Seattle Mariners postsSaturday January 06, 2018
'Mariano Rivera Could Not Get Him Out': #EdgarHOF
My man Joey Poz makes the case (for about the 20th time) for Edgar Martinez for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's fun. Read the whole thing. Some highlights:
Mariano Rivera could not get him out. I don't think an amazing career like Edgar Martinez's could be summed up by just seven words, but those seven words tell a pretty good story. ...
Martinez faced Rivera 14 times [from 1995 to 2001]. Yes, it's true that half of those plate appearances were in 1995, when Rivera was a struggling starter still trying to find himself. Still, Martinez faced the great Rivera 14 times over a six-year period — and he reached base 13 times, hitting .769.
After 2000, when Rivera was ascendant and Martinez began to decline, Rivera got Martinez out a few times, but he knew this was only because Martinez was no longer himself. Still, Rivera never forgot. In '04, when Martinez was 41 and at the end, Rivera faced him in a tied game with the winning run on second base. Rivera walked him without hesitation. “I still don't know how to get him out,” Rivera admitted.
The last time the two men faced each other, Martinez rapped a single.
Thing is, just about every pitcher Martinez faced in his prime will list him as their toughest out. Pedro Martinez said he was the toughest hitter he ever faced, and Pedro was one of the few pitchers who actually had success against him. Randy Johnson said Martinez was the best hitter he ever saw. David Cone, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, all of them say the same thing; it seems like every good pitcher of the 1990s put Martinez in a different class. Other hitters did, too. Alex Rodriguez called him the best hitter he ever played with. Jeter said he was the one guy he would watch in the cage.
That realization — that Martinez was in a different class — seems like it will push him over the top in Hall of Fame voting.
Ms Get 2B Dee Gordon for CF
2B or not 2B? Apparently not, as yesterday Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto acquired second baseman (and perennial NL stolen-base leader) Dee Gordon from the Miami Marlins, with plans to move him to center field. Sure, why not? He'll cover ground anyway, and he's got a glove. What did we give up? I'll let ESPN's David Schoenfield talk:
Jerry Dipoto has said he wanted to acquire a center fielder for the Mariners ... so he acquired Dee Gordon from the Marlins. ... He's signed for three more seasons plus an option so he could be a long-term solution there. They did give up Nick Neidert, their top pitching prospect. He's not a flamethrower, but immediately becomes one of the Marlins' top prospects as well and Derek Jeter has dealt away his first major chunk of salary.
Man, I hate helping effin' Jeter.
Gordon will turn 30 in April, which generally isn't a good age for a speedster ... until we remember (because surely we remember) that Lou Brock set the single-season stolen base record in 1974 at age 34/35.
Gordon can also hit: He's got a .293 career average. What he doesn't do is walk (.329 career OBP) or hit for power (.367 career slugging). He's got 11 HRs in his career, 40 triples and only 90 doubles. That last is shocking. His best doubles season is 24: twice. I imagine we'll place him at the top of the lineup. But if he slumps at Safeco, as players have been known to do, we're in trouble.
That said, his WAR last season was 3.1, which is equal to Jean Segura's. And it'll be nice to have some speed on the basepaths. Here's a highlight reel from a few years ago:
M's Game: a Jammin' Anthem, an Inauspicious Win
Play of the game: Rookie sensation Ben Gamel hits a two-out, two-strike, three-run homer to put the M's on top.
Every March, a group of us get together to divvy up the season tickets for section 327, row 9, seats 13 and 14, to watch the Seattle Mariners play baseball at Safeco Field. That meeting, with jokes, cynicism, and baseball trivia flying, is often the best part of the season. The rest of it, after all, is the Mariners. Plus our section isn't exactly full of diehards. I don't think I've seen the same face more than twice. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the 327 seats have been scooped up by the secondary market, StubHub or something, because too often we wind up sitting next to fans of the opposing team. Last night included.
From the start, it didn't look auspicious. For one, I hadn't really sought out anyone to go with. The only one I asked specifically was my friend Jeff, last minute, but he was a “Nah,” so instead I posted the following on my Facebook page:
Anyone interested in going to the Ms game with me tonight? 7 PM start. Forecast calls for high 60s, overcast, and with potential smoke from central Washington wildfires. The team has lost three in a row and is mostly out of the wildcard race, so we're fairly sure to extend our postseasonless streak to 16 years—best in the Majors. We're rooting just for pride now. On the plus side, you'll be w/me and my sunny personality. IM if interested. EOE.
