The Mariners won their North American opener last night by the Mariners-relative blowout score of 7-3. If you watched the game, you saw The Home Run. Yoenis Cespedes, the Castro evader now worth $36 million, blasted a ball so far out to center field that there aren’t really words to say about it. It was magnificent. It was maybe the most impressive home run the majors will see this year. Jeff over at Lookout Landing has about 500 more words on it, so find a replay and then read those. What’s gotten almost as much play is the fact that Cespedes stood watching his home run for a bit, and Jason Vargas didn’t care for that. Showboating is one of those longstanding baseball things you just don’t do, but that’s dumb. Everyone else got to sit and watch the home run, so why shouldn’t the man who hit it? If Vargas doesn’t like it, he or another Mariner can plunk Cespedes in the ribs sometime in the near future. We certainly play him often enough.
Keep watching those home runs, Yoenis, if you can keep hitting them like that. I’d stand there watching too. Now, a few more notes:
- Bill Krueger pointed out immediately after the home run that it’s becoming clear that Cespedes has a slider-speed bat (meaning he can’t hit an above-average fastball, for those who don’t speak baseballese). Whether this proves to be true or not, I thought it was a good glimpse into the mind of a pitcher and one of the only insightful things I’ve heard Krueger say. While everyone else was in awe of the homer, Krueger, and probably the M’s staff and all the scouts in the building, realized it came on an 84 mph fastball down the middle. It was obviously a mistake pitch and any big leaguer would have hit that a long way. Tom Wilhelmsen and Steve Delabar bore out Krueger’s analysis later, sitting Cespedes down on mid-90’s heat. With Cespedes being new to the league and to America, the book on him is being written on the fly. Mistake pitches happen on occasion, but I can guarantee anything that’s not thrown in the 90’s will be well off the plate until he shows he can lay off it or hit the hard stuff.
- The other big story was Chone Figgins looking like the Figgins of Angels’ lore. He had a couple of solid singles, two beautiful bunts that brought in runs (one on an error), and seemed much more likeable than at any other time in his Mariner career. It probably won’t last, but let’s pretend this is a rebirth, at least until tonight proves otherwise. He also lost a ball in the lights, but that happens. It should only remind us that being small and fast does not necessarily make you a better outfielder than, say, Mike Carp.
- Great production from the bottom of the order. Brendan Ryan hit the ball hard and made a beautiful slide to score on a sacrifice fly. Michael Saunders smoked a ball to dead center. I thought Cespedes would track it down, but it rocketed over his head for a double. We keep saying that we have to wait and see on Saunders, and we do, but he looks so much better. The swing is good, and his body language is great. He looks like he belongs and he knows it.
- The bullpen looked a lot better tonight, sort of. Steve Delabar looked great in getting five straight outs. Wilhelmsen had a few issues, one being the aforementioned ball dropping in front of Figgins, but he came out of it fine. I have no idea what League looked like because Root lost its video feed. Annoying. The bullpen will be a work in progress all season, but seeing Delabar throw like he did was encouraging.
- Dustin Ackley’s the man. Kyle Seager might reach that status soon. Montero and Smoak look like they’re scuffling a bit, but it’s only been three weird games. They’ll come around.
I’ve got to run, but Felix is on the hill tonight. Happy Felix day! How about a no-hitter? That’d be fun. Have a good weekend!