In the pregame show, a female fan wrote in "Is it just me, or are the Mariners not having any fun playing baseball?" Possible answers to this unspeakably naive question:
- You do understand that they are in Cleveland, do you not ...
- ... playing an insanely early game after a night game...
- ... Filling a bunch of mileage on their leads-the-league chart
- Baseball players report to the office for 8 hours in order to ---> swing the bat five times
- If it were a question of stamp collecting, playing Rainbow Road, unicycling, or reading Seattle Sports Insider, then the concept of "fun" would come into question
- Good teams bash forearms and stuff, but "there's a time and a place for it"
- Didn't you even catch the postame-sake jousting between Mr. Basebaru and his sourpuss manager
Blowers went with something more like "It's a job, sister. When you win, when you have something go right, that's the satisfaction (not to say pleasure) in your job." Okay. But you'll notice that when the enemy pitcher can't wait to get to ball back from the catcher, the attiude tends to be reflected on the scoreboard. And you remember the old story about 1979 Johnny Miller moping around a PGA Tourney and a playing partner, asking "John, do you LIKE playing golf?" Sparking a career turnaround.
Having said all that, yeah. When the pitcher's tempo is brisk, when the players are high-fiving, they're playing better. End of story.
The Mariners faced a four-pitch right hand slopballer who tops out at 86 or something. Google "Markham/Marcum" and you'll find several Sherriffs of Nottingham, one notable King's Treasurer, a few cattler rustlers, and we're sure there is a purse snatrcher in their someplace. Marcum filched strikes all night with high school talent and world-class moxie. The M's cobbled two hits, got off the bases as quickly as decently allowed, and got on the Tarmac as quickly as decently allowed. This, Virginia, was known as a "getaway game."
J.A. Happ is a battler, but I can't for the life of me figure out what is his "putaway pitch." You stare and stare, and the almanacs give him credit for 7 K's a game. On 3-and-2, he has thrown 50 fastballs and 6 something elses since Opening Day 2014. They are good fastballs, but they are predictable fastballs. Leading us to the question:
What does J.A. Happ have that Mike Montgomery does not? Mike Zunino got bounced from the game the other day, and Welington Castillo started calling for a blizzard of 75 MPH change curves. He went from J.A."pitch to contact" Happ to something physically resembling the young Barry Zito or Boomer Wells.
Dr. D has always had a fondness for the lefty who can throw a bloop curve without tipping it. Here are the ilk who could do that in 2014, 75 MPH or slower from the left side, 5% or more of the time:
- John Lester (12%)
- Jason Vargas (9%)
- Clayton Kershaw (14%)
- C.J. Wilson (17%)
- Mark Buehrle (13%; that baby is only 71 MPH)
- John Danks (9%)
From the right side, you got Zack Greinke, Doug Fister, and ... Jered Weaver has made a joke out of it, throwing it 20% of the time at 69%. Those guys, plus Montgomery, are the 10-pitcher list of guys with deployable change curves right now.
The moral of the story is that if a lefty can really snap off a change curve, he's got somethin'. A change speed game like that really pulls some hesitant swings, and it ain't like Montgomery is slow with the fastball. Dr. D would like to see more. From here, Montgomery looks like a whale of a #7 starting pitcher. At least, they used to show you worse #7's in the Kingdoom.
Otherwise, the less said about this clunker, the better. The fun factor Thursday: in the general range of zero. The bottom line: A series win, based off Kluber and Bauer.
The 12-second highway scan: Happy Felix Day Friday. Then Montgomery and Elias. For the Lastros, losers of 7 in a row: LH Olberholtzer (12 IP this year, 8:7 CTL, can you say Trumbo Time and Boomstick is expected to play), RH McHugh (4.64 ERA, 10 taters coughed up), and RH McCullers (throwing well). No Keichel (7-2, 1.90), Feldman or Hernandez.