Oh, and we're two games under .500.
Starting pitcher will be longtime fan favorite Mike Leake, whom we acquired eight days ago from St. Louis.
A career in sales doesn't await. No takers. Until Patricia was talking to Jeff's wife, Sullivan, and she said she'd go. Why not? So off we went, past the construction sites and homeless, through the wafts of ocassional marijuana smoke and the more pervasive wildfire variety, and down to Safeco. Sullivan turned out to be a great baseball game companion. I never had to worry about a lull in the conversation and I got to feel smart explaining how a slugging percentage is calculated.
Outside the park, I bought a Grand Salami with Ben Gamel on the cover. My friend Tim is production designer/art director for the magazine, and earlier he and me and some friends had wondered over cover lines. “Gamel's Got Game”? “Gamel's a Gamer”? “Hey Yankees: Thanks for Ben Gamel”? The publisher wound up going with the simpler “Ben Gamel: Rookie Sensation,” although, to be frank, Gamel hadn't been of late. Before the midseason All-Star break, he hit .323 with an .828 OPS; post break, it was .214 with a .586 OPS.
The game began inauspiciously: Single, double, single. We're down 2-0, nobody out, Justin Upton on first and Albert Pujols at the plate. “This guy,” I told Sullivan, “used to be the best hitter in baseball, and now he's one of the worst.” “Why is he still playing?” Sullivan wondered. As I was about to explain his rep, and his long-term deal, and the fact that even last year he was good, and there was hope he would still be, you know, Albert Pujols, he hit a grounder to third. Over to second and back to first for an easy double play. Albert was chugging barely halfway up the first-base line by the time it was complete.
“He also has the all-time record for grounding into double plays,” I added. “Set it this year. Broke Cal Ripken's mark.”
That DP turned out to be huge. In the top of the 5th, with two outs, the Angels' first baseman C.J. Cron hit a single, and I noticed it was only their fourth hit of the night. Meaning it was their first hit since the first three guys. After his initial yips, as Sullivan called them, Leake had settled down considerably.
By this point we were also ahead, 4-2, on a two-out, three-run homer by Ben Gamel, our cover guy, in the 2nd; and a two-out, bases-loaded single by Mitch Haniger in the 3rd. That proved to be enough. Angels added a run in the 6th when Pujols hit a two-out single (a deep single) to plate Justin Upton. Pujols again started the 9th with a deep single to left. All of his deep singles looked like doubles to me, but then you'd see him chugging along the basepaths and knew he couldn't make it to second. (How he has 14 doubles on the season, I don't know.) In the 9th, he was replaced, of course, for a pinch runner, who stole second, but Edwin Diaz closed it out for us. A sudden win for my last scheduled game of the season.
These are the M's pitchers I've seen start for us this year:
- Ariel Miranda (2)
- Yovani Gallardo (2)
- Andrew Moore (2)
- Dillon Overton
- Sam Gaviglio
- Marco Gonzales
- Mike Leake
It's amazing they went 6-4 when I was there.
A highlight of the night for me was the National Anthem, performed by Mike McCready of Pearl Jam in rockin' Jimi Hendrix/electric guitar fashion, which apparently he does semi-regularly. Seattle may not have any pennants above the right-field bleachers but we got that.
M's Game: Now Pitching for the Mariners ... Someone
Second pitch. Pay attention, girls.
Is it possible for even the most gung-ho fan to keep track of Mariners starting pitching anymore? This was our rotation at the beginning of the year:
- Felix Hernandez
- Hisashi Iwakuma
- James Paxton
- Ariel Miranda
- Yovani Gallardo
- Felix Hernandez (DL: 10)
- Hisashi Iwakuma (DL: 60)
- James Paxton (DL: 10)
- Ariel Miranda
- Yovani Gallardo
- Erasmo Ramirez? (traded for: July 28)
- Andrew Albers? (purchased: Aug. 12)
- Marco Gonzales? (traded for: July 21)
Iwakuma lasted just six starts (I never got to see him), Felix a lucky 13 (I never got to see him) and Paxton, who became our ace, 20 (yeah, never saw him, either).
