If you missed Geoff Baker Live! pre-game (video above), I played a clip of Eric Wedge saying how folks in Seattle should remain a bit more even-keeled about the team’s daily wins and losses. I topped that clip off with my own commentary about how GM Jack Zduriencik needs to get a trade done to help the offense. In case you didn’t get my reasoning, I get much more in-depth in this clip.
We saw Felix Hernandez get a single tonight, clearly fired up after seeing this clip from the show. Somebody asked me about why the M’s have gone away from using consistent lineups when Adam Kennedy had spoken a while back about how there was value to players knowing when they’d be starting in games.
On to the post…
Felix Hernandez was pretty wild early on tonight and his change-up was way up in the zone. Kept hitting batters, threw that wild-pitch in the dirt that cost him a run. But Hernandez, as he has so often before, simply overcame the adversity and went on to strike out 10 batters while two-hitting the Florida Marlins for eight innings.
“My hand was hanging back in behind,” Hernandez said of his mechanics early on. “All I had to do was make an adjustment and follow through.”
The change-up was moving like Hernandez has rarely seen it do before. M’s catcher Miguel Olivo said it’s never moved liked that when he’s been behind the plate.
“In the third inning, he just got everything together,” Olivo said. “In the second inning, he hit a couple of guys. After the third inning, he was just a different guy. Everything started working: the changeup, the slider, the curveball and the sinker. He was unbelievable.”
The wild-pitch in the fourth did come on a change-up as well. Hernandez also hit a third batter late. But he yielded very little apart from that.
Olivo was moved by the chanting of fans who serenaded him with “O-liv-vo! Oh! Oh!” throughout an eight-pitch at-bat in the ninth. Yes, he did hear it.
“They got me on,” he said of the fans. “I heard that and I said ‘Man, I can’t strike out right here, they’re really excited for me. I’m glad I hit that ball and they cheered even more.”
If you want the tune of the chants, watch the clip below of the marching guards from the Wizard of Oz movie. Olivo has heard the chant before, since former teammate Magglio Ordonez used it as his intro music prior to at-bats when the pair were with the Chicago White Sox.
“It means a lot to me,” Olivo said. “This the first time people have done that for me in my career.”
That Brendan Ryan rundown play in the seventh, which helped set up a three-run comeback inning for Seattle, also meant a lot.
“That was really the difference in the ballgame right there,” M’s manager Eric Wedge said. “Granted, we had to come through after that and we did. Guys got some big hits there. But we put ourselves in a position there to make something happen.”
All that running back and forth bought time for Adam Kennedy to go from first to third and for batter Justin Smoak to take second.
Ryan tried to downplay his running feats, quipping that “it lasted about a minute and a half or so because that’s how long it takes for Smoakie (Justin Smoak) to get to second.”
He added that: “I tried the Earthquake drill there at the end. Stop, drop and roll. But it didn’t work.”
Hey, it takes all kinds of help when an offense is scuffling. Even from the King’s Court section of fans, which clearly motivated Olivo.
Here’s what Hernandez had to say about “his” fans in the King’s Court section.
“The King’s Court is awesome right now,” Hernandez said. “These days they’re doing a pretty good job.”
So is Hernandez. And his team needed it.