I'm sorry. That title doesn't make a lot of sense. But after last night, not a lot does. Felix pitched like a king last night. He was incredible. The intensity of the two strikeouts (two of his 12) with the bases loaded in the eighth was only matched by the letdown of Jack Hannahan's game clinching single off of Brandon League that ruined the night for Felix and Mariner fans.
This Cleveland series ultimately represented blown chances. An 8-1 lead turned into a 9-8 loss. A near perfect performance from the King turned into a 2-1 defeat because our closer couldn't hit his spots. I predicted the M's would lose two out of three, but not like that. Seattle should have swept.
Fortunately, the way baseball works, the Mariners play again today. They get a fresh chance to redeem themselves in a weekend series with the White Sox, who come in having lost four of five. Recently, they won just one game in a four game series with the Orioles. The won just three of seven games on the home stand that ended yesterday. That's not saying much, considering the Mariners will have that same record if they lose tonight. At any rate, three games means three match ups.
April 20: Hector Noesi (1-1, 5.73) vs. Chris Sale (1-1, 3.09)
I know Seattle. Today is 4/20. This may not be a very well attended game. On the other hand, the 7:10 start time could be perfect for business.
Stoner: Wow, I'm so high right now.
Other Stoner: Yeah, me too bro. 4/20 right?
Kid who's smoking for the first time: Me too guys! I'm sooooooo baked.
Stoner: Shut up pussy.
Other Stoner: Yeah, no one cares what you think. Let's do something really stupid.
Weed Virgin: Mariners game anyone (jokingly)?
Stoner: Yeah! That's a great idea! Let's do it.
Other Stoner: You're alright kid, you know that.
Weed Virgin: (smiles to himself feeling accepted)
See, the reason I don't smoke is I don't want to be that guy. Because I totally would suggest to go to the Mariners game. Except the stoners would probably look at me like I'm crazy. Oh, I almost forgot, the game! Noesi and Sale find themselves in similar situations. Both have the expectations of their fan base and franchise to be a future star. However, neither pitcher is in a really high pressure situation. They have both come out of nowhere to gain these expectations. If Hector Noesi can continue his previous form, then the Mariners can win. If he struggles to find the zone like he did in his debut in Texas, Mariner fans will continue lighting joints and crapping on the state of the Mariners well into the night. Let's be real, they'll probably do that anyway.
April 21: Blake Beavan (1-1, 2.70) vs. Phil Humber (0-0, 1.69)
Fun fact about Phil Humber. He became the second to last player on an opening day roster in Major League Baseball to appear in a game. The last player has yet to appear. Who is the mystery man? Why Hisashi Iwakuma of course! But no one cares about him. Blake Beavan has pitched brilliantly this season. Consistency is the key with him. He throws strikes, throws about eighty percent fastballs, and gets outs on fly balls. He gets outs on fly balls? That's risky isn't it? Well, the answer is yes, but not at SafeCo Field. Kyle Seager hit a home run last night that Shin Soo-Choo caught at the warning track. Blake Beavan uses the Safe to his advantage, and that makes him a great fit for the back end of the M's rotation. While he may not be a long-term option, his consistency will help ease the transition of the M's rotation from average to elite with the introduction of the big three in the next two years.
April 22: Kevin Millwood (0-0, 6.30) vs. John Danks (1-2, 4.82)
To me, Kevin Millwood means consistency when I hear his name mentioned. His last start did quite a bit to refute that. Entering the fifth inning with an 8-1 lead, he left it with the lead nearly gone. The Mariners went on to lose that game, and blow yet another opportunity to improve and learn how to win. Millwood needs to improve on Sunday. The Mariners will need him to pitch six solid innings, since a Mariner killer takes the hill for the White Sox. John Danks sucks. But whenever he opposes the Mariners, he somehow flips a switch and pitches like an absolute boss. Last year, Danks started 0-8. Even with those struggles, he managed to rise to the occasion against the Mariners and shut them down. The Mariners have a good chance to show continued improvement in this series, especially against a guy like Danks.
Three to watch:
Michael Saunders: Through 13 games, these are the Condor's numbers: .225, one homer, five RBIs, six runs scored, and two stolen bases. Pretty meh if you ask me. This is about what we've come to expect from Saunders over the last few years. That being said, those numbers are pretty elastic early on in the year and will likely swing one way or another. This series could really contribute to that swing. Saunders has hit the ball hard in 2012. Of his nine hits, four are doubles, and he has the one homer. So he's not just punching jam shots in between right field and second base. He's cranking the ball. If he can keep ripping it, his average will increase. This weekend could start that upswing.
Brendan Ryan: Of the nine regulars that have played at least ten games in 2012, Brendan Ryan's .200 batting average ranks second lowest. Now take those same nine regulars and examine on base percentage. Brendan Ryan leads the Mariners with a .349 on base percentage. What the hell? That's a weird stat. Ryan has just as many walks (seven) as hits. That's great patience from a number nine hitter who usually swings pretty freely. His OPS among those regulars only trails Kyle Seager as well. Brendan Ryan is hitting .200, but has pretty gaudy stats outside of that, thanks to his walks. He can really help the Mariners by keeping that up. He already has, scoring a team high ten runs.
AJ Pierzynski: The White Sox's long time backstop has started off the year absolutely en fuego. His numbers: .400, four homers, 13 RBIs, .829 slugging percentage, and a whopping 1.250 OPS. Quite a revival for a guy clearly in the twilight of his career. He's kind of a legendary douche though, so I hope the Mariners end his hot start this weekend. Plus, as a Mariner fan, I can't stand catchers hitting well. That's cheating right?
The Mariners have the advantage in this series. They have better pitchers, are playing at home, and the White Sox have lost four of five. Yet somehow, they always find a way to screw that up. Hector Noesi versus Chris Sale will provide a lot of intrigue, but I think Noesi will pitch slightly better and the M's offense will have plenty of motivation after last night's nap of a game. M's win 5-3. Game two features Mr. Consistency Blake Beavan against the obscurity of Phil Humber. I'm leaning Beavan here. Seven solid from him, followed by Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush after the M's blow it open. M's win 7-2. On Sunday, the Sox will be out for revenge, and John Danks is pitching, which usually ends poorly for the Mariners. The M's bats take a nice Sunday golf nap, and Danks beats them 5-0. That would leave Seattle at 9-8, with some hope of staying over five hundred through April, before heading out on a rough road trip. #FreeJaso. Go M's.