M's Deliver Kill Shot to Angels, 5-3
those eyelids look like "soft vision" and "relaxation" to me, sensei

.

Well, if not a "kill shot," certainly a buffer shot.  From the position they're in, the Angels can do little damage to the M's lead.  On the other hand, from the position WE are in, we can do great damage to their deficit.  As GM Mikhail Tal once said, "I don't know if I could win this position with White.  But I do know that with Black I could lose it, and in only a few moves."

That's point A.  The M's have begun operations by pulling the fangs of the tiger before it can get close enough to bite.  That's just good chess, brotha.  And in related news, the Angels start Jaime Barria Tuesday rather than Shohei Ohtani.  Recalled from Salt Lake to make the start.  Ain't it something to have the other guys doing that kinda thing?

WILD CARD + - GB
Boston +45 -22
Seattle +42 -24
Rodents +37 -30 -5.5
Orcs +34 -32 -7.5

We're technically 1/2 game up on the Astros; the Mainframe expects them to take the division by 6-8 games right now.  Next update tomorrow.

The Blue Jays have fallen off to -6 below .500.  Pleasingly, the worst teams in the AL have muscled up a bit, from .300 to .350-.400 or so, and that has caused some of the "rivals" to drop back.  Also the Twins are -6 and if you don't want to do the quick calculation in your head, that puts them -12.0 full games behind the Mariners, bordering on a prohibitive deficit.  How's that grab yer.

Playoff odds at BP, 6% for the Twins and we've got two weeks to the halfway point.  66% for the M's!  and they've got Houston at 98%, LOL.  Gimme som'a that action.

The goal remains simple.  Stay +3, +4 up on LAA so we can manipulate Zeus into the WC game.  Well, him or Felix, depending on who you ask.

....

The key at-bat, if you weren't watching, occurred in the 5th inning.  M's up 5-2, but three (3) Angels on base and their #3 hitter Justin Upton to the plate.  Two out, Trout having just been IBB'ed. 

Chasen Bradford is warm in the bullpen, RH-on-RH, and Wade LeBlanc has thrown 89 pitches.  The pitching change is obvious.  Except!  Scott Servais' intuition (as well as a short matchup track record) tells him that Wade LeBlanc can handle this -- even with 77-83-87 left hand pitches against the slider-speed Upton.

The count runs to 3-2.  LeBlanc chooses a pitch that Upton cannot believe:  an 83 MPH cutter right down the middle.  Swinging late (?!), he misses completely.  LeBlanc's 5th strikeout in 5 IP.

I don't know if Wade LeBlanc can continue to suppress opponents by out-guessing them with 83 MPH cutters.  But I do know that Roenis Elias can fail to suppress them, and in only a few pitches.  Whether he throws two more good games or twenty, you've got to give LeBlanc credit for "makeup."  When he is on the mound I like the FEEL of the competition, like the way he represents my city.  There are $20 arms with 10-cent heads, and there are the reverse.  Enjoy LeBlanc's pitching for his personality.  Like Moyer, he's got "the stones of a burglar."  There have been, and are, quite a few Mariners who do not.

....

Postscript:  some cutters have a wrinkle, a 4-inch gloveside break.  Dr. D has an aversion to these, for no good reason.  Other cutters have 9-10 inch gloveside swerves, like sliders except faster.  Dr. D has a real affection for these.

LeBlanc throws the latter.  His 87-mph slowball has a good swerve, 6" rise by 9-10" armside (nice movement considering the lack of velocity to help it move).  His 83-MPH cutter has real bite, 6" rise by 0-1" armside.

Super Wade mixed 'em at a 33-27-23 ratio, fastball-change-cutter.  That pitch to Upton made us 18-5 over the last three weeks, redonkulous but I don't notice that bad Mariners teams ever go 18-5 for three weeks.

....

Both Mike Trout and Nelson Cruz homered 2x apiece.  We have no more words for Cruz' launch velocities.  Except you know who he reminds me of ... the rookie Richie Sexson.  Everybody would back wayyyyy up and even his singles whistled by the infielders a yard away.  With Cruz, it's just a question of whether he gets the right angle any more.  Ball after ball after ball leaves his bat at 100-115 MPH.

Wow, two weeks ago we weren't sure.  Now we've got our cleanup hitter back.  That's kinda big.  Is there a July 31 move that's going to matter more?

