What a God damned wretched experience last night was. I saw my first-ever NCAA bracket contest championships wither and die along with Gonzaga’s dreams and the concept of good refereeing. And, as an appetizer, I got to watch the Mariners stink up the joint for almost three hours.
For starters, what the hell happened to the Mariners opening up every season against the Oakland A’s? While it rarely made for exciting baseball, you could at least count on a win for the good guys! The last two years, we’ve opened up with games against Texas and Houston and have seen our Opening Day winning percentage suffer accordingly.
It seems particularly cruel to have the Mariners start in Houston of all places, where we traditionally play like warm, pureed garbage. It’s like Major League Baseball wanted to deflate all of our hopes like so many New England Patriots footballs, before the season even truly started.
Dallas Keuchel looked like his usual, dominant self. I’m always amazed when it’s pointed out that the Mariners actually HAVE had some success against that guy; I seem to only remember the times he’s absolutely murdered us. The Mariners only had one opportunity to get to him, and a poor choice in our lineup’s construction saw to it we wouldn’t capitalize.
In the 4th inning, Cano, Cruz, and Valencia loaded the bases with two outs, on a single and a couple of walks. I was okay with the lineup 1-6, with Valencia batting behind Seager in that 6-hole. Where I have the problem is batting Leonys Martin 7th, ahead of Mike Zunino. I understand the allure of having Zunino’s power so low in the lineup, combined with the desire to limit the pressure on him at the plate by having him near the bottom, but Leonys Martin is a hot fucking mess at the plate. On top of that, he’s a lefty trying to do SOMETHING against the likes of Dallas Fucking Keuchel. There’s something to be said for going lefty-righty-lefty in your lineup, but not with the 7-8-9 hitters!
We had the bases loaded with 2 outs and a left-handed hitter coming to the plate. Martin, as is his wont, swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second base, because of course he did. Now, imagine that same scenario with Zunino up there and the bases loaded! Granted, he also went hitless yesterday, so maybe he too would’ve grounded out to end the inning. But, I have a shitload more confidence in Zunino against Keuchel than I do Martin against Keuchel. You should be stacking the lineup with as many right handed hitters in a row against a guy like Keuchel! STOP FUCKING AROUND, SERVAIS! This year is too fucking important for your shenanigans!
If it looks like I’m in Panicky Mariners Fan midseason form, that’s because this game had the feel of every midseason Mariners game you’ve ever seen in the last 10+ years. Three hits, four walks, seven runners left on base, hitless with runners in scoring position; Felix struggling against the Astros, Felix leaving the game with a groin injury while trying to cover first base on a grounder to Valencia …
Speaking of which, I’m at the point now where I’m ready to let those go as infield hits, rather than have the King run to first base, because it seems like damn near EVERY FUCKING TIME he walks away from that play limping!
The only other scoring opportunity the Mariners saw was in the 8th inning, down 3-0, against reliever Luke Gregerson. After two quick outs, Dyson and Segura got on base and advanced on a wild pitch. With runners on 2nd & 3rd, Cano stepped up to the plate and worked the count in his favor. He was one pitch away from working a walk to load the bases for Cruz, but he saw a pitch he liked and he roped it on a line to right field, right at the right fielder for the final out of the inning. The Astros would bring in a fireballer to close it out and make almost all of the 9th inning batters look like idiots, and that was the end of it.
I’ll hop right into the random observations.
I thought Felix looked okay. The first homer he gave up, to the first batter of the game, was a mistake plain and simple, right in the middle of the plate. The other homer was hit on a good pitch, up and in, off the plate. He didn’t walk anyone, and he struck out six guys, including Altuve twice! Obviously, the groin issue is a concern, and will probably be something he has to deal with all season – until it finally forces him onto the DL – as I’m sure he’ll re-aggravate it every time he has to cover first base, so that sucks. Short of that, I thought he had a couple more good innings left in him easy.
I think the Mariners, and the broadcast team in particular, are putting WAY too much pressure on Mitch Haniger. Yeah, his Spring Training was fantastic, but he’s still someone who has yet to have any Major League success whatsoever. Why don’t we let him get some at bats under his belt before we start calling him The Prize Of Our Offseason Acquisitions, or whatever the hell it was Dave Sims was trying to say last night. Jesus Christ, if he isn’t the guy who mows down Spring Training only to turn back into a pumpkin come the regular season, I don’t know who is!
Good on Jean Segura for getting a couple hits! He’s your real prize of the offseason, you mope!
It would be ideal for Jarrod Dyson to start getting hits off of lefties, so we can just leave him at the top of our lineup, push Martin down to 9th, and Haniger down to 7th or 8th, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.
Nick Vincent struggled. Get ready to say that a lot this year.
James Pazos looked good! I hope he’s able to stick around for a while; I like what I saw.
I don’t know if I’m as excited about Casey Fien. He looked all right, I guess, but boy is he coming off of a down year. Also, not sure if I saw much of an out-pitch out of him, but then again, with how aggressive the Astros are, he only had to throw 8 pitches.
Three more games in this Houston series. I feel like best case scenario is a 2-2 split. I also feel like we might come out on the short end of that stick.