Several times the M's got in crucial situations and the batter got ahead in the count only to take the best pitch he would see all day, then flail helplessly at pitchers' pitches after that. I honestly don't remember the particular batter and at-bat, but watching the game by myself at one point I muttered out loud "THAT was your pitch." Then after he struck out I just got disgusted and turned the game off. Oh, and when I did, I muttered to myself, "The M's are playing checkers, and the A's are playing chess."
In 1996, Greg Maddux lost the sixth and final game of the World Series. Jeter, and Boggs, and Bernie Williams had taken his best pitches the other way, had stacked up a double handful of singles, and they beat him 3-2.
He said something very odd. "It's hard to get people out," said Mad Dog, "If all they want is a single."
As the M's go into Texas after a horrible, painful weekend that could make you swear off baseball ... Robinson Cano is faced with a return-of-service. Derek Jeter does have 5 World Series rings, you realize. He did get them as a result of carrying the flag, up front, during Yankee parades to the plate against great pitching.
People outside Seattle don't "get" Russell Wilson, right? You'd have to watch him play. You'd have to watch Wilson, and you'd have to watch him weekly, and you'd have to watch him respond to crises. Time after time. Then you'd "get" him.
And people outside New York don't get Derek Jeter.
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES
The devil's in the details. Let us absorb the unbearable pathos of an entire French Shutout Revolution through our consideration of the tragedy of a single Charles Darnay ...
On Saturday, the M's were 6-and-3 coming off of the c'est prepondere heroism of Felix. But in the top of the 1st, Erasmo caked out and hung a slider to put the M's down by two runs.
The feisty M's came back in the bottom of the second against Sonny Gray, who is the heir apparent to the aristocracy before him (Tim Hudson and Danny Haren).
Abraham Almonte lined a leadoff single
... THE OTHER WAY ...
and then Brad Miller, taking a cut-down swing (yes, he did), hit a line drive about 85 MPH
... UP THE MIDDLE ...
And, boom. The Mariners had two baserunners against a great pitcher.
Following which Sonny Gray, pitching rather nervously, nibbled-and-picked against Justin Smoak to go down in the count, 2-and-0. I can't think of a good line on which to finish Chapter One. Would that have been the most effective last sentence, Gordon, to just finish with 2-and-0?
Or ... "The Seattle Mariners looked up at the Bastille, considered the guards at the door, and reflected. Then, as one, they moved forward."
On 2-and-0, Smoak loaded up for a 425-foot shot off the Hard Rock Cafe. He didn't get quite the tater pitch he wanted, so Mighty Casey tensed his muscles, let the strike go by. "T'aint my style," said Case.
(Is this now a mixed metaphor, or a garbled literary satire, or just a complete waste of a post, or what is this?)
"Not your STYLE?!," moaned Dr. D. "How many swings have you TAKEN with that net in the way?!"
On the second pitch, 2-1, here came a fastball and it split the plate, exactly thigh-high. The Mighty Case tensed his brawny arms again, and let the pitch go. "STEEE-RIKE TWO!" quoth the French Government. :: mixed metaphors can make for a fine Monty Python skit :: "Kill him! Kill the ump!" quoth the starving crowd. "Let them eat cake!" saith Howard, up in the suites.
Emboldened by Justin Smoak's refusal to step into the fight, Gray bounced back from his two lousy pitches and threw a good one. It was strike three.
On precisely those two Sonny Gray pitches -- the ones on 2-0 and 2-1 -- the Bastille of the entire Mariner weekend breached, and was overthrown. The baseball was miserable from those two pitches forward.
Examples could be multiplied. We're just illustrating here; there were at least 50 different pitches this weekend that completely removed Dr. D's will to compete. Not because of the quality of the pitches, but because of the Mariners' confusion and passivity.
Down by 3-1 in the ninth inning Saturday, the Mariners got two runners on base because Willie Bloomquist and Dustin Ackley gave the Mariners
... TWO SINGLES UP THE MIDDLE, INTO CENTER FIELD ...
And then, with the tying runs on base, Michael Saunders stepped up. If it were you, what would you be hoping for, on the first pitch?
>Corey Hart (although his game is inherently "greedy" by virtue of his body type, not his personality)
With Mike Zunino being kind of a special case. He's not greedy, but by normal rights, he should be in AA. (Jeff Van Gundy had a hilarious comment after the 7'8", 350-pound Roy Hibbert got snuffed under the rim by two tiny Thunder players, followed by boo'ing from the crowd. "You don't boo that," Van Gundy said, absolutely straight-faced. "You boo for lack of effort. That's just lack of ability.") . The Good News Against Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Mariners were not yet greedy. They went in hungry and ready for a full-throated battle. They fought admirably. The point is, they're capable. And this whole question is moot in Texas, against everybody but Darvish. Go ahead and chase the two-walks-and-420-foot homer, and then thud heavily around the bases in triumph, glad to be born a baseball player. Against Colby Lewis, the approach is appropriate. But get your head on straight against Yu Darvish, or the next morning, again we'll be hearing the protests about how early it is. ....... In the meantime, Robinson Cano said this morning that he has nothing to say this morning. That ain't good enough, bro'. BABVA, Dr D
With Mike Zunino being kind of a special case. He's not greedy, but by normal rights, he should be in AA.
