If you missed the game, here's the nuts of it. If you didn't miss the game, may we suggest Pokemon Go, which uses your five tactile senses to consistently stimulate the pleasure centers in your brain.
The game-winning RBI occurred in the 2nd inning. Nelson Cruz had a preposterous at-bat in which he:
- Fouled off 12 pitches, twelve pitchers' pitches, at various speeds and angles
- Got a 94 MPH fastball onto his right kneecap, which he inside-outed as if he were Derek Jeter ...
- ... if Derek Jeter had ever been capable of going off the right-center wall with that swing
A moment of appreciation for Mister Hard RBI. In 2016, Nelson Cruz has recapitulated the 2014 season that he had, so exactly that it's way less than random noise:
|Nelson Cruz, 2014||.271||.333||.525||55||140||40||108|
|Nelson Cruz, 2016||.280||.354||.531||53||141||35*||86*||... he's the home run LEADER over this three years inclusive|
Granted, we have advanced baseball knowledge to the point at which we finally realize that homers are a sucker stat. On the other hand, if we borrowed Biff's Almanac and it said that Dan Vogelbach was going to have the #1 homer total in the majors over the period 2017-19, even USSM might be tempted to slip the headline somewhere, like in on page A-17.
Scott Servais has explictly stated that he will play Aoki and Smith/Guti* in the first six innings, and that if the Mariners enter the 7th with a lead, Servais will then swap in Heredia and Gamel. I mean, a defensive substitution is one thing; this is a scripted three inning job share, done bilaterally on the field.
The jardinero take on Tony LaRussa's 3-SPs-per-game concept. That, or the logical culmination of defensive shifting, which DiPoto and Servais have thankfully taken to its outer rim. Lou would have done the same OF platoons if he'd thought of it, but in September he was usually busy using his ROOGY in left field. Oh, and all his benchies were Desi Relaford.
No sooner did the Skip go to his "nickel package" in the outfield Friday, than this interception occurred.
AND SINCE YOU WEREN'T WATCHING, YOU DIDN'T NOTICE THAT ...
1) The last 7 days, the Mariners have 7 batters with OPS+ from 158-322. None are Nelson Cruz or Ben Gamel. It's a light show out there, man.
2) Guillermo Heredia has a very tight strike zone and a .412 OBP the last week. He rarely swings at pitched balls and when he does, he never misses them. Those two things are smaller problems than the fact that every single swing results in a two-bounce groundout.
Which is fixable, first and foremost by taking the ball the other way (so as to catch the ball on the bottom half).
3) Ben Gamel is 1-for-8 on balls in play ... of which only one ball was softly hit. His bad batting line is an extreme case of short data (not "small sample size," obviously, which refers to representative samples excised from predictable data universes. A bin of ball bearings can be "sampled;" a week's hitting doesn't "sample" a career's worth of development or even a month's worth of enemy pitching).
And yet the Mariners deep-sixed him for that. ?! ... Seriously, we're sure they have a component reason that goes beyond three balls hit at gloves.