M's 6, Rangers 4
moments that mattered



Bill Krueger was about as disgusted as a guy like him can get, which is not very, after Felix grooved a high slowball to Rougned Odor.  If you just joined us, Odor is a bad-ball swinger (not hitter) of Vladian proportions.  You don't have to give him many strikes, much less many teeballs.  Krueg's take on Felix' early "sloppiness" matched Dr. D's own take.  Sloppiness from Felix Hernandez, in a pennant-race showdown with Cole blinkin' Hamels, is weird on a lotttttttt of levels.

When Felix trudged off the mound after 2 innings, the calculator gave the Rangers' chances to win as more than 85%.  And the calculator had no clue that Cole Hamels was pitching in the ballgame.



Pre-quel.  Nelson Cruz doubled to lead off.  Kyle Seager then doubled behind him, and Cruz ... advanced to third.  HEH

Valencia hit a very sharp grounder into the SS hole and Drew Robinson LF waved his glove at the ball vaguely, turned, and watched it roll to the wall.  Dr. D is not saying that the earlier Yu Darvish trade had anything to do with this, and he's not saying it didn't.  But on the evening, the Rangers had 4 errors, 2 balks and 1 passed ball every single one of which killed them.



In the third, fourth, and fifth, the King got back to the kind of razor-sharp thinking that has usually characterized his life in baseball.  The Rangers didn't get much of a sniff, so Cole Hamels notwithstanding the ballgame was a 1-run affair when ...



In the sixth, with three out ... whoop, two easy outs and then an easy out that Beltre burped into the railing, so Heredia was on ... Leonydas tripled deep to center.  No, wait for it, it gets better.  The pitch was a 2-strike (!) curve ball (!) from Cole Hamels.  This means that Leonys Martin is watching the pitches travel towards him, rather than hoping meatball and swinging from his wallet.

Under these specific circumstances, Leonys Martin can play baseball in the major leagues.  Not to make a value judgment or anything.



The Mariners have three major strengths and one dubious not-strength:

√ Good offense.

√ Bullpen that is, we must fairly say, excellent.

√ Cy Young #1 starter.

√ the not-strength being the rotation after Zeus.

So we are still in the mold of the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.  This means that if your SP gets you to your bullpen tied, you need'a win that game - especially when you have managed a 6th-inning tie against Cole Hamels.

Politics, if nothing else, ensured Felix came out for the 6th with 88 pitches.  There is surely some unwritten rule or other than forbids Scott Servais from removing a $25M pitcher after five innings, however it might jeapordize his chances objectively speaking.  Felix promptly allowed 3 of the first 4 Rangers on base in the 6th inning.  Luckily for us, one was thrown out stealing.  At that point, Servais was free to deploy his big flotilla of bullpen arms and Scrabble came in to KO the Rangers with ease.



9th inning, winning runs on second and third, some Ranger fires a searing lefty sidearm fastball and Cano takes that Edgar-sweet controlled swing.  It's a 1-iron right at Shin-Soo Choo and clears him 12 feet in the air before hopping off the wall.

Here's the video.  There's something incongruous about a left hand hitter swatting that pitch, so leisurely, to his straightaway pull field.  We remember a time in Robby's first year here, four years ago now, when we wondered about a superfast age-out on a superlong contract.  Now the main wondering is done over numbers like 3,000 hits, 400-500 homers, 700 doubles, stuff like that.

He's one of the most "aiki" players you'll ever see.  His state of mind is as beautiful as his sports motions are.



The Orioles beat the Royals' ace 2-1, so the M's are -2.5 out of the Wild Card.  This is it; August is our playoff baseball.  The Royals comin' up, we need 3 of those 4 or else we need 2-2 there and +8 games over .500 for the month of August, or something of that nature.

No more "plenty of time left."  We've got the 4-5 starters in here, we've got Zeus casting bolts, we've got two bullpens.  We've got to start winning now.


Dr D




I agree with your sentiment that he looked disinterested...lazy...unfocused...for two innings. I got ticked off in the second and turned the game off...checked in just as the mariners were threatening in the third.

Either something was wrong with Felix physically, our in his personal life. He isn't the lazy type


Felix is reportedly *very* concerned with what is happening in his homeland and with the family members that remain there. Apparently the Maduro regime and the "collectivos"" - thug militia - are pressuring the well-known Venezuelan ballplayers to come out in support of the regime by threatening their families. So far, only Magglio Ordonez (who is apparently a government official) has expressed support that I've heard.

Meanwhile, the M's, through their connections with the Carrasquels and Carlos Guillen, are still trying to sign Venezuelan IFAs. Not beyond reason that Felix is a bit distracted by these events and his need to tiptoe in his comments on things. But it has been suggested that he is distressed. 

Terry (tjm) has much more experience in this type of reporting and has obviously some insight into Felix (his book is WONDERFUL!), so maybe he can provide some reporting on what is happening with Venezuelan baseball. But it can't help a player's focus to hear of the things going on there. 


I'll be saying prayers for Venezuelan ballplayers and their families for a while now.

Oh...and to hades with socialism. Ruining lives the world over.

btown Bomber's picture

Socialism is a governing style that believes everyone should be taken care of. Maduro doesn't represent Socialism any more than Trump represents Conservatism.


And why on earth would a fascist ever want --- > total government control of manufacturing, production, distribution, and exchange?  (The definition of socialism, not that most Bernie supporters could give it to you.)  

