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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 4, 2007 at 8:51 PM

Welcome back to Earth

Well, that was a fun 48 hours, wasn’t it? As we mentioned this morning, the Mariners are not going to go 162-0, even if they do score 10 runs over the final two innings tonight. It’s 9-0 for the A’s right now, and Miguel Batista looked like I remembered him when he last started for the Blue Jays in 2004. Welcome back to the American League, Miggy! Isn’t this fun?
Like Jarrod Washburn on Tuesday, Batista threw far too many pitches early on. Unlike Washburn, he couldn’t limit the damage when forced to put his pitches over the plate. How many 2-0 counts did we see the first three innings? Whatever. Throwing 94 pitches before the fifth inning is even over is the type of stuff one expects from a fifth starter trying to hang on to a major league job. Not from a soon-to-be 36-year-old locked into a $25 million contract through 2009. Batista’s pitches looked like dogs — very fast dogs — that had just broken free of their leashes. He had the velocity. He had the movement. What he didn’t have was any clue of where his pitches were going to end up. I’ve seen this act once before and didn’t like it. Batista is better than this. But he has to show it. He’s the No. 3 guy and is being counted on for innings. He didn’t give that tonight. If he doesn’t get his control issues sorted out, he won’t be getting close to the 200 innings the team expects.
“Angels fan”(???) Who wrote that, anyway? That you, “rb”? I’m a baseball fan. I like good baseball teams. The Angels are 3-0. They are the target the Mariners have to be shooting for in this division. They have given up three runs or less in each of their games and have scored four or more.
Why do I like Kelvim Escobar so much? Here’s a hint. It’s not his career won-lost record. More like his peripherals. Try an ERA of less than 4.00 each of his past three seasons. How about his 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio? Or the 208 innings he threw in 2004 when he was the best pitcher the Angels had? By the way, Bartolo Colon (a.k.a. “lazy 300-pound hamstring pull” to some of you) won the Cy Young Award in 2005. The difference between him that year and Escobar in 2004? About two runs per game more offense for Colon. Anyway, I just like Escobar as a pitcher. Sue me.
As we mentioned, the sign of a contending team is the ability to sweep when you win the first two games. The Mariners haven’t done that. Batista put them in an early hole and they’ve pretty much rolled over and died against Rich Harden. Plenty of other teams will be doing that against Harden this year I suspect. Jose Vidro? Give him another week or two to get used to being a DH up here in the colder weather, then get back to me. Right now, he looks awful. But it’s very early and he’s adapting to a new role.
The Mariners? They took two of three. Right now, that’s good for second place.
In fairness to you, I’ll mention that I noticed the error on the Colon Cy Young year and altered the post, but obviously, you’d already read it and filed your comment before noticing it had been changed. But seriously, your hate-on for the Angels and Escobar? Yeah, he only started seven games for them in 2005 because he got hurt and then, when he came back just in time for a pennant race that September, he became a lights-out setup man in the bullpen for K-Rod. How many starters do that at this stage of their careers? He pitched them into the playoffs. Opponents hit .169 off him in nine September relief outings totalling 19 innings. He struck out 17 guys in those 19 frames. He struck out 15 guys in 11 1/3 post-season innings in 2005. I saw those games. He fanned 10 guys in 4 1/3 ALCS innings against the White Sox, losing twice because of those flukey A.J. Pierzynski plays. I like him. What can you do?
OK, I’ll talk some Mariners. What I’ve seen from their pitchers the first three games is exactly what I expected heading into the season. A great outing by Felix Hernandez, a borderline start by Jarrod Washburn and a lousy one by Miguel Batista. The M’s look like a team with a staff ace and four No. 4 starters so far. But it’s early. I can’t say whether it’s a pattern. I can say that I like Escobar. Gotta go, my flight to Cleveland leaves in nine hours. But I appreciate the feedback, seriously. Glad you were paying attention and caught the Colon goofup.



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