Another Felix start, another Felix heartbreaker. While there was technically a start in between today’s start and Felix’s last heart-wrenchingly outstanding performance that turned into a Mariners loss, that’s barely relevant right now.
And this team has been fun to watch of late. If you’re a true fan, which if you’re reading a third-rate Mariners blog then you must be, there has been a reason to watch every game so far this year. The Mariners are mediocre, but this year is different. We’re getting to watch guys develop. We’re watching Ackley struggle, Smoak struggle, Montero begin to flourish, and Kyle Seager begin to bloom. Sure, I’m pissed off that Miguel Olivo is still the team’s regular starting catcher (though his groin injury today may mean that John Jaso finally gets regular time), but this team is intriguing. I’ve loved this season so far. I expected the Mariners to struggle at times. They are young. Deal with it, they’ll be young for a while. They’ll be good after that.
But Felix really pitched well tonight, and the Mariners still lost 3-2. He hit 94 mph with his fastball, and had what I believe to be the best breaking ball he’s had all season. He was generating swinging strikes and strikes looking alike with it, and I don’t remember seeing anyone put even close to a decent swing on it. I believe the breaking ball I’m referring to was his curveball. But with the view at Tropicana Field is from a different angle, so I don’t want to make an ass out of myself by calling one pitch another, but the velocity and movement read as a curveball for me. Regardless, it read as unhittable for Rays hitters. Felix missed 11 bats, but more importantly he induced 10 groundball outs compared to four in the air.
And how about that Miguel Olivo injury. Evan Longoria, pretty much unarguably the Rays best player went down on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play with a knee injury. The Rays showed the Mariners by equally-unintentionally injuring perhaps the Mariners worst player. Olivo has been hitting the shit out of the ball lately. Credit where it is due. But a whole career sample seems more likely to stabilize than a 30 game stretch. Just saying.
Jesus Montero went opposite field in the 10th inning, hitting a homerun over the right-center field fence. That dude is strong.
These are the kinds of nights Brandon League is prone to. What a fucking annoying matter-of-fact statement that is. Brandon League is a closer, sometimes all closers blow saves. Brandon League doesn’t strike a lot of hitters out though, and he walks a fair amount. It doesn’t make sense because Brandon League has a fastball with a ton of movement and velocity, and two good off speed offerings, but that’s just the way it is. Brandon League lives and dies on groundballs, and he gets a lot of them. One of the dangers of allowing opposing hitters to put balls in play is that sometimes balls in play become baserunners, and sometimes baserunners become runs. Brandon League isn’t an elite closer, but let’s hope he pitches well enough the rest of the season to convince some unknowing GM (Brian Sabean) to hand over a couple of prospects to the Mariners in exchange for League sometime in July.
Olivo’s injury is going to become a storyline for a couple of reasons. One, Olivo is terrible and this presumably opens the door for someone like, maybe, John Jaso to take his spot. Or maybe Eric Wedge falls in love with Munenori Kawasaki’s “good eyes” and DH’s him for a couple of weeks while he starts Montero behind the plate on an everyday basis.
I thought that at some point we’d have a debate on our hands about who should go down when Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez come up. With Guti hurt still, and Olivo out, controversy and a potential Chone Figgins release may be averted for now. We’ll talk about that more some other time. For now, revel in the seemingly bottomless pit of frustration that is a no decision for The King.