off the bus, have a little time to unwind, and baseball and dinner can happen together! I had the game on while Tom did our taxes. Even with the agonizing maybe-we’ll-hit-and-maybe-we-won’t pace of the game (and subsequent shutout), I’m pretty sure I had the better of the two jobs.
I don’t know that I necessarily expected much from this game. The Mariners are definitely different this year so far, but it is early in the year and I need to be cautious for at least the first month or two. I got way too excited way too early last year, and there are many miles to go before we sleep. It’s difficult though, to keep a level head. Every game is a microcosm, every play another reason to judge a player or the team as a whole favorably or unfavorably. And every night, I feel like I am seeing some of these guys for the first time. I actually like that a little; it keeps the game a bit more fresh and lively for me, and makes staying indoors in increasingly nice weather worth it.
Probably the thing that seemed to cause fans the most distress tonight was the fact that Brendan Ryan had been benched to be made “accountable” for an error he made throwing during yesterday’s game. While I get the point of the benching at its most basic facet, I don’t agree with it at all. As many others pointed out this evening while Miguel Olivo was sliding head first into first base to be the last out of the top of the 7th inning, Olivo has been allowed to remain in games making countless bad plays (and passing balls) and hitting miserably, but Ryan makes one error that he was visibly upset by, and he’s the one who gets the benching? I’m going to have to assume that this is some boys club nonsense that I don’t understand, because regardless of how many “conversations have been had”, you don’t keep trotting out a subpar player – especially when we have other catchers – while removing one of the best shortstops in the league from the lineup. Jesus Montero went 2 for 3 tonight as a DH, and Olivo went 1 for 8 in last night’s and tonight’s games combined. We are starting the year off by wasting Montero a little, and I find that unacceptable. It’s unfortunate that Eric Wedge doesn’t seem to.
In positive news, though, after having a 0-48 hit record against Neftali Feliz for quite some time, we actually managed to take a few nips out of him tonight. Four, to be precise. The first one came from Justin Smoak, which seems appropriate somehow (he also hit his second of the evening later in the game). The other two of them came from Jesus Montero, but I’ve already been down that road, so I won’t go there again. There were some great defensive flashes, and some not-so-great plays (it’s a Mariners game!), and there were times where we attempted to mount threats against the Rangers, but you can’t play small ball in Arlington; especially not when the Rangers cane play it so much better and bring the power when it’s needed. I’m not giving up on the small ball approach, just saying that this series is not evenly matched.
Blake Beavan did a stellar job tonight, so it is regrettable that the rest of the team could not give him any support. His final line was 6.1 innings pitched at 88 pitches with 58 for strikes. He gave up 6 hits, a run, and a walk. Three strikeouts; that isn’t so terribly impressive, but the fact that he was able to limit the hard-hitting Texans to one run is nothing short of amazing. He gets the loss, of course, but there will be other games, and lesser teams to battle. I am looking forward to seeing him take care of business, since he seems to be settling into his new role just fine. Tom Wilhelmsen also was on the button, pitching 1.2 innings of one-hit, no run ball.
Lastly, where the hell is Casper Wells? Outside of Olivo I have no real issue with tonight’s lineup, but I actually forgot there was a guy named Casper Wells on our team until someone mentioned his name on Twitter. Hilariously I have had no problems with Chone Figgins in left field – in fact during the third inning of the game, he made a great running catch on a fly off Mitch Moreland’s bat. He nearly ran headlong into the back wall doing it, but he did it, and the end result is what matters – also that he doesn’t get injured.
This team is going to be a hard one to figure out for me for a while. We seem to have the building blocks to do really well this year, and I’m liking some of the bullpen (some of them still need work), so I guess we’ll see. ‘Cuz that’s what you do with this game.