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Sunday, April 20, 2008

RISP2 Voodoo: Mariners 4, Angels 2

If you went on this game alone, Seattle starter Miguel Batista would have a 9.35 K/9, but that's a bit high, even for him; he's got a 5.60 career ERA against the Halos, so we can chalk this one up to maybe overanxiousness and a, uh, flexible strike zone at home plate by umpire Bob Davidson. The more apparent culprits, though, was a collective 2-for-13 run with men on base. The Angels stranded better than a man an inning; at least they were getting baserunners, then, but the variability of a RISP-hitting-dependent offense came immediately into play. Minus Howie Kendrick, and saddled with the horribly slumping Gary Matthews, Jr. in the two hole (himself responsible for one of those missed opportunities), the Angels hit a lot of harmless singles but had nothing to show for it. (It occurred to me, with no easy way that I know of to check this, that a lot of the Angels' early-season offensive success is essentially a fluke, and dependent on the long ball.)

Richie Sexson, on the other hand, got yet another improbable homer, a two-run jack in the second, and the M's picked up two more off the hapless Dustin Moseley in the fifth, long past his sell-by date. Moseley gave up four consecutive hits that frame before making an out, including an RBI triple to Ichiro that perfectly split the outfielders in right. Moseley managed to walk the bases loaded with Sexson at the plate in his third appearance of the game (already?). That brought in Darren O'Day, who saved the day by getting Brad Wilkerson to ground out to second to end the frame.

As it turned out, it was O'Day's second most highly leveraged appearance of the season, second only to his successful effort in a losing cause on April 16 against the Royals, in which he held the entire lineup scoreless (and in fact set down the first five in order). O'Day still isn't seeing any usage in truly game-critical situations, but Mike's building trust with him in increasingly difficult situations; so far, he's earned it, though his low 5.23 K/9 is bit of a concern. Nevertheless, a 2.25 groundball/flyball ratio gives him a lot of wiggle room in that regard.

Chris Bootcheck, activated prior to today's game, made his first appearance of the season, and was sharp in one inning of work, retiring the side while giving up a double to Brad Wilkerson. (The Angels sent down Alex Serrano to make room.) Boots hit 92 on the gun, a good sign for his future effectiveness if he can keep that up, but I think of him and Moseley as being more or less interchangeable back-of-the-bullpen guys, with Moseley having a little more flexibility in terms of what he offers on long relief.

Jason Bulger had a fine outing, too, setting down the side in the ninth, and providing a nice prelude to the Angels' exciting bottom half. Mark Lowe walked two, got a lucky call on Erick Aybar's 1-3 groundout that could have and should have been called "safe" according to the announcers, who declared it a tie; and then he walked Figgy to load the bases. Matthews then did something he's had trouble with this year, namely, hitting with runners in scoring position (.217 prior to this game). Cashing in both Rivera and Izturis, that got Brandon Morrow to face Vlad Guerrero — who walked, to re-load the bases. The M's looked awfully nervous for a team with a two-run lead and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but they brought in Ryan Rowland-Smith, whom Anderson had never hit in four previous tries, to the mound, and that succeeded in finishing the victory for the M's. (Why didn't Mike give GA the hook in favor of the appreciably hotter Torii Hunter? I have no idea.)

At least the ninth was fun.

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"Why didn't Mike give GA the hook in favor of the appreciably hotter Torii Hunter?"
I asked myself the same question (although I probably would have pulled GMJ), but I guess the mainstream answer is that Anderson "earned it".

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