Writing Mariners, for amigos who hate watching the Mariners, presents its own challenges. On the whole, though, it's both amusing and less difficult, therefore a gratifying pursuit. Observe as we simply, and quite objectively, describe the action on Friday:
1. James Paxton blew away the leadoff hitter on five fastballs. DeShields never got a sniff.
2. The TV guys warned that Shin-Soo Choo was way dialed in.
2a. K-Pax rocked, pinwheeled, and fired a screaming meemie, knee-high:
2b. Choo leisurely rocked, pinwheeled, and hit a 150 MPH bullet back through the box. Think Charlie Brown upside down and spinning. Think what a perfect paste-in that would be right here, except for we don't want to write Peanuts, Inc. and get permission. Well, we can link, at least. Imagine if you could throw 95 MPH, and you threw that 95 MPH into a teacup, and then imagine this happening as a direct result. I just don't get modern athletes.
2c. Dr. D wondered, for the thousandth time, how saberdog lifetime baseball fans deny the existence of hot streaks.
2asterisk. Next time Choo was up, EXACTLY! I mean EXACTLY! the same thing happened. Paxton even used the same shoulder-duck-protects-your-head motion on the mound. No, we're not kidding.
3. One on, one out, one ball, one strike, James Paxton threw a fastball that very nearly hit Adrian Beltre in the knee. The radar gun read 96 MPH. Beside that pitch in the dictionary, you have the entry "The Ultimate Baseball Weapon." The caption on the next line is structural, by the way.
3a. Adrian Beltre rocked his knee back and shocked a frozen rope into right field for a single.
4. With Gallardo, Hamels, Faulkner, etc., Dr. D wondered when the last time was, that he saw a team this *HOT.* The answer: that time the Nationals came into Safeco.
5. Prince Fielder came up to bat. The TV graphic said "4-for-5 vs James Paxton" or something very similar. Dr. D's eyes looked as puppy-dog sad as, say, those of James Paxton right before he blows Prince Fielder away. Using two hands on those hammer-box TNT devices. If you want technical-type details, it was
- Smokeball, garbage swing, Prince Fielder wondered what he ever saw in the game of baseball
6. Mike Napoli walked. On Strike Two. To load 'em up. I've been told that bases loaded, two out, power pitcher on power hitter is an exciting situation.
7. K-Pax detonated Mitch Moreland. With two hands on a plunger-box thingie. Using a 96 MPH left-on-left fastball, letter high, that was just a rumor to Moreland. This time there was a wispy mushroom cloud in the batter's box, about eight feet high or so.
This, gentlemen, was the James Paxton of late 2013. The one who was at once (a) a major work in progress, and (b) unhittable. Just like Randy Johnson 1991. I think I'm going to cry.
There was a later AB, forget who, where K-Pax started with a gorgeous 86 MPH change. The AB was, of course, a strikeout. Anytime K-Pax gets the hitters at all "in between," the argument is completely over. The only reason he ever gets hit is because they're sitting fastball only. One of these days, man, one of these days...
Came in to close the fifth for Paxton, who was on a pitch count. His first two pitches had me out of my seat. Din't reconize 'im. Not whatsoever. He crouched his shoulders, kept his head leaning to 3B, and stayed as compact as a potato bug all the way through. Rather than flinging the ball, he drove it.
- Hot fastball, called strike one (on Napoli).
- Invisible change curve, garbage swing strike two.
- Hot fastball 0-2, Napoli took an emergency swing and bounced into a GIDP.
But the next inning, Farquahar's shoulders and head leaned back to 1B, he went to the cutter, and the old Danny was back. Old Danny, with everything he's doing wrong, is still an 8-9 strikeout reliever.
If you're one of the many in-house Mariner stat geeks lurking here, you know who you are. Review the video, confirm that Dr. Detecto is once again correct about the potato bug thing, and relay it to Chris Woodward or somebody who can follow up. Drive home safely.
Dr. D couldn't believe his eyes when the M's took him up on his offer to put Elias in the bullpen. (Yes, we're back to tongue in cheek. But not about Farquhar, potato bugs, fastballs and curve balls.)
Elias started out 3-and-0 on some left hand hitter. Checking it ... oh! It was none other than Shin-Babe Choo. And on Elias' face, you could see every negative emotion he ever had in Tacoma.
He came back to fan Choo, and strutted off the mound like a peacock. But the scent of the mini-tantrum lingered. And SSI recalled that Roenis Elias does not have a scintillating track record in responding to baseball disappointment. That could be a makeup issue for major league relief pitchers, I dunno.
Mark Trumbo lined a single to lead off the sixth inning, and Jones came in to run / play center. Jones is what, 28/29 on stolen bases? That's the same thing as adding 26 walks to his career 350 PA's, which makes him ... oh. Still the kind of thing pitchers focus on to go to sleep and dream like babies. But what a benchie.
The point is, Gallardo, one of their aces, is a power righty with a slow motion. Here we go, 29/30 and a tasty little insurance run. Lemme pause this and go get a ham-and-butter-on-wheat-toast with mineral water.
Except! Before we can even get fully out of the bean bag chair, the Ranger manager (who knows or cares who he is) pops out of the dugout and yanks Gallardo at 90 pitches. So that a lefty scrub reliever could hold Jones on. Now that, we are here to tell you, is the power of speed. It's worth more than a 101-game win starter.
Granted, the lefty Seth and LoMo were up next and the scrub reliever is the next Chris Sale. But that had little to do with it.
ON THE WHOLE
Astros lost! Astros lost! M's down only 5, with fourteen full games remaining!
Saturday's game is pregnant with possibility. If the M's can cobble out a lucky win, they got Felix Sunday. Wow! Just like a pennant race....