Tag Archives: Casey Kotchman

Your 2011 Mariners- First Base

The Mariners have 4 games left in one of the most dismal seasons in history, and no one is sad to see it go.  I haven’t watched more than an a couple innings of a game in weeks.  The outlook for 2011 isn’t much better, to be honest.  Barring an unexpected and significant payroll increase, there’s not much room in the budget for big-ticket additions.  Even if there were, it’s not a great free agent class. 

Still, the Mariners need to, and will, make serious changes to the roster.  Some of this will just be with playing their younger players more, but there will certainly be some moves and fresh faces as well.  In an effort to get ready for the offseason, I’m going to walk through each position and see what the Mariners have, for both 2011 and the future, and what they’ll be losing.  I’m not going to touch on who they might add yet.  That will come later in the offseason, if at all.  Frankly, there are very few people sufficiently smart and well-connected to project those kind of moves more than a few days out.  Consider this series of posts something of a triage: which positions are in the worst shape going into next year, and which might be okay.  It’d be too depressing to start with catcher, so we’ll look at the first basemen after the jump! Continue reading


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The Worst Case Scenario? Pretty Close…

Following the ridiculous 6-5 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, I was listening to Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN, and Dave Cameron from USSM was on the show. Cameron said the pre-season likelihood that the M’s would have finished the first 34 games at 13-21, would have been about 7-10%. This number is not a scientific fact, but anyone who knows a thing about baseball can look at the roster Seattle assembled, paired with the weak division they play in, and conclude that a 13-21 start would have been tough to imagine. Is this the worst case scenario? Well, of course it’s not the absolute worst case. That would be a winless team with multiple injured starters, a manager soon to be fired, and a clubhouse that is fist fighting. But this is pretty close to the worst possible scenario I could have thought up back in March. Here are 5 reasons why the M’s are where they are. (And sorry, this gets a little lengthy)

1) Bad luck (aka sucking in crunch time)
Last year, the M’s made hay in 1-run games. Despite giving up more runs than they scored, the M’s won 85 games, which by most standards, was an anomaly. The odd that Seattle could have racked up 85 W’s last year was slim when the year began. It was a pleasure seeing my team hang on in close games and show grit time and time again. This year, the Gods have not been so kind in similar games. In fact, in 9 of Seattle’s 21 losses, the M’s either led or were tied going into the eighth inning. That is a staggering result. If the Mariners could have won even just 4 of those 9 games, we would be talking about a 17-17 team heading into the Tampa series. The worst part is that in most cases, one minor miscue has been the difference between a win and a loss. The Byrnes whiffed bunt. The Johnson passed balls. The poor execution of bases loaded in extra innings. Those are the type of missed opportunities that has defined this team through 35 games. If you care to look at just how those 9 gut wrenching games played out, take a look at the quick summaries Shannon Drayer put together-http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/mariners_blog_articles/20100513/Too-Many-Tough-Losses

2) Slow start offense
In addition to the close losses, the Mariners are not hitting. Figgins, Kotchman, Griffey, Lopez, Bradley, Moore, Johnson and Jack Wilson are all off to slow starts. Typically you assume a few regulars will start slow, but it’s hard to win when all but 2 starters are hitting around .200 or lower. The offense is without a doubt the biggest reason the M’s are sitting where they are.

3) The Bullpen
The Mariners have a solid bullpen. I’d bet as many as 4 of our relievers could be closers on some major league teams. But despite good overall stats, some untimely blow ups have resulted in numerous losses. Lowe, League and Aardsma have combined to give up 6 home runs. That’s not the astounding number though, as 6 home runs between 3 relievers in mid-May is not unreasonable. What is astounding is that all 6 of those home runs were either game tiers or game winners, and all came in the 8th or 9th innings. Ouch. Often times home runs are not all the pitchers fault, because even perfectly executed pitches can be hit 400 feet by major league hitters. A lot of the bullpen’s failures are just plain bad luck. That’s just baseball. The bullpen is not a major concern for this team.

4) Off the field issues
The Bradley fiasco and the Griffey nap have been the two biggest off the field incidents thus far. The Milton thing was almost to be expected, considering his past, while the Griffey thing has snowballed from a minor issue to headlines on ESPN. That whole thing is just weird. You could include injuries in this category I suppose, to Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and Jack Wilson.

