Three games into 2012 and I havenít been able to watch one of them live. The first two because they were played in some alternate reality and this one for everyday boring reasons. The sweetest days for a sports fan were between the invention of the DVR and Twitter. There was no knowledge that the worldís biggest sports bar was out there online responding/snarking/yelling/laughing at everything as it happened live. Already all of you feel so necessary to this experience. At least until all the games blend together and we all start hate-watching them. Anyway, to ďanalysis.Ē
This was the offensive attack that I think a lot of people have in mind for a template for success for this roster. The Mariners ran the pitch count up on a good pitcher, harassed with speed, drew enough walks and flashed just enough power to cause damage. They benefited hugely from a poor play by Josh Donaldson at third on Chone Figginsí bunt however that was an error caused by the pressure of speed. On nights when Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero donít get off this is how the team will have to score and it was nice to see them do it against an above average pitcher. Smoak and Montero should by no means consider it to be an invitation to keep being boring though.
Michael Saunders began his career redemption story in earnest with a ringing double to center and a classic Ichiro single on a grounder to first that caught the pitcher napping. It was nice to see Saunders flash the power/speed combination we all know is there. With a lot of people thinking Carp is due for regression the possibility of an effective Saunders/Gutierrez combo in Left/Center is one of the early season stories Iíll be following closely.
The made for a drive-in movie Fatherís Day special double feature that is Steve Delabar and Tom Wilhelmsen provided 2 2/3 innings of high speed, effective relief. Neither walked a man and they combined to strike out four. Wilhelmsen seemed to struggle with command early which led to some balls getting hit hard but showed the margin for error that exists with a 96 MPH fastball as he got crucial strike outs in the games last moderately high pressure moments. I think. I think they were the last high pressure moments because ROOT sports made like my DVR and cut the game after 3 hours, thus ensuring that live viewers can experience the pain and frustration that comes from failing to program your DVR correctly. As frustrated as I was watching it was hard not to feel for the studio talent as they attempted to BS their way through an exceedingly awkward situation. It didnít help that half the studio talent is an automated wax sculpture.
Easily the most memorable moment of the game was in the 4th when Youtube sensation Yoenis Cespedes absolutely obliterated a Jason Vargas cutter on a 462 foot, helium filled homer that in one play showed why he received 4 year, 36 million dollar without ever playing a game in the big leagues. He also struck out two more times and is up to five strikeouts in eleven at bats. While those numbers donít mean anything substantive they reinforce what we generally thought about Cespedes going into the year. He is going to dazzle with amazing skills at times, and other times he is going to look like the worldís strongest Yuniesky Betancourt. While some people, including Mike Blowers in the booth, thought Cespedesí overly enthusiastic response to his home run might warrant a fastball under the chin I think the Mariners best retaliation is the one they have planned: Four at bats against Felix Hernandez tomorrow. Enjoy.