Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mariners notes from April 7 (Minnesota 6, Seattle 5)

- Well, the first 8.8 innings went pretty well :P

- Yuniesky Betancourt won't even be the great defender he was when he first came up in 2005. You can thank getting fat and happy off the mainland for that. But the leaping Superman catch he made to rob what looked like a sure base hit indicates he's at least close. Working out and dieting this offseason did him good.

- Don't be fooled by 11 runs in 2 games: the Mariners have had a lot of luck on grounders getting past the infield for hits. You can bet that once they get off the bouncy Metrodome FieldTurf that a lot of those grounders become easy outs, so more of those grounders need to become line drives or the M's are going to look more like last year's team at the plate.

- Franklin Gutierrez makes every play look routine. There were a couple flyballs that looked like extra bases, but after a few quick steps, Gut casually strolled to the spot and made what looked like an easy catch. I give the saberheads grief but they're not kidding about the guy's range: He's probably the best CF the M's have had since Mike Cameron. He can cover all of CF and parts of LF and RF if he wants. Hell, if you stuck him out there by himself, I'm not sure you could get a flyball with any lift by him unless you hit it down the line.

- What sucks for Brandon Morrow is that he put down the first two batters easily. But even then he never had much control of his fastball, and then once he decided to work away from the next batter (a lefty), he kept missing high and outside and it just got away from him. Such is the peril of sending a guy who spent spring training injured out there to close after only four innings of work. Does he lose control of his stuff if not so rusty? Can't say for certain, but chances aren't as likely.

Manager Don Wakamatsu and Rick Adair didn't want Morrow challenging the lefthanders inside, but really, once the control was gone, they should have just said screw the game plan and had him pound fastballs on the inner half. That fastball was around 97 (the FSN gun said 93-94 but others insist that was off) and with how it moves, it's often unhittable even when he throws it down the pike. By focusing on the outside part of the plate, Morrow just landed in the no man's land of zero control and couldn't get out. Throwing it down the middle is generally bad, but when you can't hit your spots and your stuff's generally tough to hit, I think you can make an exception in game-breaking circumstances.

- And enough about Brandon Morrow's diabetes. It had far less to do with the meltdown than being rusty did.

- Even after walking the bases loaded, the Mariners still get out of this with a win and a cheap save for Miguel Batista if Denard Span's bases loaded grounder hadn't take such a high, FieldTurf aided superbounce that left Adrian Beltre with no play. One hung breaking ball from Batista to Alexi Casilla later and that was that.

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