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April 28, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Michael Pineda makes another in-game adjustment and sails on from there

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It was tough not to notice how poorly Michael Pineda did early on against left-handed hitters compared to righties.
During that second inning, Pineda gave up two doubles to lefties, a long fly ball by another and walked yet another. And that was after he’d opened the game with four strikeouts on four hittters.
Turns out, it was the same mechanical problem that plagued him his last time out that was doing a lot of the damage. Pineda sometimes lets his left shoulder fly open when he pitches, causing balls — especially his change-up today — to stay up in the zone.
The change-up was what got belted on the doubles.
“It was the same as last week,” Pineda said. “I don’t know what happened, but I was leaving my left shoulder open. I was working at keeping my shoulder closed. But it was the same as before. I made an adjustment in the third inning and then I kept my pitches down.”
But he made the adjustment, which was a good sign.

Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo also had Pineda throw more fastballs against the lefties. They still hit him hard at times, sending some fly balls to deepest center. But there were no more of those line drives pulled to right field like the ones we saw in the second inning.
“Right now, he’s learning,” Olivo said. “He’s following me. He listens to Felix (Hernandez) and all those guys. He’s going to learn. And the minute he gets everything together, he’s going to be very, very dangerous. He just faced one of the top lineups and he’s not afraid to go get them.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was impressed by how Pineda adjusted so quickly and mixed his pitches up after the second. He was going inside and outside on the left-handers, keeping them off-balance as much as he could.
And yes, the M’s showed improvement on offense this series.
Now, the big test will be to see what happens in Boston. For whatever reason, the M’s have had Detroit’s number this season — scoring 41 percent of their 2011 season total against the Tigers.
The two clubs have played six times out of Seattle’s 26 games.
And the last two days, the m’s have broken open some close games by piling on the Tigers bullpen. They scored three in the eighth today and six in the ninth last night.
Yes, all the runs do count.
But we’ll see whether the pace can continue, or whether this was just a three-day reprieve.
On the positive front, a lot of the offense is being generated by guys who we’ve been telling you were due some better luck.
Olivo had seven hits this series after compiling just 10 previously.
His average has shot up from .164 with a .404 OPS to .230 with a .610 OPS. Not bad for three days of work.
Chone Figgins just went from .160 to .191 in batting average and .454 to .510 in OPS. So, not as dramatic, but it’s a start.
Justin Smoak has been a hugew offensive catalyst in the middle of the order and had another extra-base hit off a right-hander today. So, that’s key. Smoak is now batting .303 with a .988 OPS and a team-leading 15 RBI.
The guy to watch on the downward trend is Milton Bradley, who is down to a .205 average and .685 OPS. He’s currently in an 0-for-15 slump with just one hit his past 21 at-bats.
You can’t have Bradley and Jack Cust slumping at the same time for very long. Both are still key factors in the way this team was built, so you have to get at least one going or it might negate some of this brief progress we’ve seen.
But this is more like a regular offense. One that has gotten at least a home run every day. Amazing what that can do to put runs up on the board in a hurry. We saw plenty of doubles this series as well.
On to Boston. We’ll see whether the bats can keep connecting.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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