The Walker vs. Hudson match-up was the toughest one for us to win, I thought coming into the 4 games against the Giants...We face Bumgarner, but counter with Felix...so that's not impossible to win. The other two are Vogelsong (snicker) and Lincecum. Happ has been wobbly of late, so we need a better effort today.
No sooner do the Mariners utterly humiliate themselves against the Lastros --- > than they roll out in San Francisco and eggsecute the world champs gangland-style. When they tell you to kneel down and put your hands behind your head, Buster, go ahead and grab a letter opener and slash your way out in style. No, seriously. Dr. D will cooperate with criminals right up until they tell him to get down on the ground; then he's going all SSI-nutso on their sorry keisters.
5 runs? In a wind tunnel? Against the champs? With a pitcher in the lineup? Vot next, a vinningk shtreak?
ARM-SWING AWARD: Nobody, really. Taijuan Walker, I spose.
Bill James' wisest single line ever. Ready for it? Okay ... "the most important difference in baseball is between being safe and being out."
When yer watch a pitcher-batter matchup, the most important difference is whether the batter (1) takes a passive, arm-only, decelerating swing versus (2) a swing with acceleration, bad intentions, and with logical timing. Tim Hudson got a few swing-throughs on sliders, but in general, something like 90% of the M's actual swings were quality.
Okay, if we have to name somebody, Nelson Cruz was fooled a fair bit, rolling over on outside sliders. Not the same thing, but yeah.
YAZ AWARD: Austin Jackson. The next level up from "arm swing" is the one that Teddy used to fix Yaz: be quick, go up the middle, have an idea of what pitch you want. AJax did this each time up, especially his last time up. Hunter Strickland threw AJax a 6th consecutive 95+ fastball (so, obviously, we had the Teddy Factor in which you "get your pitch"). Even though it was 95 and right on the hands, Jackson took his cut-down two-hand swing and just smmmmmmokkkkkked it up the middle into CF.
In the big picture, Jackson is back to his league-average slash line, and therefore is (more or less) a 3 WAR center fielder. In the smaller picture, he and Hisashi Iwakuma lead the ballclub in contact rate. Right now, slap me silly, the lad appears to be fixed.
KBIZLT AWARD: Brad Miller. In the 5th inning, got an 89 fastball right down the middle and -- for whatever reason -- let it travel 8 miles deep. He ground the thighs into the ground as always, but took a little flicky arm swing, totally covered the INSIDE half of the baseball, and zzzzinnnngggged the ball on one hop into the left fielder's mitt.
Wow. One of 11 M's hits on the night. This with the pitchers in the carousel. And with six Robinson Cano line drives finding leather.
PITCHER'S PITCH AWARD: Robinson Cano. Got a really tough 2-1 fastball in the third inning. Two baseballs' width outside, and letter high. Waited on it and smoked it ... right into the LF's mitt. (He also hit a 100+ MPH line drive into the SS's mitt later in the game.)
Now that Cano is getting his foot planted in time to clear his hips, leave us not forget that his mind is the same mind that has hit for a 140 OPS+ the last five years. You know what we mean. He still organizes his thoughts the same way against a 2-1 outside fastball as he ever did.
BACK LEG SPECIAL AWARD: Logan Morrison and Kyle Seager. It was strange to look at. Nearly every swing. That's not a cliche; that's a clipboard full of chicken scratch talking. Time after time, these guys got their pitch, leaned back, and went for 300 yards off the tee. This is the polar opposite of "Arm Swing Award."
Results being: LoMo 3 hits. Seager 3 hits, if you count that homer as two hits. Between them, they're slugging .600 the last week.
OOZ AWARD: Mike Zunino. In the fateful 5th inning, Zuumball came up with the leadoff hitter on base and 0 out. Right out of the gate, he whacked two gorgeous holdups onto Hudson fastballs ONE BALL'S WIDTH off the outside corner. 2-0 count. My son John calls this "the perfect start to the inning," leadoff guy on and 2-0 count. Gotta savor life's moments, know what um sayin'?
Later that at-bat he won the ...
IN-BETWEEN AWARD: Mike Zunino. As Mike Blowers adroitly explained ... check that, prophesied! ... during this very at-bat, it is possible to relax into an "in between" attitude when a pitcher throws less than 90 MPH, as Hudson does. The idea is that you dial your bat for 85 MPH; if it's 88 MPH you can react and take it with authority the other way. If it comes in 80 MPH it's not hard to swat it, with medium lower body action, to the pull field.
Incredibly, just as Blowers finished explaining this, Zunino got an 82 MPH slider and swatted it neatly into left field for another hit.
Time-warping back one section, did you know that Zuumball has a nice record on Out-Of-Zone swings this year? It's twue. Way better than Cano or Seager, like, WAY better, the last few weeks. Better than Cano, the whole year. The lad could amount to some thing some day.
SELF-JUSTIFICATION AWARD: Dr. D yesterday, for responding to a 13-0 M's evisceration with a post on the frequency of mid-season turnarounds. Don't overstate the point, which is merely: it's a long season, and the shot-callers have seen about 40 of them apiece.