Here's a StatCast on one of his HR's Monday.  Same velocity as Trout's 457-footer but a lower angle, 16 degrees vs. 19.

....

Guillermo Heredia, it had seemed, had been having some trouble at the plate since stepping onto the fulltime stage under the bright lights.  Turns out he too clocks in at a 92 OPS+ the last 30 days.  :: hip hip hooray ::  That of course is despite the scouting and emphasis against him now.

Plate discipline the last 30 days:  still a wonderful 23.7% chase rate (against the 30% average).  He's even pulling the trigger on strikes at a 69.1% rate (vs. 67% average).  Apparently he's going to be fine.  It COULD be that these numbers are precisely the ones that emboldened Jerry Dipoto to start the advisories as to Robinson Cano's return.

....

At D-O-V the thought was floated that the solution is easy:  Cano to 1B this year, to DH next year.  Very easy except for Robinson Cano's feelings about it:  "I signed a contract to play second base for ten years."  Perhaps he can play it in Oakland for the last five, with us footing 40% of the bill, naturally.

....

3 hits for Sudden Jean Segura:  89, 90, 91.  His re-emergence as a 200-hit man (.343/.365/.483) gives the Mariners a clear 4 offensive stars, and the other guys are 90-105.  Grant me a continued Big Three (very tenuous) and a continued star bullpen (not at all tenuous) and I'm glad to call this team the equal of those Royals teams that won it...

Segura has 1.7 WAR the last month.  A 10-WAR rate of production.

On TV they were struggling to explain why it matters that he doesn't stride.  Some how, some way, he gets average-mediocre MLB launch velocity off a golfer's putting motion.  That "some how, some way" correlates with Teddy Ballgame's first principle of busting a slump -- Be quick, quick, quick. 

You can sock me in the mouth more quickly with a lead jab than you can by pulling your back hand back to full extension and throwing it from there.  Jean Segura has a clean, short motion.  As a completely separate issue, he's got special reflexes.  And as a completely separate issue from that, he's willing to let the ball travel an extra 2 feet (taking a pitch out of the catcher's mitt for a RF single), which is an extra 5-10% to his decision time.

In other words, everything about Segura's approach turns a 94-MPH fastball into an 89-MPH fastball.  It's a pleasure to watch him hit.  A living embodiment of Teddy's First Rule.

Enjoy,

Dr D

Comments

1

Just shared it on Facebook. Your ability to write like this overnight continues to amaze and delight me, Doc. You ought to be in the press box, but thanks to the Internet, it doesn’t matter to your readers that you aren’t. 

Still, you ought to be. 

2
tjm's picture

Rick - I share the sentiment, but in the journalism biz telling someone they belong in the press box would not be regarded as praise. Rather, a life sentence to hard labor in bad conditions.

4

Many times you've taken the trouble to write out an "attaboy" and it is so much appreciated.  Some of them I've saved to note files.  You're a kind person amigo.

5

Echo that, great recap--been waiting awhile to see them put away the Angels like they did last night. Two more would be nice; the Angels can't be far enough back to suit me.

On Canó: the move to 1B/DH seems like a win for the team and likely for Canó himself. Impressed with the foresight to press the move now when there is good leverage with the team playing well, a different style/leadership emerging and Robbie's reputation a little tarnished from the suspension. When he returns in August it may be to a team that expects him to prove that he belongs and can contribute rather than one that is desperate for help. Might be just the grease needed to slide him into the next phase of his career.

8

...that...for years now, I've argued that defense is undervalued, Doc argued it was overvalued and preferred the hard RBI and arena baseball...and now here we are with Doc plumping for us to trade away our best hitter and RBI man to a hot division rival while eating half his salary so that we avoid Cano making pouting faces and ensure that the water bug defensive 2B keeps his position while I argue that such a move would be nuttier than a bag of Planters and that our offense is in serious danger of falling apart immediately upon the exit of Nelson Cruz if no suitable replacement is found...like a 35 year old former second baseman with a 70 HIT tool and the steroid guarantee to gracefully aging.

9

then it would be no issue.  If it turns into a Chone Figgins-style clubhouse mutiny then that's another subject.  Pro athletes are a different breed amigo.

Re:  defense - it's important to think in terms of shades of gray, of multiple interdependent variables.  For teams of type A-1-X, then factor 2-C-3 might be the tipping point.  For other teams, the critical change might be something else.

