hoping for another 90 or so ;-) This club does have the potential with Paxton atop the rotation and the offense looking dangerous against the best pitcher in the AL.
.... for the best game recaps, take off and cruise the 'net. For the Crunch on why the game played out 2-1, check SSI's posts and comments threads. This morning Dr. D can only heat the pot up, for others, though; the Denizens will have to fill the pot with the potatoes. Got other stuff goin' on. So just the whitest parts of the chicken breast to start:
As Bill Krueger pointed out, the day will come when Eddie can go 0-1 with a fastball on the black. When that day comes, it's lights out. That'll do for us too. When Diaz can routinely paint an 0-1 advantage, we'll relish a long long series of victory celebration type saves.
Until that day comes, you get the 1992 Randy Johnson: a kid who will pitch himself into trouble and who will pitch himself out of trouble. In his defense:
1) A 1-run lead is a Tough Save sabermetrically; against the middle of the Indians' lineup it's ... well ... something you couldn't do, brother.
2) Eddie's Three Big Mistakes: two HBP's that only just barely narrowly by the skin of their teeth by a whisker almost didn't touch Encarnacion and Chisenhall, and a "balk" (a pause too short) that might not have been called.
3) Despite these, Eddie saved the game. He can close for my ballclub any time.
SIX DIFFERENT M'S PITCHERS
Is six different chances to catch a pitcher on an off night. It is NOT as if the Seattle Mariners have five different RP's with K's over 10+ and BB's of 1.37; they traded that man to the A's for the man playing in front of Dan Vogelbach. If you HAD five dominant guys and those guys had BB rates of 1+, then sure, go a hitter at a time.
Servais brought in Dan Altavilla in the 6th to throw 3 pitches and, completely out of gas, Altavilla hit the showers to be replaced by Scrabble who threw 1 pitch and yakked on the mound at the finish line of his own marathon stint.
Nick Vincent followed and that was the guy with the off night; Dr. D disliked the location of Vincent's pitches. The point is, when you bring in a RP and he is throwing really well, you should let him roll.
The M's won't do that because somebody read it on a blog; they're still run by "checks and balances" and a huge committee. Servais will go a hitter at a time and we will go white knuckle.
The Ms offense gives them a puncher's chance. I read it on the net ...
Earl loved to get an offense that could hit the 3-run homer. Then you get up against a Corey Kluber and you can beat even him. ... oh, speaking of 170 PX
Servais said that Zunino felt just a slight pull in his last few swings and the doc said that with the off day Friday, 48 hours was ---- > the better part of valor. He sounded sincere. So until Dr. D hears different, he will take Scott Servais at his word and believe that the M's were mostly just being careful.
In the meantime, Mike Marjama took a hit to the hand by EDWIN ENCARNACION OF ALL PEOPLE and then spent the rest of the night taking fastballs to the mitt. I'll remember that pain-tolerance space opera all the rest of my born days.
If he'd had to come out, no, they wouldn't have handed Servais the catcher's gear for one last run; Zunino would have come in to catch only, and then stand at the plate like Eddie Gaedel (which see) for a bunch of called strikeouts.
DEE GORDON'S NIGHT
In the 7th, a high pop fell into No Man's Land between the SS, LF, and CF, with Ichiro running especially hard after the ball. The pop looked awkward, it was handled awkwardly by Segura and Gordon, and it landed awkwardly.
Actually it wasn't really No Man's Land, because StatCast gave it a 93% catch probability for Gordon. So, that's one he's got to make up. First game in CF in front of 47,000 and either Segura couldn't hear Gordon call him off, or he simply didn't.
Gordon had a hit, a walk, and a base stolen that Segura fouled off. Ten degrees off subject: would you believe the M's out-hit the Indians on the night? 6-5.
KING FELIX IN A WORD
Was the same pitcher as last year. Exactly. Do not doubt me on this. Exactly.
Well, there was one difference and it was pleasant. His changeup was -5 MPH to his fastball rather than -3. I thought he was throwing his slider all night but no, it was his changeup, separated more neatly from his sinker.