5) Inconsistency
The problem with this team is similar to the problem with my golf game. If I’m driving and putting well, my irons and chipping are failing me. If my short game is on, my drives are erratic. For the Mariners, the offense, starting pitching, and defense was great on Thursday. The bullpen was not, and so despite playing well in 3 out of 4 facets of the game, that one poor area bit us hard. It seems like that’s how it has gone all year. We just can’t play well in all aspects, and even when we play well in 2 or 3 areas, the 1 that we suck at ends up costing us the game.

Reason for hope after the jump! Continue reading


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Game Recap — 5/11/2010

Nothing like seeing Baltimore on the schedule to cheer up a blue Mariners fan. They are really bad. And yesterday, we looked really good. It appears the team is rallying around the Griffey story and if that’s what it takes to come together, then I’m all for it.

The quick analysis is Cliff did his thing, the Tacoma bats continued their hot hitting, and the M’s took care of business in efficient fashion. Speaking of those Tacoma bats, Langerhans, Wilson, and Saunders combined to go 5-11 with a homer, 2 RBI, and 9 total bases. I especially love seeing Michael Saunders play well, because left field is a position of need for the M’s. If his early success continues, we may look back and point to his call up from Tacoma as the turning point in this season.

Cliff Lee is fun to watch. I love his first pitch strikes. I love how fast he works. I love that he doesn’t walk batters. I love his cool demeanor. I love you Cliff. Now, please engage in the following conversation, because I’ve had this dream a couple times already.

Jack Z: Hey Cliff, thanks for coming in, take a seat.
Cliff: Whats up?
Jack Z: Well, I noticed your contract is up at year’s end and, well, let’s see if we can’t figure something out to keep you a Mariner a little while longer.
Cliff: Hmm, I usually don’t do this type of thing mid-season, but I sure love being part of baseball’s best 1-2 punch. Awe heck, let’s bang something out.
Jack Z: Perfect. How about 3 years, 52 million.
Cliff: That is generous, but 55 million has a better ring to it. Deal?
Jack Z: Deal! Now, excuse me while I go get you some bats. I hear Mauer is available, let’s see what Minnesota thinks of Rob Johnson.

Then I wake up from my dream.

Some more quick notes and hero/goat after the jump! Continue reading


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Series Recap 4/26-4/28

Due to busy schedules and such the Good Guys haven’t been able to cover the Kansas City series game by game.  So, with that being said I’m going to take this weird series down with one post.  We’ll get back on our game by game schedule in this coming series.

Monday 4/26 KC – 3 Seattle – 1

This game sucked.  You can’t really sugarcoat it.  It was Felix Hernandez vs. Kyle Davies and we lost.  Kyle Davies is not a good pitcher but our lineup had no trouble making him look like a cy young.  He had a no-hitter into the 6th inning.  The one good thing the M’s did against him was get his pitch count up even when they were getting shut down.  This was a common theme this series as they did this the next night against Greinke. 

Felix was a little off his game and that’s all the Royals needed to win.  The King was good but he wasn’t his usual great self.  Felix’s few struggles combined with our lack of offense made this game very frustrating to watch. 

Getting no hit through six is frustrating in one way but what followed in the 7th, 8th, and 9th was even more annoying to me.  The Mariners got a ton of runners on in those 3 innings.  The number was close to 10 (sorry, I can’t remember exactly), yet they only drove in one run in those innings.  This is more bad luck than anything and the same thing happened to the Royals the next night.  This doesn’t make it any less annoying.

If the Mariners had this pitching matchup 10 times I’m confident in saying that they would win at least 8 of them.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be this night.  Baseball is weird.

Hero: Mike Sweeney.  This is by default.  He got a pinch hit RBI single in the 9th and that’s enough to win him the hero award.  He did have a nice little series though so that’s worth noting.

Goat:  There are so many options.  We’ll go with Chone Figgins.  He was 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.  That’s not very good.  Sorry Chone, I still like you.

Tuesday 4/27 M’s – 3 KC – 2

As much as I expected the Mariners to win the first game of the series, I expected them to lose this one.  Of course, they were playing the Royals so anything was possible but it was Ian Snell vs. Zack Greinke.  If there’s one pitcher I’d think about trading Felix for it’s Greinke.  He’s incredible.  And he was incredible on Tuesday.  The Mariners did manage to get his pitch count up and that’s what changed the game. 

