We promised that we weren't going to be provocative here, so just the fa'ax, ma'am.
GOOD: In the first two starts, Gallardo has definitely thrown the ball a good +2 MPH harder than he has for several seasons. That's not the same as throwing it +2 MPH harder for 150 innings, but in a vacuum it is yuuuuge. (Whoops, almost got provocative...). Maybe that's what Dipoto had in mind, on some level.
Also, the Mainframe was thrilled that Gallardo came out throwing his 79 MPH curve (as opposed to his inviting little cutter/slider). It had depth and some bite, and he was able to make it break down to the knees or lower. We notice here that he threw 22 of them, way high for him, and not a single one allowed a baserunner. This has Mel Stottlemyre's fingerprints all over it.
92-94 MPH, even wild as he is, combined with an ML average overhand curve, might give fighting chances. If you are grading #4-#5 starters on a scale of 1-10 ... we rated his performance, objectively, 3 to 4 in both starts.
BAD: What Gallardo did in the 4th inning merits three or four L's for his bank account. All by itself. We haven't read the M's postgame reaction -- we try to avoid reading anything before our postgames, so they'll be fresh. But you would think that the PSYCHOLOGICAL aspect of the 4th-5th innings would have some people reassessing.
Staked to a huge 5-0 lead after only three innings, Gallardo came out in the 4th inning and was afraid to throw a strike. Was this because he's not aware of the Big Lead rule against walks, do you think, or was this because he knows he can't challenge major league hitters?
Up 5-0, he worked Josh Reddick to 1-2 and then pulled out three silk napkins to walk him. Nibble fastball, nibble "slider," then a curve on 3-2 with a 5-run lead?!. This was leading off the 4th. Then Jose Altuve, take your base and Mel Jr. came sprinting out of the dugout. What is going on here? Carlos Correa lines a single, a couple of outs, and then Gallardo with a 5-1 lead WALKS another run in, balls 3-4 so far off the plate that 100% of major leaguers would have taken them.
A single makes it 5-2 but the baserunner kill gets Gallardo back to the dugout.
It was the psychological turning point of the game. He escaped 5-2 due to the fielding out, but .... the rest of the game was a Houston Astros celebration of their ownership of the M's early season here.
That, friends, is the objective description without any intent to add emphasis. If we were adding emphasis we would be talking about body language, when the relievers were scrambled, how a 5-0 lead felt like it was only 2 runs, how we felt on this and that pitch, how Gallardo looked like he wanted someplace to hide, etc.
The objective description is simply that --- > Yovani Gallardo was given a game situation where a Grand Slam wouldn't have beaten him, and yet he knew that he needed to nibble and pick.
Krueger aptly remarked "In the Astros' bullpen when the phone rings they know who is going to get up. In the Mariners' bullpen they have no clue."
Dan Altavilla is very talented but it turns out he may not be ready for game situations on a night-in, night-out basis. Pazos also may need a month or two's work; that we don't know. And those are the two guys were were hoping could back Diaz. Scrabble threw some predictable average-solid LOOGY pitches so right now he's the #2 to Diaz by default.
The spring training bullpen had two ways it could go, and it went the wrong way. The M's would be 5-5 or 4-6 had that not been the case. They say Tony Zych is getting close; maybe he and Scrabble can take roles in the 8th.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
Never did get what was going on with Casey Fien, not that he won't be back to hold a game here and there. And don't know what's going on with Evan Marshall now.
Do know what's going on with Dillon Overton, though, and they should use him for the extra inning here or there, so they can --- > field a bench. And use it.