On friendly blogs known for their chipper conversation, it's important to monitor your ratio of complaints to positive thoughts.

10

Not sure I understand why it came across that way, but I sincerely apologize. I wasn't complaining our intending to mock...I thought the tone would read "tongue in cheek".

Regarding Cano, I'd point out that he was also playing well defensively. The issue is Gordon, of course.

I don't see Cano as the mutiny type...before the roids, I thought he was a class act...the entire clubhouse seemed to love him...he was their leader. If he does go about pouting and raising trouble, the conversation changes, of course. Just don't see it as likely. He has no political capital this season...he abandoned the team in their best year (not intentionally, but ya know...j. If he's smart at all (and I think he is), he's not going to complain about moving positions.

11
tjm's picture

Robbie has always been a great clubhouse guy. That won't change. And I, too, worry about the offense. I want Cano's bat in the lineup every night. 

12

--about a month ago I said here that i wasn't ready to cede the division to the Astros.  I don't think anyone replied--for good reason.  That's nuts.  But my thinking was that as excellent as they are, a couple of their starters were due to fall off their levels at that point.  And I think that still holds.  Or maybe Trevor Bauer is right that they're increasing spin rates with some resin mixture applied to their hands...and they get caught.

--But I was also basing this on the assumption that our lineup would continue to be 1 to 9 awesome.  Well, then Cano disappeared.  And now we have Haniger and Gordon and Seager and Healy (sort of) slumping--and Zunino perpetually.  Let's say two of those guys wake up--preferably by the time Boston arrives--then what?  Continued good things, I think.  (And that doesn't even consider our 'deadline acquisition' of Mr. Robinson Cano.}

--Also, at the start of the year, there was convrersation here that in order for us to make the playoffs, a couple of guys would have to absolutely break through.  I don't think I was alone in not considering LeBlanc.  Wow.  

--It's understandable that low-leverage Chasen Bradford isn't getting much love--or even attention.  But my, he has delivered.  

--Boston and the Yankees have to play each other a lot.  Is it impossible that one or the other can win 75% of those matchups?  If so, the first wildcard comes into play.

But most of all...winning is FUN!

14

Winning the AL West is our optimal scenario, and it's definitely on the table.

Just picture this: we win the West. Bos/NYY (with presumably a better record than us) faces the winner of {NYY/Bos vs Hou} on one side of the ALDS, while we get... Official Division Champion (TM) Cleveland.

Sign me up, anytime. Maybe it's more likely than not that Houston passes us up, but it seems FAR from inevitable.

15
tjm's picture

Keuchel and McCullers are both off. Cole could suddenly remember who he is. Verlander is 35 - his next pitch might be his last.

But, absolutely, Diderot, everything that was said in early May assumed our offense would be upper tier. It's been in a slump for a month. If it wasn't for the schedule and a bizarre streak of great pitching - perhaps correlated (!); perhaps highly correlated - we'd be tied with the Angels instead of the Astros. The Pythag doesn't bother me a lick. Those wins are in the bank. The schedule bothers me a lot. Scares the crap out of me. I think all the old buffaloes in our herd here have all too vivid memories of what looked like a promising team suddenly go 6-22 for a month.

I hate playing the Angeles as I'm locked out of MLB and have to watch the Angel broadcasts. They haven't had a decent play-by-play guy since Niehaus went north. Well, there was that period where they had that Enberg guy! He was ok.

16

John Miller, Harry Caray.  Of course Dave.

In any sport is an announcer more important? Maybe soccer.  Maybe golf.

17

Did you guys see that yesterday Eric Filia went to the BoSox as the PTBNL in the Roenis Elias trade?

I must say, uh.....whaaaaat?

Filia is a video game type hitter right now, has been since he got a baseball paycheck.   .343-.428 as a pro.

OK, he has no real position and doesn’t mash homers....but he’s a ping pong machine.  I admit to being bamboozled by us trading our best young bat for Elias.  I know that we have  Healy, Vogs and White......but Filia has that Boggs look all about him.  I like Vogelbach but I would have sent him first.  

Sigh.

Dipoto has a huge soft spot for softy-swervy lefties.  Back in ‘15, I said to give Elias some time.  He’s had it....and it seems his future is as a middling tweener.

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