Felix Extraordinary, Yu Darvish Ordinary, Beltre Kinda Weird in Mariners Victory Over Rangers

This evening I made some makeshift Mexican food for myself and my girlfriend. I diced an onion and jalapeno and sautéed them, then put some ground angus in the pan and some garlic and other seasonings. I had jalapeno juice all over my hand, and was very careful to wash my hands thoroughly before I did something stupid like touching my eyeball. In fact, this morning I actually poked myself in the eye, and was particularly worried about that eye.

Despite my efforts I managed to get jalapeno in the eye. I don’t know how it happened, but it did, and I was unhappy the whole time that my eye was burning. Then I got it in my nose and I have to say that the burning in Stephen Strasburg’s crotch has nothing on the burning in the back of my nose. Find that sentence on any other website.

The parallel I’m drawing in this elaborate story about burning body parts is that today I made a mistake I’ve made before. I even took precautions to avoid making the same mistake, and still made the same mistake. I’m an idiot sometimes.

On April 9 when Yu Darvish made his first ever big league start I pointed out that in Japan he’d run a 7.67 K/BB in 2011. After leaving an NBP (Japan’s professional league) that is widely known for an expansive strike zone it seemed pretty unlikely he’d be able to duplicate those numbers.

But Darvish walked four Mariners hitters in less than five innings, and I pointed out that he’d need 26 straight strikeouts without a walk to return to this Japanese metrics stateside. He hasn’t done that, and he didn’t do that today. Not even close.

I doubt even the most severe doubter of Darvish’s ability to assimilate to the MLB would have expected he’d be averaging more than five walks per nine innings (5.14 BB/9) or have a K/BB under two (1.97 K/BB). Though Darvish has struck out more than a batter per inning so far this year, and posted pretty good results, his peripherals have been generally pedestrian. His walks are the main reason why his xFIP was about a run higher than his ERA coming into today, and also the biggest contributing factor to his failures today.

Darvish walked six Mariners today. It’s not like the Mariners were beating the ball around the yard, only Ichiro had an extra base hit off of Darvish and that was triple that hit the wall in foul territory about half way down the right field line and died. It was a field triple, not a triple that he destroyed to the center field fence.

Rather, the Mariners were opportunistic today, and Darvish gave them many opportunities.

If I was a Rangers pitcher I’d have mixed feelings about Adrian Beltre. I mean, the guy is one of the best defensive third basemen in the history of the game, and when he’s not hitting in Safeco Field full time he’s a pretty damn good hitter. But for the love of Jesus Montero does he love Felix Hernandez. In the middle of an eighth inning that saw the Mariners beating the Rangers by five runs Felix and Beltre were poking at eachother from the home dugout to third base, and on the broadcast they’d show them between pitches, and it didn’t stop

It reminded me of Little League when you’d see two best friends that weren’t on the same team, and one of them was on second base and the other one wanted to just keep tagging them with the ball. It’s weird. If this was a high school team then Beltre would be running laps and Mike Adams would be screaming “Shut the FUCK UP!” at Beltre mid-inning.

But Felix dealt. Damn did he deal. Felix uses his pitches efficiently, and he uses them all. He changes locations, he throws on both sides of the plate, he throws high, he throws low, he throws higher, he throws lower. Watching Felix right now—especially with his reduced velocity—is totally reminiscent of watching Roy Halladay as he entered his 30s. There was a lot of doubt as to what direction Felix would go as he matured physically, whether he’d actually learn to pitch, or if he’d become another Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia. Needless to say he has done the former.

Felix missed 14 bats today, and got 12 groundball outs. With his seven strikeouts 19 of his 24 outs were good process outs.

In the third inning—for the second time this season—Michael Saunders went a bit rogue on a bunt opportunity. The first one was a squeeze play that nobody—not even Munenori Kawasaki who was on third base—knew was coming. This time Saunders made a more strategic mistake, attempting to sacrifice to the first base side with Darvish falling off the mound that direction and Mitch Moreland crashing. He attempted to get the ball through the space between Moreland and Darvish to get a base hit. If it weren’t for the fact that there were men on first and second he may have done it, as it would have taken some fancy footwork for Moreland to throw the ball to first. But instead he had a natural play to third as he followed his momentum across the diamond. There have been a handful of times this season when I’ve felt like Eric Wedge would have benched Saunders if he had a true alternative. With Matt Harrison—a left-handed pitcher—on the mound tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Casper Wells or Chone Figgins in center field tomorrow.

And after the shot that John Jaso took off the right shoulder in the top of the ninth, look to see Jesus Montero behind the plate, also.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t mind Wells getting some more playing time, they don’t know his bottom line yet.  Love Saunders but his bunt thing needs to be reset by Wedgie.  Also love how Ichiro is showing his homie who The Man is.  If Darvish turns into Matsuzaka 2.0 and Hamilton signs elsewhere then the Texicans are going to become a little more ordinary.  Maybe between Pujols and Wells the LAAofA could join them.  Hey, a guy can dream.  It’s sad that only 12,000+ came out to see that pitchers duel.  Happy jalapeno handling.

    • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

      I think that Wells is a good candidate for LF of the near future. Then you can get a hog in RF and shade Saunders that way next year.