The idea that the season really starts with Game 2 is common with baseball fans and writers. Opening day has all the ceremony and a couple of aces throwing (theoretically for some teams), but the next day brings a little more routine and Ian Snell vs. Dallas Braden. Braden was excellent. The first couple of innings, he didn’t seem like much, but the Mariners weren’t hitting him either. By the third or so, he had them in-between on every pitch. Not sure he can do that every game, but he was impressive, just one well-hit Franklin Gutierrez double away from a shut out.
I’m not quite sure what Ian Snell was. I guess you take 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks however you can get them, but he just makes me nervous. Actually, it’s not so much that he makes me nervous, it’s that I feel no confidence when he’s on the mound. It looked a little bit like smoke and mirrors today. Maybe he’ll get better. I’m not writing him off, and I’ll take that outing anytime. The problem is that if he throws like that against a better offense, the results will not be anywhere near as good. Can he improve? I’m not holding my breath. His stuff looked decent at times and very hittable at others. I guess I’ll just be happy that he didn’t get crushed and not make any judgments until we see a few more outings.
Unfortunately, the offense was everything we feared it might be tonight. They certainly ran into an unexpected buzz-saw in Braden, but without Ichi and Figgy on base as much, with Kotchman struggling against lefties, Bradley just struggling and nothing from the bottom of the order, well that’s pretty much everyone. Guti had the lone good day, and it still took a balk and wild pitch to score him. It won’t always be this bad, but we’re going to see a lot of these types of games. Some will go the M’s way, some won’t. No reason to panic, but anytime they want to trade for a big bat, go right ahead.
Hero: Ian Snell. It wasn’t very pretty, but you have to give credit to Snell, who pitched 6 innings, and only gave up 4 hits and 1 earned run.
Goat: The Offense. 5 hits in 10 innings won’t cut it. Guti had 2 of those hits so maybe he should be exempt.
- I told Andrew a couple of times Monday how natural I thought Jose Lopez looked at third, but tonight brought a few hiccups. Still, he didn’t make any mistakes due to a lack of tools that I could see. That spinning throw is something he’ll get better at. No reason to worry, I’d say.
- We definitely saw the value of Kotchman’s defense today. He gave no signs of being able to hit lefties at all, but he dug out a couple of tough throws, and that short-hop play he made was excellent. Still, amazing how much worse he looked against a lefty, rolling everything over for weak grounders. Then his first at-bat against a righty, he smoked a line drive straight to Ellis. Time to see if Sweeney can still play first on occasion?
- Bradley looks extremely uncomfortable at the plate, like he’s guessing on everything. He seemed to take better cuts later in at-bats, especially in the ninth. I’m betting once he gets a couple of hits he’ll lock in pretty good, but I’ll be anxious until that happens. The longer he goes without success, the better the chance of something bad happening.
- Welcome to the big leagues, Kanekoa Texeira! Looked nervous, but that slider/sinker/whatever is nasty. He looked a lot better than Sean White, not that that’s saying much. Getting out of a bases loaded one out situation is no small feat, especially in your debut, even if he put himself in the situation. Too bad he couldn’t do it again.
- Shawn Kelley and Mark Lowe, on the other hand. I like those guys. Kelley is a much better pitcher than Ian Snell right now. Just not sure that would hold true if he moved to the rotation.
Game 3: Justin Duchsherer vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, 7:05