Ian Snell was interesting.  The grass is green.  What else is new.  Snell only gave up 2 runs but he allowed an incredible amount of baserunners.  Fortunately, we were playing the Royals and they don’t hit very well so he was able to pitch out of numerous jams.  His stuff was decent and after the game he said that was the best his slider has felt in a long time.  This is good news since the slider is his best pitch.  This was probably Snell’s best start of the season but it’s not good enough to keep him in the rotation.  So the 4.35 million arm moves to the bullpen.  I don’t see how anyone can argue with this move and I’ll be anxious to see how he does.  He fits the mentality of our bullpen: a wild right-hander with a fastball and above average slider.  Snell could still be a valuable asset to the Mariners, time will tell.

Once the Mariners got to Kansas City’s bullpen it was game on.  When a team runs out Josh Rupe, Robinson Tejada, and Bruce Chen in succession, that team is usually going to lose.  That is not a very good bullpen.  With that being said, the Mariners used some annoying baseball to win this game.  The annoying aspect was exclaimed with Jose Lopez’ RBI double off the pitchers glove.  It’s annoying baseball like Venoy Overton being an annoying defender.  It’s annoying like when we play the Angels.  It’s annoying and it’s so much fun to win that way.

Make no mistake, the Mariners should not have won that game.  Thank goodness they did though.  These first two games show just how weird baseball can be.  There is so much statistical analysis to baseball, and I love that, but these two games show that there’s a certain level of unpredictability to baseball and that’s what makes it great.

Hero:  Milton Bradley.  Bradley was 2-3 and drew a bases loaded walk.  I love Milton Bradley.  Lookout Landing said that he realizes his job is to be an entertainer and I couldn’t agree more.  He makes watching games way more fun.  On this night, he played the role of the villain and fed off the crowds boos.  He played right along with them; taunting them back playfully and brimming with intensity.  I was following the game on Gameday so I didn’t get to see any of his antics live but caught his interview after the game.  If you haven’t already, go read some of his quotes after the game.  They are hilarious.  Milton is becoming one of my favorite Mariners and he’s been slumping.  I know he has his share of haters but I think he’s great.

Goat:  Casey Kotchman.  Kotch had a tough game.  Oh well, he’s been strong this season and after the last game in the series it’s safe to say that his was just a blip on the radar.  Don’t forget that the Mariners were facing Zack Greinke on this night.

Wednesday 4-28 M’s -6 KC -5

The Mariners won a close, weird game this afternoon.  I really enjoy day games.  Anyway, this game was awesome because Gil Meche was pitching, Willie Bloomquist was playing second base, and Yuni was playing short and they all sucked.  I don’t really have a problem with Meche but Bloomquist and Yuni are two of my least favorite Mariners ever.  When they’re at short and second together they may be the worst double play tandem in baseball.  Poor Kansas City.

Hyphen started for the Mariners and had his best start of the year.  He was very effective with his off speed stuff and probably should have only given up one run on the day.  A pop up fell in between Ichiro and Figgins because Ichiro misread it.  Smith still isn’t where he was at the end of last season but he got a little closer today.

The Mariners hit the ball hard most of the day.  It was nice to see the bats come alive before the 8th inning even if it was against Gil Meche.  Ichiro and Figgins both had great days.  The bottom of the order was pretty impressive too.  I konw we’ve addressed this before but Jose Lopez needs to move out of the clean-up spot.  Please.  Put Kotch or Bradley there.  Lopez is a pretty decent 6-hole hitter, clean-up not so much.

Jack Wilson made an absolutely amazing play in the 8th inning.  It’s been described as the Derek Jeter play but with range.  He ranged far to his right, jumped up and threw the ball to first, getting the runner by half a step.  Derek Jeter did make that throw famous but there’s no chance that Jeter would have gotten to that ball.  Yuni wouldn’t have even moved for that ball, he would have just watched it roll through the hole because there’d be no hope of him getting it.  It was an incredible play and saved Mark Lowe some trouble in the 8th.  Wilson also added a double today.

