Apropos of Nothing
There is a sushi joint in town called “I Love Sushi”. My Pavlovian response every time I pass this place is to think of the O’Jays. This causes That Song to play in my head, with the obvious substitution, until some other random thought intrudes. Maybe I should pitch this as an ad campaign to the business.
Let’s Talk Baseball!
In a move cheered throughout Mariner Nation, alleged pitchers Kanekoa Texeira and Jesus Colome, both of whom figured prominently in blowing a 4-run lead to the Angels last week, were designated for assignment this week as Sean White and Garrett Olsen were recalled from AAA Tacoma. Olsen pitched a shut-out ninth Tuesday night against Minnesota and White did good work out of the ‘pen for the Mariners last year.
The Mariners took three out of four from the Twins in the recent series, all the more impressive because the Twins have one of the most balanced, certainly one of the best fielding, teams in the American League. The win Wednesday came in the 10th after Ichiro engaged Twins reliever Jose Mijares in an epic 11-pitch battle that ended in an infield single scoring the winning run after a controversial call at second. The win Thursday came after Mariner runners used Minnesota starter Carl Pavano as a treadmill, stealing five bases. The Mariners are still 10 games under .500, but as bats have come to life and pitching improved, this looks and feels like a different team than even two weeks ago.
As Keith Saunders points out, the industry-standard 100-pitch limit for starters is somewhat arbitrary. Case in point: Thursday night Mariner starter Felix Hernandez had great stuff. He had command of all his pitches and his curveball was nearly unhittable. His fastball was clocking mid-90’s and his breaking ball was nasty. His control was such that he managed to expand the outside corner of the strike zone. He served Twins hitters a steady diet of Special-K, racking up 9, including four in the eighth. Even after delivering 116 pitches by the end of the eighth, there was no indication whatsoever that his speed or location had diminished. So with three outs to finish the game, here comes closer David Aardsma. Aardsma had a good outing, including inducing a double-play to end the game, but seriously? Your starter is absolutely smoking and gives every sign of going the distance and you pull him because of some arbitrary limit? Please.
I would lay good money that if Hernandez had been asked he would have come out in the ninth. I understand that with the Mariners record manager Don Wakamatsu is probably thinking about his job and doesn’t want to take any chances on blowing a lead, but the way Hernandez was pitching, the 3-run lead was unlikely to be compromised by the 10 or 15 pitches that would have been needed to put the game away, and it’s not as if the bullpen of late has been a huge source of confidence.
After Hernandez’ seventh strikeout, the camera cut to fans hanging K’s on a wall. The fans had to ask some people to move so that they would have room to hang more K’s. This is the stuff you like to see.
Fastest Man on Two Wheels
The finish of the 2009 Milan-San Remo bike race has become legend in the sport. Even if you don’t give a fig about bicycle racing, this video featuring Mark Cavendish’s unbelievable sprint is worth watching. Cavendish has won a lot of races, and he claims to have ridden full out in only three of them. This is one.