Socialism is a governing "style" that is one of history's great weight-loss plans.  You might google "The Arduous March" if you deem the Venezuelan Experience an unfavorable example of government-controlled production.

We all want the needy cared for, which is why there are several food banks (free food!) within walking distance of my house.  But handing everybody's keys over to a few bureaucrats very seldom ends well.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

... but yeah Bomber.  :- )  There is a theoretical difference between fascism and socialism.  Thanks for the add.  - Jeff


I'm told my second point was vague.

I'm a bit worried the Ms are trying not to give the Venezuelan regime any excuse to move against them. They've continued to send/allow players to play winter ball there, and are trying to sign players from there - in fact, several commentators think they're going to get 3 or 4 premium prospects from Venezuela this year. But that also means they appear to be leaning on Felix and others to say nothing about what's going on, although they are asked daily about it. 

I don't know how much this enters into on-field performance, but I know Felix is VERY family-oriented and that his father is a notary (in that system essentially a lawyer who does no appearing in court - handles contracts, wills, etc.) - so he has to deal with the government regularly and so is exposed in all the stuff going on. Like Matt, I'm praying for the Venezuelan people, especially those that are caught in the middle of all this. 

The Venezuelan elites have a lot to regret about the way the country has been run and how the oil riches have been distibuted. But like Matt, I believe socialism is and has been a chimerical vision of a fair society which always ends up authoritarian and deeply unfair. Pray for a resolution, but hopefully not a revolution.


No disrespect Matt, but you and I must have watched those first two innings from different planes of the multiverse. The Felix I was watching wasn't disinterested, lazy, or unfocused. He was the diametric opposite of those things. He was bleeping pissed. He just came out, two innings in a row, and couldn't find his fastball to save his life.

-He shanked four straight pitches in the first, walked the leadoff man. Still hadn't found it by the time he left that pitch up to Odor, and the miniscule pugilist punished the mistake.

-Shanked three straight to lead off the second, barked "F***" after the third one. Was visibly, viscerally furious with himself. Fought back to 3-2, gave up a blast. Got touched up a couple more times in the inning, because his pitches were missing consistently to bad locations. By the end of the inning he had done an admirable job of reasserting a zen-like calm, even as Andrus lashed a single into left and Choo trotted home in front of Felix's face. Incidentally, this state of acceptance and calm is probably what allowed him to salvage the start, beginning in the third inning.

Did Felix come out sloppy, two innings in a row? Yeah he sure did. It was hard to watch. But was it because he didn't care enough to be better? Hell no. I went back and watched those frames, because I wanted to see if you were right. Maybe I'd catch him staring off into the distance between pitches, or greeting a XBH with a "meh" kind of shrug. That's not what happened at all. He was locked in every second the camera was on him. He had that quiet simmering fury that used to lead to Felix "murdering souls" (my personal descriptor) back when he still had his full arsenal. It was the Richard Sherman, chip-on-the-shoulder smolder. Unfortunately for Felix, he's already fired roughly 4000 bullets for us in his career, and his arm ain't what it used to be. No amount of moxy can get him through his physical shortcomings, at least at times.

Look, James Paxton wasn't a headcase back before he was Zeus. Felix isn't lazy now that he's not a Cy Young candidate. That's just lazy analysis. There's a reason Seattle loves him, and it's not just because he was good. It's because he's a goddamn warrior, and the way he carries himself representing the city and the franchise is a joy to watch. I don't care if he's past his prime: long live the King. He stayed in Seattle when he probably should have left, and he fought like a lion in seasons where he was the only one awake on the whole team. More to the point, he tried as hard as he could to keep us in the game in a start where he had his D, D+ stuff for the first two innings.

He's earned our love and respect, and I say we give it to him even though he's fallen on hard times. If anyone deserves it, this man does.


I know Felix as a fiery, intense compete with an enormous heart. This past start was the first time that I've believed I saw anything other than the above. It wouldn't have merited a comment otherwise. In other words, I have such respect for him as a player and person that I found it completely jarring and upsetting to even think that he might be unfocused or otherwise distracted.


I'm legally blind. When watching a game, I rarely have a good visual on someone's facial expressions unless they zoom in on his face. His body language was what I was seeing, more than anything. He looked uncomfortable and was moving around very slowly, hanging his head, that sort of thing. That is what I was reacting to.


Fair enough Matt. I hadn't considered that you were working off of body language instead of facial expression. I dunno if his body language said "unfocussed," but it certainly looked uncomfortable. I think Felix is still learning to make peace with the knowledge that some days he'll come out and have absolutely nothing. You're right, it's jarring to watch, and I bet it's pretty jarring for him too. The sooner he makes permanent peace with the demise of his fastball, like Kuma did, the better it will be for his pitch sequencing and his mental approach.

Sorry if I came out too strong on the other side of that one. Felix was the first baseball player I learned to love (Ichiro had already been here for a while when I became a serious fan). I may be a little overprotective of him. It's hard to watch him struggle like this, and I find myself hoping that no one makes it any harder by grumbling about how diminished he is. I imagine he's hard enough on himself that he doesn't need it from anyone else. Not that he's reading this blog, of course, so I guess I'm just trying to support an abstract principle.


I think he carries himself in the best possible way for a major league star. Confident but not arrogant, loving, but mean when necessary, emotionally intense, but not out of control.

I also think he's been far...far better than more veterans who lose their gas in terms of attempting to adapt.

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