(Jeff Van Gundy had a hilarious comment after the 7'8", 350-pound Roy Hibbert got snuffed under the rim by two tiny Thunder players, followed by boo'ing from the crowd. "You don't boo that," Van Gundy said, absolutely straight-faced. "You boo for lack of effort. That's just lack of ability.")
The Good News
Against Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Mariners were not yet greedy. They went in hungry and ready for a full-throated battle. They fought admirably. The point is, they're capable.
And this whole question is moot in Texas, against everybody but Darvish. Go ahead and chase the two-walks-and-420-foot homer, and then thud heavily around the bases in triumph, glad to be born a baseball player. Against Colby Lewis, the approach is appropriate.
But get your head on straight against Yu Darvish, or the next morning, again we'll be hearing the protests about how early it is.
In the meantime, Robinson Cano said this morning that he has nothing to say this morning. That ain't good enough, bro'.
Well put, Doc. ESPECIALLY Smoak and Saunders...those two should get fined every time they stand there with the bat on their shoulder. Not every time they take a pitch...we want them to take bad pitches...but there are times when they are literally up there INTENDING NOT TO SWING NO MATTER WHAT...and enemy pitchers no this about them.
0. 1's and 2's are just that because they don't serve up many "Cream this Pitch" pitches. You beat them by not helping them out. A bad hack at a bad pitch doesn't kill you against Noesi because he'll give you plenty of center-cut options to smash. Not getting solid contact against the few mistakes Felix makes will doom you, because you won't get many others. Which is basically what Doc said.
1. Hart seems to be the classic Carrion Feaster to me. Hang one and it's Keith Jackson time! You know, "Whoa Nellie!" But he's less of a pitch stalker than he might be. He's only walked more than 50 times in a season once in his career. His career walk rate is .58! Two of his homers this year were on completely hanging curveballs. He should have wasted those...and did. But one long drive to center notwithstanding, he's still really struggling. If a pitcher throws the bendy stuff up and in he doesn't get that ball back. If he doesn't, and he keeps the ball away, Hart doesn't help himself out enough. Man, he's only had one walk this season.
2. Romero is pressing and he's even missing the pitch (or not swinging at it) that he obliterated in ST, the 1st pitch FB. He's either about to get more comfortable and have a minor explosion, or get lost and have a minor implosion. I would still give him the everyday RF job, letting him know it is his, and see if he relaxes and finds his mojo. We may find out that he doesn't have it, which means Gillespie gets a shot. BTW, he's 0 for his last 8!
3. Smoak is and has been and will be Justin Smoak. He OPS+'ing 110 and doing it exactly like he's always done it, with no average, some walks and 20-25 homer mash. The goal for him is 120. Get that and be satisfied. His hot streaks won't be any hotter if he gets there, it's just that his abysmal streak will be a bit shorter.
4. Zunino hasn't walked ONCE!. Last year he walked 76 pts. He was over 80 in the minors. C'mon Kid, which is it?
5. Seager, on the other hand, has TWICE as many walks as he does base hits. Sigh........
6. Michael Saunders is Michael Saunders. Basically that's Smoak minus a bit of pop. Oh, Saunders is just frustratingly mediocre ALL the time, while Smoak goes from bopping to flopping in the blink of an eye. Overall, about the same minus a few homes. Saunders' bat plays in CF, kind of, not so in RF. I will give McClendon credit, for he's seen that.
7. It looks (or will soon look) like Morrison's Year-2 was an outlier. He hit 23 homers in 462 AB's that year. He's hit 19 homers in the OTHER 853 AB's in his career. (6 in his last 300) Actually, his best offensive year was actually Year 1, '10, when he hit 2 homers. You know, batting in the #2 spot over his career he's a .301-.415-.480 guy with a ton of doubles. Move him down the lineup into an RBI slot and his performance drops dramatically. Most of that performance was in '10 where he was .320-.433-.514 batting second and .175-.257-.254 elsewhere. If you're going to use him, move him to the #2 slot in the lineup, Mac. He's an OBP/doubles type of guy, not a masher and RBI guy.
8. Thank God for Ackley.
9. I'm not whining about Miller, he looks like Willie Mays compared to Ryan's bat.
10. I still like Almonte. Not sure I like him as a 162 game lead off guy. Speed is nice, but it isn't lead-off nice if it is on base only 30% of the time.
It was a terrible/no good/couple of days at the plate........
Let's hope it is only that. But it is worth remembering that guys are who they are.
Safeco still intimidates Smoak. First road trip, he was swinging easy and hitting well. First home stand, he's back to over swinging and popping out to the warning track. First game in Texas, he's back to swinging easy again and gets a couple of hits. When Smoak is swinging from the heels with that loooooong swing, he's just not productive. At some point, you figure that he would figure that out.
Maybe we could give Smoak a soft Home/Away platoon? Let Romero/Hart/LoMo get half of the home 1b starts... Has there ever been a home/away platoon in the MLB?