Today the Mariners played a game that very few people watched, because most of them were at work, and Bring Back Our Sonics hosted an event at Cheney Stadium that I attended, that was totally great. The incomparable Sonics Guy, also known as Kris Brannon: NASORB Writer, was there. Slick Watts was there. Donald Watts was there. Isaiah Thomas of Husky Basketball and Sacramento King fame was there. M-Duece was there. It was a festive place.
I ended up having to leave early because myself and whatever pollen is floating around in the air aren’t getting along, and I could barely keep my eyes open. It’s weird that this happened today, I’ve had allergies for some time, but baseball has always been my sanctuary. I played growing up. I have played as an adult. I’ve been fine, but whatever, nobody gives a shit about my allergies, including my girlfriend (just kidding).
The Mariners turned in another really good pitching performance today, following two straight double-digit strikeout games from Erasmo Ramirez and Jason Vargas respectively. Their good performance took a different form today, not unlike the last prominent start that Kevin Millwood made, when the team combined for a no-hitter. He left with another groin injury, and I’d imagine he’ll see some time on the disabled list this time around so that the injury doesn’t continue to occur.
Hisashi Iwakuma replaced Millwood with two outs in the third inning, and pitched pretty well for 3.2 innings. He struck out three and induced five grounders.
Lucas Luetge also pitched well as he’s been doing all year in his one inning of work. The real story though is Brandon League, who pitched five perfect outs. All five came on fly balls. He missed one bat. On results based analysis League looked great today, but he couldn’t have gotten there in a much uglier way.
The Mariners scored one run today, but they had nine base runners. Three of those were John Jaso, who I promised everyone at the beginning of the season was a good baseball player. Right now he’s running a 133 wRC+ with a .292 BABIP. That’s fully sustainable, and his low strikeout rate and high walk rate combined with his power have him hitting better than anyone one the Mariners that isn’t a pitcher, or the very small sample of Franklin Gutierrez. At this point it seems unlikely that Justin Smoak is going to figure things out at the major league level, and considering how well Jaso has hit, it seems silly to not give him some time at first base. The offense is better when Jaso is in the lineup, period. He doesn’t need to be in some goofy lineup spot as Eric Wedge is prone to put him in, but any lineup spot is more productive than him being on the bench.
In the fifth inning of yesterday’s game Jason Vargas induced six swinging strikes. In his prior two starts he combined to miss only seven bats. Jason Vargas missed 17 bats last night, and struck out 10. Erasmo Ramirez missed 17 bats the night before, and struck out 10. The symmetry doesn’t end there, though, as the truth is that both pitchers pitched way over their heads both games. It’s great for the Mariners, and with James Paxton hurt, and especially with Kevin Millwood potentially going on the DL, the Mariners are well served to get a look at Ramirez before going out and signing a fifth starter going into next season, and Jason Vargas’ trade value can only go up from his issues in Arizona.
With C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both going on the disabled list in New York I felt like that may be a good location for Vargas. Kramer reminded me though, quite astutely I may add, that the Yankees may have blocked all Mariners phone calls at this point after the way the Michael Pineda trade has worked out. Whatever.
I’ll be live-blogging Hultzen-Moyer tomorrow, and likely recapping the Mariners game also as Mikey is going to be at Cheney Stadium the balance of the week representing MLB Dirt and eyeballing Toronto’s amazing AAA squad.