That went as expected. I feel a little bit bad for Baltimore. They really suck and probably won’t reach 10 wins for another month. Seriously. Thankfully, I’m a Mariners fan and it appears that the dark days like those are past us. After starting the season with a 2-6 mark and causing concern throughout Mariner nation, the M’s have rattled off wins in 7 of their last 8 games and are only a 1/2 game out of first place.
This game had two key parts that determined the outcome: Felix Hernandez and the bottom of the 4th inning. We’ll start with the latter.
Guti started the inning with an out but then the miraculous happened, Jose Lopez drew a walk! When that happens I feel like something special is about to happen. After Loafie walked, Kotchman singled and Sweeney popped out (more on Sweeney later). Tui then hit a sharp single and Lopez stopped at third. Rob Johnson hit a slow roller up the middle and somehow Tui beat the throw to second. Then Jack Wilson cleared the bases with a double. Bingo! That’s all the runs the Mariners needed. What’s even more weird is that all those RBI’s came from Hips and Hot-Hands Wilson. I was beginning to believe that Jack Wilson was going to hit about .230 all year and I was okay with that because of his amazing defense. All of a sudden, he has 4 doubles in 3 games. I hope he can continue to hit at least somewhat.
Once that bottom of the 4th happened the game was over. Most 3 run games can be a little bit tense but not this one, I had no fear that the Mariners would lose this game and that is because of Felix Hernandez. Felix didn’t appear to be very sharp early; leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate and not mixing in other pitches. He gave up four hits in the first two innings and one unearned run. But then, he got in one of those moods. You know, the “Hey, I’m Felix and I’m better than you” mood. His control got better and his other pitches became a part of the game plan. He faced Adam Jones in the 6th and snapped off a 90 mph slider to strike him out. In the 9th, he ended the game with nasty curveball that Reimold chased as it dove to the dirt. After a few games in which Felix didn’t quite look like the king we saw last summer, he found his crown tonight and showed why he’s one of the best pitchers in the AL.
Kevin Millwood was weird. I’ve watched Millwood pitch quite a bit and he’s never looked like that. I’d have to do some research to be sure but his fastball used to have a little more velocity and didn’t run so much. It seems as if he switched from a 4-seam fastball to a 2-seamer that had a little more run on it. It ranged anywhere from 86-91 mph and came in on righties. He threw his normal slider that was around 82 mph. That’s a normal Millwood pitch and was pretty effective. Then, he threw in this loopy breaking ball. It was SLOW! It came in at about 70 mph and had some major break to it. You know what that repertoire looks a lot like? Doug Fister. No, seriously. Matthew made this observation about halfway through the game and then I started to pay closer attention. Fister threw in that loopy breaking ball on Monday and had some very good success with it. So, in a week where Fister has been compared to everyone from Brad Radke to Carlos Silva, it seems like Millwood may have been trying to imitate Fister.
Hero/goat after the jump along with a few notes.
Hero: Felix Hernandez / Jack Wilson. Sorry, I try not to pick co-hero’s but this seemed necessary. Jack Wilson had a great series and needed to be rewarded for that. How many times is Jack-O going to win hero this year? He’s more of the unsung player. But, I also have to give it to the guy who threw a complete game.
Goat: Mike Sweeney. Umm… Yeah. He just wasn’t very good.
- Try to find a team with a better defensive infield than the Mariners. Jose Lopez was a question mark but he seems to have made the adjustment quite easily. Jack Wilson and Chone Figgins turn the double play very quickly and I’m fairly convinced that Casey Kotchman has a magnet in his glove. It’s awesome. Just think, we had Yuni in the infield last year.
- So, when do you cut the cord on Mike Sweeney? I was all for giving him a chance but he’s not helping the roster at all. I know he hasn’t been given much of a chance but that’s the point. If he’s not going to have much of a chance to play why not have Langerhans up here? Bradley can’t play the outfield everyday without getting a few minor injuries and having depth behind him that’s not named Eric Byrnes would be nice. We could go back to the 6 man bullpen now that the rotation is rolling. I like Mike Sweeney but I wish he was on the DL rather than taking up a spot on the roster. It’d be nice if he stopped popping up on the first pitch when he was in too.
- I’m ready for Lopez to move out of the clean-up spot. Please!
- The Mariners now go on the road until next Friday. I know visions are high right now but it’s a good goal to go .500 on this road trip. If that happens we’ll have succeeded survived the once dreadful thought of going without Cliff Lee for a month.
- By the way, in case you’ve been dead, Cliff Lee makes his Mariner debut next Friday! Cliff “Frickin” Lee!!!!!