Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mariners Lose, Eliminate Angels Anyway

I wasn't sure I'd write something about this game or not.  I'm to the point in the season where individual wins and losses don't bother me, and I was actually at that point a while ago.  This game though, it hurts a little.  Not because Seattle lost but because of the WAY they lost.  Felix Hernandez has had his issues against the Angels during his career and tonight was no exception.

Before we get to all of that though, I just want to point out the fact that the Mariners lost and the Angels were still eliminated because of the Athletics winning in some other part of the country.  It has to be a bittersweet moment for the players in Angels jerseys to have just beaten King Felix by a fairly wide margin and find out that same night you're playing for nothing the rest of the season.  Except for thousands of dollars, but that's beside the point.

For a game with two sides, the Mariners side and the Angels side, it was filled with nothing but melancholy on both sides of it.  And on that happy note, let's take a quick look at stuff.  It's going to be a short look at tonight since I'm catching some sort of bug, this was game 160 in a season of 162, it was an absolutely bland game.  I do this because I like it, not because I have a gun to my head.  I swear, I really don't.
In the first inning, Felix found himself in trouble and just couldn't get out of it.  He made his pitches but a majority of them were not where they needed to be.  The ball stuck its tongue out halfway to the plate and stayed where the hitters could hit it.  Maybe the ball had a masochistic streak tonight.....  After the first inning, he never really got it going.  He ended his night going 5 1/3 innings while allowing 7 runs, all earned, to go with 12 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.  The strikeouts are nice, but you can't survive any start by having a WHIP just shy of 3.  That's a lot of baserunners to be allowing in each inning.  It was also one of the smallest crowds of the year and even the King's Court didn't feel like it had that fire it's had since its inception.  For Felix, this was a night to forget, so let's do him the favor of forgetting this game ever happened.  Preferably after reading the rest of this thing, but that's entirely up to you.  Free will man.  It's a beautiful thing.

In the bottom of the first, Casper Wells took a C.J. Wilson pitch deep to left field and over the wall for a solo home run.  It was a mistake to a big league hitter and Wells did what big leaguers are supposed to do.  He swung at it and hit it several hundred feet.  The pitch was middle in so its not like it was a fantastic piece of hitting by Wells, but you take what you can get at this point.  He hasn't exactly endeared himself to me and probably not many of you fans out there either.  He did throw out Mike Trout in the top of the second trying to stretch a single into a double, which you can see here.  It was reminiscent of Ichiro Suzuki throwing runners out from right field with lasers to the bag.  This particular play was helped by Trout hesitating for a split second rounding first, but that's all it takes.  It goes in the books the same no matter how it came to pass.

Because a left hander was on the mound, Miguel Olivo got the start and actually had a couple of hits.  Having Olivo in the lineup against lefties has, and always will, annoy me.  Hopefully "always will" ends up being two more games though.  There just wasn't much else going on in this game.  Olivo, Wells and Justin Smoak each had a double with Wells adding a home run on top of that.  The Mariners went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position but were playing catch up the entire game and couldn't quite get there.

Another positive to come out of this game was, believe it or not, Hector Noesi.  He tossed 3 innings of effective relief, giving up 1 run (1 earned) on 3 hits, 1 walks and 2 strikeouts.  Considering where he had been in the starting role this season, it's an encouraging sign that just maybe he can figure it out.  I'm not holding my breath on that one and will wait until spring training to render an opinion, but for now he's at least effective out of the pen, for what that's worth.

One thing that could be fed into the grinder and analyzed is the failure of Felix to back up a throw from the outfield.  That's where the analysis will stop, because this was game number 160 of the season and he's been in the league long enough to know he should be back there.  It was a lapse in judgement and that's pretty much about it.  I can't get inside his head and tell you what he was thinking, so I'm just going to leave it at that.  My guess would be he thought something to the effect of "Oops!", but probably with a little more color.

Told you this would be a short one.  Before we get to the part where I tell you who and when they play tomorrow, I want to point something out that has nothing to do with the game.  If you're an Angels fan, I would suggest you stop reading.  If you continue, don't say I didn't warn you.

This past offseason, the Angels committed $240 million to Albert Pujols and $77.5 million to C.J. Wilson.  They dealt for Zack Greinke at the deadline and Mike Trout is having a rookie season the likes of which nobody has ever seen in the history of baseball.  This season alone, their payroll is $151.7 million according to Baseball Reference.  2 of the AL teams to make it into the postseason this year are the Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles.  Just this year, the A's are spending $56.7 million.  The Orioles are on the hook for $76.5 million.  Combined, they've spent $133.2 million in guaranteed contracts and are going to the playoffs.  Baseball is a funny game.

Tomorrow is Dan Haren going up against Hisashi Iwakuma at 7:10pm Pacific.  It's the second to last game of the season with no playoff implications.  How exciting!

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