Which, last year his xFIP was 4.03, that being #51 in the AL and NL, right in a cluster with Leake and Bumgarner and Clevenger and Arrieta. There are worse things than being the 25th-best pitcher in the American League ... such as being Christian Bergman, and such as being the M's 40th-best pitcher. Dr. D will take 190 innings rather than 87 of that, and laugh all the way to Felix' $27M bank. Because ...
THE PENNANT RACE IN A WORD
It is James Paxton that needs to rain lightning, and for 27-30 starts. He does that, the M's have a chance. To beat even Houston. One sports book has the M's with a 10% chance to beat the Astros (!!) and win the AL West. Even Baseball Prospectus has us a clear 2nd in the division, with a 7% shot at the division over Houston and a 28% chance to be in the playoffs.
Hey, Paxton wins the Cy, this offense is big time. And Jerry Dipoto has done very nicely for himself in the 3-4 starters. The SP's could line up 110-110-110 behind Paxton and the offense could lead the AL.
It could. Just like Mitch Haniger could rake three pro hits against Corey Kluber and just like Mitch Haniger could post 4-5 WAR.
A 102-WIN TEAM ON A GREAT NIGHT
There was a play somewhere in the game ... Haniger had doubled again, that is hit safely again, and then Mike Marjama ripped a clean single up the middle to up it to 3-0 and the M's never looked back...
Except a blur named Francisco Lindor warped in out of lightspeed, sno-coned the single, whirled, and impossibly fired Marjama out at first. No insurance run for you, kiddies.
The Indians have SUCH a great team. And they played SO great on Opening Night. They just didn't have enough to beat the Seattle Mariners.
My favorite moment of the game: Diaz threw a back-foot slider to Lonnie Chisenhall and it just grazed the uniform. The Indians were desperately in the dugout, on the phone, calling upstairs to see if they should challenge.
They did challenge, and did win, but in that TV image you could see an entire Cleveland organization bringing its every last artillery stick to bear against the presumptuous, upstart Seattle Mariners, and you could see the panic the tension in that dugout as they ranged the fire.
I loved it, man.
The Indians played SO great. Just not quite great enough, huh? Better luck against Zeus, babes.
Until the last two hitters of the fifth and both batters of the sixth, Felix threw the same "stuff" as 2017 Felix, but with much more elan and the quality command of 2014 Felix. Do not doubt THAT. Surprised you didn't spend time marvelling at the ultra-Felix pitch sequences throughout especially the first four innings.
His change (-0.94) and sinker (+3.65) had less rise than any single game since Felix' first start of 2015! Less than half the batters saw a first-pitch fastball, and that curve was used early & often. For most of the night, the swings against Hernandez looked tentative and defensive, and the contact was entirely harmless, with the couple line drives being soft contact. Fangraphs confirms the eye check that there was hardly any hard contact (last season, I remember seeing one squared up line drive seemingly every other inning).
That was certainly a pleasant development. The gun had he and Kluber throwing just as hard, but Felix didn’t make the killer mistake. Kluber was certainly more efficient following that Cruz bomb. But, how wonderful to have Felix outdueling Kluber in the opener. And watching Haniger treat Cory like his personal whacking toy...nice!
We have, I hope, a team like the Boys of Summer, veterans determined to put it all together and end this drought nonsense.
Dee Gordon: That pop-up that Segura flailed at...that's teaching tape for Gordon. He's got to COMMAND the field on those plays. That was *his* call to make and we all watched him wilt under the pressure. I think we all expected plays like that to happen until he gets his OF sea-legs under him. I'm still fairly confident that it'll come. It's not like his personality is that of a wallflower. Once he claims CF as *HIS*, we'll see him make those plays.
I *loved* seeing Ichiro. Goose bumps, genuine wet eyes, the works. Also; he looked completely done. With my opening day fee-fees out of the way, let's see Heredia get some consistent ABs. We got games to win.
Haniger looked like 5 WAR standing still. Seager...didn't. Is it time to switch them in the batting order?
I tense up when I watch Cano field a ball now-a-days. I'm not sure what it is, I just seem to feel that every play he's involved with is striding along a knife's edge that'll, one day soon, end in a blown...I ain't gonna jinx it. He looks fragile.
