When Wedge looked at the schedule a few weeks ago, he sighed and said, "well, we need to bench Montero and start Millwood at some point, may as well be when no one is watching."
Unfortunately, I watched. I happen to live in Washington DC and if my work (no, not the government!) has a firewall, I have no idea what it blocks. Actually, that's not totally true, since I didn't watch most of the game. I did keep my headphones on though and flipped to MLBtv if anything interesting happened. As I said, I didn't watch most of the game.
Actually, it's a little more complicated. While I didn't watch today's game, I *did* watch yesterday's game, and as far as I'm concerned, today's game was the same as yesterday. So, maybe I did watch today's game. Random philosophical questions aside, I'm beginning to question why I'm writing this recap, since, realistically, I could just copy and paste yesterday's recap.
For the second game in a row, the Mariners got out to an early lead. There were differences in how the Mariners got there. Yesterday, Kyle Seager hit a home run. Kyle Seager has been solid, so it was interesting to see him continue to be solid. Today, Carp grounded out and Smoak hit a single. Smoak has been terrible, and as a result, Smoak hitting a single is interesting in a very different way from Seager. I don't want to sound optimistic or anything, but I've felt like he's laid off a few more low breaking balls the last few days.
In any case, much like yesterday, an extremely boring, albeit older, Mariners starting pitcher proceeded to throw away the offense's early effort. Millwood obviously hasn't been a Mariner for long, or he would have known to have held onto that lead. For a guy who's expected to provide veteran leadership, that decision seems incredibly difficult to explain. How do you expect Smoak to perform well if the pitchers just waste his efforts? Clearly, Smoak isn't nearly as determined as Seager, since while Seager responded with an additional home run, Smoak responded with an additional walk - which is about the least determined thing you can do in baseball.
Kevin Millwood is a decent innings eater, but I can't say that I have any interest in watching him pitch again. He now has an utterly Millwood 5.34 ERA and the Mariners have enough young pitching that I'd rather see someone under age 25 put up a 5.34 ERA. I strongly doubt that Charlie Furbush can be a major league starter, but I'd even rather see him produce a 6.0 ERA on the off chance that he does better. I'd rather start Ramirez at this point for similar reasons.
Much like yesterday, the final few innings proceeded uneventfully. The game was just close enough to keep the headphones in, but the Mariners rarely appeared poised for a comeback. The best thing I can say is that the Mariners didn't strike out as often, but the Mariners weren't facing James Shields.
If any Mariner was interesting, it was John Jaso, who went 2/4 with 2 doubles in his first start at catcher as a Mariner. He wasn't terrible at fielding the position, like I expected, but it was clear that he's terrible at controlling the running game. The Rays know that better than anyone, since he's a former, and consequently decided to steal two bases. I don't exactly enjoy watching Olivo play catcher, but I think we're going to see quite a few stolen bases over the next few weeks. On the other hand, Jaso is clearly not so bad at catching that we should have waited a month to see him start, especially considering that Olivo's catching skills leave much to be desired.
Did the Mariners just play one or four games against Tampa Bay? They all blur together. It turns out that the Mariners lost all four of these games, which means we got swept. I can't say that this really felt much like a sweep, perhaps because we were competitive in each game, or perhaps because we held leads relatively often. It might also not feel so much like a sweep because my feelings are so tied to the success of the youngsters, and they didn't necessarily have a terrible series. Montero and Seager both had career days and I felt like Smoak looked a little better, even if the results were not.
All told, I'd prefer not to face anyone named Ray again for a while, let alone a team of them. Three reasons. One: their field is absolutely disgusting and I can't stand watching the... dust... or whatever it is... splash off of the astroturf. Two: they're pretty good, and I'd like to win. Three: my fantasy team has plenty of Rays, and I don't like it when my interests clash with the Mariners. Fortunately, the Mariners are playing the Twins next. I don't have any Twins on my fantasy team, and that's good for my fantasy team and the Mariners chances.