Sunday, April 27, 2008

Winnin' yoo-glee

I went to my first M's game last night, and although I sat in the third deck overlooking left field, enjoyed watching Bedard pitch. He wasn't overpowering (the gun showed his fastball to be in the 89-92 range), but he seemed to keep the A's hitters off-balance all night long. His line was good: 6 2/3 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 4 K's, 4 BB's, albeit against a lineup that features a hell of a lot of Triple A hitters. It was the perfect opponent to tune up against.

The lineup was painful to witness, even if the results were what we wanted. After the average-to-above-average top four of Ichiro, Lopez, Ibanez and Beltre, McLaren trotted out the following: Norton, Sexson, Wilkerson, Burke, Betancourt. Crap, crap, crap, crap and decent. Three games behind first notwithstanding, the M's are not going to be able to keep up with the lack of overall talent they have offensively. There are just too many holes in the lineup, even when regulars Johjima (.194) and Vidro (.195) are in it. Maybe especially when they are in it, at least at this point. If Greg Norton is batting fifth in your lineup (even though he did go 3-for-4 with 3 RBI's last night), you know you have issues.

And then there's the bullpen. I admit that I still believe this is an area of strength for this ball club. Corcoran, Green and Morrow have been pretty solid, with opponents hitting .211, .213 and .083 against them, respectively. Green's 10 BB's in 12 2/3 IP are a large blemish, though, portending bigger problems for him. Speaking of problems, JJ Putz was just awful last night. I know he is rusty, but it was painful to watch him walk three and give up two hits in his one inning of work, turning a 5-1 game into a nail-biter. I was annoyed that Morrow wasn't left in the game - partly because he only threw 11 pitches in the 8th, mostly because he was in line for a cheap save for my fantasy team - and my annoyance grew as Putz struggled. Had the M's faced a team with a real lineup, this could have been a devastating loss.

I was grateful to see the Mariners hold on for the win and Bedard was a treat to watch, but with the offense Seattle has and the over-compartmentalization McLaren performs as manager, it's going to take divine intervention for this team to stay in the race all season long. Or a real GM.


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