The story of tonight was Yu Darvish. It wasn’t that he pitched great, it wasn’t that he pitched badly, it was that he pitched. I was more excited to see Hector Noesi, and by the end of the four-run, 40+ pitch first inning, most Rangers fans were probably excited to finally see Hector Noesi also.
The common theme between both pitchers was a general inability to throw called strikes. I’m curious to see what the final Pitch F/X looked like, and to analyze it, because I think that Noesi got screwed on a handful of ball calls that could have significantly changed the course of at bats.
Chone Figgins reached twice today, and Ichiro had three hits including two doubles. Kyle Seager ripped the shit out of a ball down the right field line for a double and had two other hits.
And the Mariners gave up four homeruns. The Mariners juggernaut offense traded three doubles for four home runs. That’s a losing proposition. But I mean, it’s Texas. During the fourth inning Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez put pitches in identical locations to Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton, and both hitters tattooed them. Lefties hit low-and-inside pitches well. Those guys should know that by now.
So Hector Noesi was pretty much as advertised. He misses some bats, and his changeup is a real equalizer against lefties. He needs to hit his spots, and not pitch against Texas and he’ll give up less home runs. He’s a young pitcher. He should get a couple more turns in the rotation before the team gives up on his as a starter this year, and for the record, my mancrush lives on.
Erasmo Ramirez is tiny. He throws harder than I expected, but as a short guy he even has about a three-quarters arm angle, which flattens the plane on which the ball crosses the plate. I don’t think that Erasmo Ramirez is an impact big-leaguer. Some people do think that. I really hope he is, because this is a team that needs impact big leaguers. I just don’t see it.
When Darvish found his command and started to use his off speed pitches more in the later innings, his past dominance began to make sense. Darvish is a good pitcher with at least three very good pitches. I still think it was a bit silly to let C.J. Wilson go to Anaheim (for the record, I’m going to keep calling them Anaheim) for about $35 million less than Darvish cost. That said, Darvish showed some of the reason why he was considered to be worth upwards of $110 million, and some of the reason why that was considered a big risk.
Yu Darvish had a 7.67 K/BB ratio in Japan last year. That’s crazy good, even for a league known for an enlarged strike zone. Darvish has a 1.25 K/BB ratio in the MLB. He’d need 26 strikeouts without a walk to return to that form stateside.
Even though the Mariners were good early this felt like a 2010 or 2011 game again. The Mariners had a single bright spot that was a candle in the sun that was the Rangers offense. The Rangers have a really good offense. The Mariners have a less good offense. I think when the smoke clears the teams will have pretty similar pitching staffs, and if everyone on the Mariners roster that could develop did develop, they still probably wouldn’t have quite the offense the Rangers have. The Rangers are better than the Mariners.
They were especially better today.