I was able to watch up until about the 7th inning of the game last night until I was literally unable to keep my eyes open. When I wandered off to bed, the score was 4-1 in favor of the Ms. I see that it ended with a run per inning after that to end the game at 7-1. I was happy about that, as it gives us an automatic series split, which is always nice to start off the year on. I am excited about this season still, but am trying not to flip out too much just yet. One game at a time. Even with the crazy amount of home runs that have already been hit over the past couple of days, I’m merely trying to keep my expectations not necessarily low, but at a relatively even keel. Just going to spend the season watching and listening to as much as I can, hoping for the best and expecting the worst. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much how I deal with life; it appears that baseball and I have come to an agreement.
Tonight’s game started off well enough, with Franklin Gutierrez hitting one over the left field wall on a 4th pitch 4-seamer. He was followed by Michael Morse doing the same thing a short while later, on the same exact pitch (an 86MPH fastball) but over the center field wall.
But our luck did not last long. I don’t know that much about Joe Saunders, but apparently, he has some massive platoon splits, and that really started to show in the bottom of the 3rd (thanks, Brett!). I sincerely hope that this is not indicative of all of his performances against right handed hitters for the rest of the season. I just remember him eating us alive every year when he was in Anaheim. Then again, I could be confusing him with John Lackey…or a younger Joe Saunders. Saunders gave a double to Coco Crisp, then proceeded to walk both Jed Lowrie and Chris Young to walk the bases. The tie was achieved at the hands of Yoenis Cespedes, who sacrificed himself to Franklin Guiterrez so that Crisp might live. Saunders managed to get himself out of the inning with just that one run.
More trouble came in the bottom of the 4th, when two runs cut their way past what seemed to be very deliberately slow pitching by Saunders. Some fielding weirdness between Robert Andino not catching a Nate Freiman pop up and Michael Morse almost running into Andino allowed Freiman on base. Had that not happened, maybe we only would have been down by 1 after the 4th, but who knows. Saunders was even trying to throw in and down on righties, but to no avail. He was pulled after pitching four square innings, and Kameron Loe took over in the 5th.
Loe’s 5th and 6th innings were all very well and good, but in the bottom of the 7th he gave up back to back dingers to both Jed Lowrie and Chris Young. Lowrie’s came on an 83MPH changeup, Young’s on a 78MPH slider. From a distance and with his hat brim down, Loe bears a striking resemblance to Jarrod Washburn. Unfortunately tonight, his pitching performance was not on par with the last time we saw Wash in a Mariners uniform. What we saw tonight is what history has apparently told us, Loe is not good for more than two innings. Eric Wedge tried to squeeze a third out of him and we suffered a little more for it. We would not have won anyway, but if tonight is a true performance from Loe, when he goes downhill, it’s without brakes and very fiercely. Charlie Furbush took over for Loe in the 8th and didn’t cause much damage, although it was obvious that all the arms tonight might have been just a wee bit rusty.
I am hoping that the sentiments expressed by many on Twitter tonight – that the bullpen is now a point of concern – is inaccurate. But I don’t think that it is. Furbush almost tossed away Felix’s win on Monday night, and he wound up with some pretty wild pitches on his hands this evening, one of which hit Josh Reddick.
Other than the loss (and we all have to lose sometime), the Mariners fielding was not too shabby. There was a nice relay from Jason Bay from the left field corner to Brendan Ryan to gun down Nate Frieman at the plate. I feel a little better about our catcher situation this year already. That might be ill-advised, but I don’t care. Our Rob Johnson and Miguel Olivo days are behind us now. I’m good with the Montero/Shoppach team. It’s been a while since I could say that, so yay.
I have officially stayed up far past my bedtime, so here is an abrupt end to this. I might try to give Brandon Maurer’s first major league start a listen tomorrow at work if the AM airwaves cooperate with me, but I am super bummed out that I can’t actually watch it. I do hope he does well. And now, ’tis sleepytime.