Hero:  Chone Figgins.  Figgins put together a really solid day.  He just missed a home run, which is saying something when we’re talking about Chone.  Figgy tripled, singled and walked.  He hit the ball hard.  Hopefully, this continues and his bat gets a little hotter.

Goat:  Franklin Gutierrez.  Guti just had a bad day.  0-4, it happens.

So, the Mariners are heading home with a .500 record.  This seems fitting because Friday is going to feel like opening day all over again.  This team will be the one we envisioned since December with Lee returning.  Not only does this add a talent boost but it adds a mental boost.  When you get one of the best pitchers in baseball starting for your team your confidence has to go up.  Let the real season begin!


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Saturday Recap (Huskies and Mariners)

I didn’t make it to the scrimmage at Husky Stadium today and I didn’t feel like devoting a full post to the Mariners loss so I’ll just combine the two keep things brief. 

First, the Huskies.  It should come as no surprise that the freshman running back, Deontae Cooper, was the star of the day.  He has been the Huskies best running back the entire spring (Chris Polk is sitting out with a shoulder injury).  Today he rushed 114 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries.  The backup running back job won’t be decided until the start of the season but Cooper has the early edge in my opinion.  His style is similar to Polk’s in that he’s a downhill runner. 

Locker had a decent day in ugly conditions.  The backups appeared to struggle but sometimes stats don’t tell the whole story. 

Jesse Callier, Nate Fellner, and Alameda Ta’amu sat out today.  Unfortunately, Callier may be out for the rest of the spring.  He also has impressed this spring.

Now, for the Mariners.  I was okay with last nights loss because they really didn’t deserve to win that game.  Today was a little different.  I don’t get to up and down with my emotions throughout a baseball season but today would have been a nice game to have.  The M’s fought back and, to their credit, got 2 runs off a pretty good pitcher, Jenks, in the 9th.  Then, Aardsma came in and showed why some people don’t want him to be our closer.  I think he threw more fastballs down the middle than Fister threw all game.  Granted, Aardsma throws harder than Fister but he doesn’t get a ton of movement and was facing major league hitters.  Just because you throw hard doesn’t mean you don’t have to locate your fastball.  He didn’t and he got beat.  I think he’ll be okay going forward and I’m not jumping ship yet but he scares me and will continue to scare me no matter how many saves he gets.

Hero:  Doug Fister.  Yep, he was fantastic again.  He needs to be in the rotation.  Right now he looks like Greg Maddux.  Seriously.  He’s throwing his fastball a ton and why not?  He’s putting his fastball exactly where he wants it and is getting some good left to right action on it.  Right now that’s a well above average pitch. 

Goat:  David Aardsma.  Read the paragraph above.  He was pretty awful.

  • After I called for Wak to move Lopez out of the clean-up spot the other night he’s done some good things.  I’m still not crazy about him there but at least he’s had a few decent at-bats.
  • The play where Byrnes kept the ball in the ball park caused a mix of emotions.  On one hand I’m thinking, dang it Byrnes , why didn’t you just catch it.  On the other hand, that was an incredible play just to reach the ball.  He was high on that fence and did save a run.  All in all, it was a good play but really weird.
  • I hope Milton Bradley comes back soon.
  • I saw Byrnes drop more F-bombs today than I’ve said in my life.  He’s annoying but at least he cares.  He did get screwed in the 9th inning when he beat out the throw to first but was called out.  That really wasn’t very close.
  • Don’t get too down about this.  There is another game tomorrow.  And Cliff Lee has a rehab start in Tacoma! Take the good with the bad, things are still looking up in Mariner country.
  • Casey Kotchman keeps hitting the ball hard.  That double in the 9th was smoked.

That’s it for today!  Thanks for reading.


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Mariners Game Recap – 4/19/2010 – The Fist and The 3rd!

Enter The Fist

My fellow Good Guy Andrew is scheming to recap every Felix Hernandez game this year. That’s fine, you can have Felix, Andrew, I’ll take Doug Fister!

This is a very simple recap: It’s all about Doug Fister and the bottom of the 3rd inning. Let’s cover both.