All in all, we've had 16 pitchers start games this season. I've seen Miranda twice, Gallardo twice, and Andrew Moore, who made his Major League debut in June and was sent back to the minors in July, twice. I was there for Dillon Overton's only start in May (he lasted 3 1/3; he's now with San Diego), one of Sam Gaviglio's starts (he's had 11, the most for any of the non-five), and yesterday, against Baltimore, before the M's roadtrip for the rest of August, I was there with my friend Andy on a sunny Wednesday afternoon to see Marco Gonzales make his third start for the team since being acquired from St. Louis in late July. Previously he'd lasted 4 innings against KC and 4 1/3 against the Angels. The hope was he'd go longer.
It didn't look good at the outset. O's shortstop Tim Beckham sent Marco's second pitch into the right-field bleachers. Then he settled down, the M's scored some runs—chiefly on new acquisiton Yonder Alonso's first homer as an M—and Marco took a 3-1 lead into the 5th. He needed just two outs to have his longest outing since Sept. 14, 2014, when he went 5 2/3 for St. Louis against Colorado. He got the first out fast: Chris Davis went swinging. This was followed by a single, a single, a wild pitch, a triple, a single, a single, and there went that chance. It's all Scott Servais could stands, he could stands no more. In came Tony Zych—the last word in M's relief. He got the next two guys and ultimately the win.
It wasn't a bad game. They had the lead, we tied it and took it; then they tied it and took it. In the bottom of the 5th, the M's scored 3 right back again (single, HBP, single, pop out, single, single, single, double play), then tacked on another in the 6th on Leonys Martin's solo shot to make it 7-4. In the 9th, with this cushiest of closer leads, fireballer Edwin Diaz came in and ... couldn't find the plate. Three walks in a row to load the bases. Then Manny Machado hit a sac fly (speared by Martin, nicely, in right center), and Schoop struck out, and he seemed nearly out of it. Until he hit the next two guys with pitches. That made it 7-6, bases loaded, and Servais went to the pen again. For Marc Rzepczynski. Who, as if to show Diaz how it's done, struck out Chris Davis on three pitches. Happy walk home.
A week ago, when the M's were the second team in the wild-card hunt, the game might've felt important. But that was before the M's five-game losing streak, mostly to the Angels. No one can seem to hold onto that second wild card spot, can they? The Royals surged, claimed it, then fell back. Same, at various times, with the Rays, M's, Twins. Now it's the Angels turn. Even the Rangers are still in the hunt. The M's are just 1.5 back, but with three teams between them and the golden (brass/tin) ring, and with this rotation made up of wire and chewing gum, which is why nothing yesterday felt particularly urgent. Andy and I talked about a recent trip he'd made to the Olympic peninsula, politics, of course (to vent, more anything), and Charlottesville. We chatted up a wedding party seated next to us—half of them were from Balmer—then met up with our friend Paige, who had taken her boy and two of his friends to the game and were sitting 30 rows back of the M's dugout. Paige, a big Seahawks fan, didn't get that 9th inning, but that's baseball. It's certainly M's baseball.
It was my ninth game at Safeco this year. They're 5-4.
No. 500, about to be launched into the right-field corner
I love me some doubles. My friend Jim and I are always talking it up whenever anyone challenges the single season doubles record, 67, set by Earl Webb in 1931, which, for a time, seemed like every other year—even though none of those guys wound up with even 60. The highest recent total was 59 by Todd Helton in 2000, which is tied for 7th all-time with Chuck Klein and Tris Speaker. But there's an asterisk there. Albert Belle hit 52 of them during the '95 season, which was shortened by a month by an owner strike, as was, obviously, '94, when Chuck Knoblauch was stuck on 45 with two months left in the season. We'll never know how far these guys might have gone.
The Mariners' Robinson Cano has never hit more than 48 doubles in a season, but last night against KC he became the 63rd player to slug 500 doubles for his career. (He's currently tied for 61st with John Olerud and Goose Goslin.) And he's only 34. Where might he wind up? Only 17 guys have 600+ and I could definitely see him getting there. Since he averages 30+ a year, it would take a serious injury to stop him. What about 700? That's a tougher get. Only four guys have done that—the last Pete Rose, and he played forever. But top 20 all-time? Definitely.
These aren't magical numbers like homeruns but they should be. Congrats, Robby. Keep it going.