Before the game, Felix looked amp'ed up and ticked off. He ain't 6-0, 1.45* on Opening Days by accident.
Dr. D grabbed a fistful of popcorn, started crunching, and watched Kole Calhoun try to jump Felix from behind. Felix wrist-flipped Calhoun onto the kitchen island, head hanging over the edge of course. He delivered an 0-2 fastball to the forehead, cleanly producing dinner reservations for one.
Mike Trout ran through the hall at Felix next, producing the kind of matchup that Strat-O-Matic puts on the back of their boxes:
An individual card for each offensive player. Unbelievable realism. In your Strat-O-Matic game, Tom Brady will show the same precision on flat passes that he does in the real NFL. Houston's defensive line will put you under constant pressure. You be the coach as Calvin Johnson runs a Long Pass against Richard Sherman. You decide whether to run Marshawn Lynch on third down or throw the ball to Jimmy Graham.
After the Felix vs Trout dice rolls ... where were we, 7 pitches in and Felix had not yet thrown a pitch in the strike zone. Felix wound up for pitch #8 and Dr. D gloated about this toxic precision. As the ball was in flight, Dr. D's jaw snapped shut so fast you could hear his teeth click. Out-and-over. The ball reversed directions, clearing the CF fence by a foot or so. Jackson made a feeble attempt to bring it back. Where is Bo Jackson when you need him?
By dint of immense effort (and a Strat-O-Matic Back Of the Box player card) the Anaheim Angels had a run in the bank against Felix. John consoled me, "We had to get a run anyway, if we wanted a win." :: shrug :: Got a point, kid.
Next time we looked up, the base hits were 8:1 Seattle. If it had been a boxing match the ref would have TKO'ed the Angels in the fifth round.
Felix threw about 20 different dry spitters that showed up on F/X as having more drop than they'd have had in a vacuum. A signature Felix dry spitter ... sorry, "changeup" ... has 0-2 inches rise compared to vacuum. Today they were 0 to -5 inches to vacuum. I guess we WILL be talking about 16-5, 2.14. (In terms of hardware, though, Corey Kluber threw a good game today, though, so what's the use.)
You'll have to explain
to Dr. D to the Angels sometime how you throw a baseball 89 MPH with forward, tumbling spin. Several times the Angels swung at "fastballs" that wound up bouncing on the plate.
Felix did get through the 7th inning, meaning that McClendon needed only 4 relief pitchers to cover the 8th inning bridge to Rodney.
The beauty of Danny Farquhar is that you know you're going to get Strike One, even to the point of stupidity. Mind-bending levels of stupidity. This time we do mean it in a good way; you can't chase Danny Farquhar off the plate with whips and hot coals.
When you're up 3 with one inning to go, auto-strikes are just what Dr. Detecto ordered. In this case the Angels hit them, so McClendon went to ...
... Charlie Furbush, who is the Mariners' single legit stud reliever. There were two Anaheim Angels on base, a lefty Anaheim Angel on base ... and Mike Trout - Albert Pujols on deck. Dr. D slammed his Furbush card down onto the S-O-M playing mat. The offense rolled a 4-7. The red "lefty" side of Furbush's card read (boldface) STRIKEOUT.
From bad to worse, though. Mike Trout was the tying run, Pujols was behind him, and you had Yoervis Medina in the bullpen, along with an authentically WEIRD minor league reliever. McClendon went with Carson Smith, who sucker-shot Trout in the ankle with a curve and then flicked off a head-shot high fastball. As Trout usually does on challenge fastballs up, he crumpled to the ground.
It was the kind of at-bat that had Dr. D thinking, okay, maybe there is hope for a second legit stud reliever to shoot around corners with Charlie Furbush.
How many hours do you suppose Lloyd McClendon spent agonizing over the Justin Leone vs Carson Smith decision?
What sort of stones do you think it took to call in Carson Smith to face Mike Trout? Opening Day, and Felix' lead to protect?
The most fundamental SSI's question pre-Festivities had been this one. Is McClendon going to be able to reproduce the 2014 bullpen magic? Well, we are one game in. There is no such thing as managing a game better than Lloyd McClendon just managed it.
I'm thinkin' we're back,