Doug Fister: The Fist pitched exceptionally well. Granted it was against Baltimore and everyone is quick to remind folks like me of that fact. I would respond that it doesn’t matter, a win is a win, he pitched against a major league lineup. I know the O’s suck right now, but Nick Markakis is good, Wigginton has been in the bigs for a while, Weiters is a rising star, Luke Scott is no slouch. Fister kept pounding the strike zone forcing Baltimore to swing and forcing the Mariners defense to make plays. This is why I love Fister, I think he knows what he is: He’s not overpowering, he doesn’t have superior stuff, but he knows how to pitch and use all the millionaires behind him. I love how he works fast, keeping the pace up. As a fan that is fun to watch. Julio Lugo (I can’t stand the guy, always has annoyed me…) continually tried to slow Fister down by stepping out, adjusting himself, wiggling around, it was absolutely annoying. No matter, The Fist was having none of it. Lugo was 0-3.

We all know Fister had a no-no going into the 7th, that was fun. Overall, a solid performance from Fister. I feel he has earned his way into staying in the rotation when Cliff Lee comes back. I see no reason not to keep him there, he is doing what he is being asked to do. Let’s not outsmart ourselves here and get all baseball geeky stats and move him to the pen for some reason. The Fist belongs in the rotation until he doesn’t deserve it any longer. It’s really simple!

Bottom of the 3rd: The inning started mundane enough, Rob Johnson flying out to center. It ended mundane enough, Rob Johnson striking out on three pitches. But what happened in the middle was pure baseball goodness, a little bit of everything for every baseball fan.

After the Robo-Rob fly out, Jack Wilson stretched a single into a double by hustling 100% out of the box, forcing a bad throw from left, and sliding safely into second with a double. Ichiro and Figgins then forced walks to load the bases. The Baltimore pitcher, Brad Bergesen, was clearly bothered by Ichiro and Figgins. He was agitated on the mound, was afraid to hit the strike zone, and Ichiro and Figgins were happy to watch him burn. I love the plate discipline both showed, knowing full well Bergesen was stressed. Gutierrez then showed yet again why he is a emerging superstar at the plate. He knew what he had to do, and under control, ripped am RBI single to left. Lopez then grounded to Wigginton who promptly booted a sure fire DP ball. Junior then singled for another RBI. Then came the power. Milton Bradley absolutely ripped a double to deep left center. It was beautiful swing and hit. When Bradley is right, he is extremely dangerous at the plate. Casey Kotchman then followed up with a mammoth home run to right.

The inning had it all: Hustle, plate discipline, a little luck, awesome oppo-field power, and Casey’s bomb. And it was quick too. It was 7-0 within 15 minutes. Game over, Mariners win.

If the M’s can keep the plate discipline going, they will score runs. Innings like the 3rd don’t come around often, so I was pleased to be able to witness it, baseball, in many respects, in it’s purest form.

Hero: Easy, Doug Fister. He came out and did work, and got it done.

Goat: Rob Johnson. He was terrible at the plate. 0-4, 2K’s, 2LOB. On a night when everyone was hitting, it’s tough to excuse this line…


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Game Recap – 4/18/2010

The thing about a 162 game season is that you can’t get too high or too low.  Things started out bleak at 2-6 and everyone was freaking out.  Then, the 4 game winning streak occurred and everyone was getting excited.  Both of these reactions were justifiable and somewhat expected but maybe a little bit over done.  The Mariners were not going to win the rest of their games and, while a sweep of the Tigers would have been nice, series wins are what this team needs to shoot for.  They have achieved that the last two series and things look promising since we’re playing Baltimore next.  All of that to say that today’s loss is not a big deal.  It’s pretty close to what we should have expected really.

Ian Snell was decent today.  Not bad, not good, but decent.  He allowed quite a few hitters to reach base but escaped trouble most of the time.  He made some really good pitches and showed the upside that people rave about.  Unfortunately, he showed his downside to: too many walks, too many hard hit balls, and an inability to get lefties out.  We can’t really make any conclusions on Snell because he was sick today and just returned from a death in the family.  Although he struggled at times, Snell was one batter away from not giving up any runs today.  That batter was Miguel Cabrera and there’s no shame in giving up a home run to him, he can really hit and proved it on that ball he launched into the upper deck.  The next two weeks are big for Snell if he wants to stay in the rotation but today gave us both sides of Snell and that means we can’t decide anything today.