Nellie's homerun was on a cool evening, heavy humidity, marine-layer, the works, and was to the deepest part of the ballpark. Insert 4-panel Incredibles meme here."I fear no man...but that THING...It scares me."
I did not enjoy Healy's at bats. His third one was good but I did not enjoy them. He's a mouth-breather and Vogelbach should be playing. Sorry, Ryon. Miffed me all night.
Servais continues to be awful at bullpen management. This is a confirmed flaw in his managerial style. Been there since day 1, now that we look back on it.
That Lindor play was insane. Good heavens, what a short stop. Lindor gets up and he's fired up. The team is rallying around him. His emotion is lighting a spark. He comes up to bat at the top of the inning looking to shoulder the load for his team. Marjama and Felix sense his desperation and play off of it, nibbling and trying to get him to chase. Good to see.
Also; Lindor is such a great player. Look at this post-game interview.
Genuine emotion that they let Kluber down. You can see his eyes get wet when he talks about it. When was the last time you saw a Mariner take any of 1-0 Felix losses to heart in front of a camera, genuinely, tearfully blaming themselves? Great defense, good offense, and emotional leadership? What a player to have.
Nicasio was underwhelming. SABRMatt called it, here. He got swinging strikes, sure, but it sure didn't look dominant, like a reliver of his stature is supposed to. I'm concerned that our bullpen is not strong enough to overcome Servais' misuse. Even if used well, it'd still be a concern. I'm concerned.
Hurray! 162 win season on track.
”El Espirador” - the vacuum cleaner...but with a bat. That was the nickname the late PI Mariner beat reporter J. Michael Kenyon gave the, uh, legendary Mariner shortstop, and boy did Lindor own the left side of infield last night. I’m not sure he’s the second coming of Omar Vasquel, but certainly the Indians fan in front of me wearing the Lindor jersey isn’t looking back. And brother, do I hope we can finally field a team that won’t have me looking back, because when you find yourself looking back at the ghosts of Mario Friggn’ Mendoza, something’s gotta change.
In all my days at Safeco Field. I’ve never seen Ichiro have such a bad game in a Mariner uniform. He always delighted me with surprise, win or lose. Last night he looked overmatched. BUT! It was great seeing him in a Mariner uniform again and one game don’t mean nuthin’.
Cosign on Sugar. with the nitpicking by the umps giving the Indian fans seating in front of me life, I enjoyed reminding the hometown fans around me loudly so the Cleveland faithful could hear that these guys can’t hit Eddie and they know it. Enjoy your false hopes, Indian fans. This is third season Sugar. He ain’t gonna crack, even if you put Rajah Davis on the basepaths. This isn’t Fernando Rodney (Ok, I was a little nervous about the slider in the dirt and a catcher I’d never heard of, but wasn’t gonna show it).
Great, great night. As I told the two young very knowledgeable ladies to my right, who went to Spring training together and answered all the questions I had about this year’s team: “Nice to meet you. See you in the World Series!”
Maybe it's just faulty memory, but when he left the game, this is the first time I can remember Felix's body language and expression saying, 'Yeah...OK. I'm done. I'm good with this.'
Typically it always seems to me he's either mad because he doesn't think he should come out...or fiercely proud of what he's accomplished--the looks are kind of similar.
But if his demeanor last night indicates that he's altered his expectations of who he now is and what he can do...I think that would be good sign.
It looked like disappointment, rather than resignation. He wasn't angry about being lifted or proud of his game, but he looked a little sad that he couldn't get the ball where he wanted to get it so early in the game. He may struggle a bit with realizing he isn't a 230 IP horse anymore.
Where we can begin an observation and say something like, "it looked to me ..."; whereas on certain sites the mere use of the word "look" gets your head chopped. SSI is truly a breath of fresh air, where metrics matter as much as the eye-test. It just makes sense to me.
As for my two cents, Felix appeared proud to me; proud that he had gone 5+, and proud that he put up 0 RA. I think he would have gone longer if given the chance and resigned to the reality that it was not his choice to make. There appeared a sense of acceptance in his demeanor to me, if somewhat muted.