Earlier today, this news came down about Michael Pineda. I saw it via Twitter, but didn’t have much time to do any reading about it. What a shame. I’m not being sarcastic about that, either. I was not happy about the loss of Pineda from our roster, and now I’m just sad for him altogether. Yankees fans would never have appreciated him the way we did, and now they’ll never get the opportunity to really see what we saw while he was here. And poor Pineda, going to a team that every player would love to play for, and having to ditch his first season there because of an injury. It sucks all around. If you’re looking for any gloating here, you won’t find it. I just feel awful about the whole situation. I can be happy that it didn’t happen here, that we didn’t have to lose him and scramble to find a replacment, but that doesn’t really go far. They say 12 months for recovery, and it probably will be, but I hope it is less, for Pineda’s sake. He may never be the same guy again. I’d like to indulge in the belief that he will be, but after seeing what Erik Bedard went through with his labrum issues, I fear the worst. Get better soon, Big Mike!
I got home in time for the second inning of today’s game, just in time to see the Mariners take three runs from the Tigers. This was in addition to the one they already had in the first inning via a series of singles. By the time dinner was ready and large dark clouds were hovering over my house, the Mariners had grabbed two more runs, giving Felix a nice comfy six-run lead.
In the bottom of the third inning, Brennan Boesch took the second pitch he saw and pulled it into the deck above right field. I don’t care how bad a pitch it was, or how impatient Boesch might have been to hit it, it’s got to feel pretty sweet to hit a dinger against Felix Hernandez. Not that I approve, but I’m not an all-or-nothing fan, so might as well give Detroit a run. I have a bit of a soft spot for the Tigers and for Detroit as a city. If the Mariners had traded Adam Jones to Detroit in my more formative baseball years, perhaps my relationship with the Tigers would be the same as my relationship with the Orioles; but it was not in the cards, so I must admire Detroit from afar.
Felix’s final line was 7 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 3 walks, and only two strikeouts, but the Tigers only had 5 hits up to that point, so I can forgive the lack of strikeouts because obviously the Mariners fielders were doing their job tonight, and there was nothing to worry about. Felix was relieved by Lucas Luetge (did it without looking), who had a nice smooth 8th inning, throwing 10 pitches, allowing one hit and getting two strikeouts. Not too shabby, and it’s nice to see someone other than Steve Delabar or Tom Wilhelmsen on the hill. Not that I mind either pitcher, but we have a bullpen full; let’s use it!
Erasmo Ramirez was sent into the 9th in lieu of Brandon League, and his first pitch was up by first batter Prince Fielder’s noggin, a 95MPH fastball. Fielder did not look happy about it, but Fielder has looked pretty glum the past two nights anyway, and I am guessing that having a baseball thrown up near your face is probably not going to make you smile at the thought of how much it would tickle. Fielder got a single out of it soon after, but I see a plunking in our future. Slow motion replay showed that there was no way that the near-miss was on purpose; I think Ramirez was just trying to pitch high in the zone and it wound up curling inwards and up. It happens. Whether or not it will be forgiven remains to be seen. Delmon Young sacrificed his turn to run in order to move Fielder to second with a grounder out. Alex Avila was the next victim with a swinging strike out, and it occurred to me that no, the Tigers are probably NOT too terribly happy about having a series taken away from them by the same team that just got swept by one of their division rivals.
Jhonny Peralta took a walk on four balls, and Ramon Santiago singled to right field to load the bases. I had a moment of terror, because it’s the Mariners and stranger things have happened with a large lead, but Don Kelly popped out on a 78MPH changeup, and the Mariners win 9-1 and take the series.
At this point in the season, Michael Saunders has had about a third as many plate appearances as he had with the Ms last year. His SLG is twice what it was during that short time. He has 5 RBI so far this year compared with the 8 from last year. He was batting below Mendoza only a few days ago, and now sits somewhere around .230 (FanGraphs hasn’t updated just yet, I don’t think, so I’m not sure of the exact percentage). That whole rubber band training from earlier in ST doesn’t seem so funny now, does it? I will be keen to see if he can keep it up, but for now it seems like he’s warmed up at least a little bit. I miss Franklin Gutierrez’s defense, but Saunders has been hitting, and that is what we need, so I’m totally content with this. Everyone was swinging and making contact tonight, and that is nothing to complain about.
So things are looking up for us now, which is great. I hope that some of the fans who were disappointed in the team’s performance against Chicago last week can find a little solace in these two wins, and especially in the 15 hits from tonight’s game. The Tigers may take tomorrow’s afternoon game away from us, and that is fine. But for now?