As for the hitting…. Well, the Mariners proved that they still have trouble with young right-handers that are talented.  They hit some balls hard but couldn’t get anyone in.  Casey Kotchman hits righties pretty hard and definitely did that today.  There were some opportunities to score, the 8th inning was somewhat painful, but the same can be said for the Tigers offense.  In truth, the Mariners probably should have lost by more today. 

Our infield is really coming together.  Jose Lopez looks better and better at third.  He’s not Adrian Beltre but I think that he will have an above average UZR once the years done.  Chone Figgins is really quick at second.  The two double plays he turned on short hops today were very impressive.  Kotchman had another diving play today and is showing why a defensive first baseman is a good thing to have.

The best part about this loss is that we didn’t lose any ground in the AL West.  The schedule becomes pretty easy over the next few weeks while our rivals go up against some of the best teams in baseball.  This was a good series win against a fairly good team.

A few more thoughts after the jump.  Continue reading

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Game Recap — 4/9/2010

An anatomy of two half innings: 

Top of the first, Mariners up, Colby Lewis on the mound.  Ichiro doubles to lead off, Figgins walks, they go to second and third on a wild pitch with Kotchman up.  Kotchman drives in Ichiro with a groundout, Figgins is at third with one out.  Bradley strikes out, Griffey flies out.  Mariners up 1-0.

Bottom of the sixth, Rangers at-bat, a tiring Jason Vargas on the mound.  Young grounds back to Vargas for a quick first out.  Josh Hamilton walks, then Vlad scorches a pitch on the outside corner for a double, scoring Hamilton.  Cruz singles to score Vlad, on another decent pitch.  Chris Davis gets an infield single when Kotchman dives and has the ball go off his arm and bounce into foul territory.  First and second, one out, Shawn Kelley in for Vargas.  Teagarden strikes out, but Arias sneaks a single past the diving Lopez and Wilson, scoring Davis.  Borbon flies out to end the inning.  4 runs in, Rangers up 5-1.


The first inning started exactly how the Mariners would love to start every game, with Ichiro and Figgy on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.  It’s the linchpin of the Mariners’ offense.  And really, they’d be pretty happy to start every game 1-0.  They should have gotten Figgins in, but it wasn’t a bad start.  In comparison, the Rangers got Hamilton on because he’s scary to pitch to, then they smoked a couple of tough pitches and had two runs in three batters.  Not real different from the Mariners’ first at that point.  They scored in drastically different ways, but there was only a run difference.  At that point in the sixth, luck kicked in for the Rangers, with a couple of weak hits to score the final two runs.

I don’t have a lot of point in this, except that those two half innings exemplify the current difference between the Rangers and Mariners.  They were similar innings, except that the Rangers had a couple of huge hits from the middle of the order with a runner on, and then the bottom of the order kept the inning alive for an extra couple runs.  The Mariners only hit of the first was Ichiro’s leadoff double, it took a lot of work and a wild pitch to score him, and then the middle of the order couldn’t come through to add on any runs.  Both pitchers threw similarly, well enough to win if they got a few runs or were facing a weak offense.  Unfortunately, both of those were the case for Lewis and neither was for Vargas.  Will it stay this way for the Mariners all season?  It shouldn’t.  They have good hitters who just aren’t hitting.  Still, without some major line-up changes, they’re not ever going to come close to what the Rangers can run out there.  Whether that will be the difference in the division remains to be seen.

There were some positives.  Vargas looked solid until the sixth, when he ran out of gas a little and the Rangers figured him out a little.  Before that, he looked pretty similar to Braden for the A’s on Tuesday: solid command, good change.  Franklin continues to swing the bat well.  He needs to be hitting higher in the order against righties and lefties.  Kotchman hit his homer farther than he’s probably ever hit a ball before.  I’m not convinced on him by any means, but you can see the potential for him to blossom into a threat.  He’s shown more than I expected, so far.  Sean White looked solid, although it didn’t really matter by then.  Franklin had a couple of excellent catches.  And that was the game.  Better luck tomorrow.  It’s still plenty early, but they could really use a win with Felix throwing.

Hero:  No one stands out, but I’ll give it to Franklin, as the only guy who looks like he’s in midseason form.

Goat:  Milton got the biggest suckfest at LL, so we’ll give it to him.  A double, or even just a single, in the first could have made it a different ballgame.


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