Hard Luck Livingston
Okay, so we get a plug from the inimitable J at MarinerMinors, and I take a night off and miss yesterday's game. Great timing! To the three of you that checked back again today, thanks, and here you go:
Man, I'm really going to be glad to see the back of the A's/A's affiliates.
The Rainiers lost 5-1 tonight to the Sacramento Rivercats - that's three straight for Sacramento, after the Rainiers swept the Colorado SkySox in four.
The hard-luck loser tonight was Bobby Livingston, who went 6 innings and gave up only *one hit*. Sadly, that hit was a long HR to left by Bobby Kielty. Worse, the Rainiers had only an infield single to their credit at that point.
This game, to me, shows what promise Livingston has. In all, his pure stuff probably wasn't what it was in his last start (a win over Colorado Springs); his change just didn't have much life, and he struggled to keep it in the zone. His fastball will never really carry him (he was throwing 87), and tonight he was having a bit of trouble locating it. But his huge overhand curve, along with some guile, meant he was able to really work for a line of 6IP, 1H, 1R, 2BB, 4K. He induced 11 GB outs to 3 flyball outs - including hits, errors, etc., he gave up 12 grounders to 4 flies, one of which was an infield popup. In short, it was a great performance, but it was negated by the Rainiers inability to get to the Rivercats starter, Juan Dominguez (or the 'cats bullpen).
Dominguez walked the first two he faced, and I thought we were ready for a blowout (in his first start, Dominguez yielded 6ER in 2 2/3IP). Not quite; he got 12 of the next 14 that faced him. He had a great fastball, and was able to overpower a number of hitters. Just like last night, the Rainiers simply couldn't get an extra base hit: they had 6 hits on the night, all of them singles. TJ Bohn led the way with a 2/3 night (he also drew a walk), while Adam Jones and Shin-Soo Choo crushed pitches that were turned into deep fly outs. Since most of the Rainiers hits were little texas-leaguers off the fists or IF singles, I'm down to noting who made the loudest outs, ladies and gentlemen.
Renee Cortez put the game out of reach with two innings of 4R, 1ER, 5H, 1K baseball. This line is precisely the reason statheads complain about ERA. According to the scorer, he gave up one earned in 2 innings. In reality, he was getting tagged, and just plain couldn't locate any of his pitches. The big play was a deep fly off the bat of Matt Watson that Adam Jones dropped... Following an IF pop up, Cortez was almost out of it. Then he gave up three straight hits, and the game was basically over.
Jones made up for his gaffe with a truly impressive running catch in the next inning to deny Jeremy 'Moneyball' Brown. Playing at normal/shallow depth and shaded towards left, Brown hit a drive that would've caromed off the right-center wall around 380 feet out. Jones got a great jump, and made the catch right at the wall on a dead run. His reads have been excellent, especially for someone so new to the position. He still has lapses in concentration (see his error), but you can tell he *can* be a solid defensive CF. I still have visions of Jeremy Reed's, er, circuitous routes out in the Cheney OF, wondering how this guy was going to fare in Safeco. Well, Jones looks quite a bit better to this point, though there are major sample size issues with that...
Speaking of defenders who've looked suspect at Cheney, Mike Morse continued his epic tour around the diamond and played at SS for the first time in quite a while today. Asdrubal Cabrera's injury means we'll be seeing more of Jose Morban and Scott Youngbauer (whoo hoo!) at 2b/SS, and Morse will probably get more time on the left side of the IF as well. He looked pretty good - he had 4 assists, and while he missed one ball that a good SS probably gets to, he made a pretty nice relay on a tricky 3-6-1 double play. All in all, solid work out there.
Sean Green had a so-so 9th, yielding a walk to the first batter and then hitting another guy (on an 0-2 pitch!). Green *still* has a problem when he overthrows and misses WAAAY in to a left handed hitter (occasionally, less glaringly, he'll hit this same spot when a righty's up) - he's hit two guys, both on pitcher's counts. He's not trying to send a message, he's not trying to establish anything, he's just missing his spot by a good 1/2 a yard. He's still a great pitcher - he quickly erased the walk with a double play, and got another GB out to end it - but he's got to fix this little issue with overthrowing. It shouldn't be a big deal, because he's generally around the plate.
So even in the face of a third straight defeat, there are some real positives from tonight's game. I'd like someone else to find the good in defeat tomorrow... it sounds like Rich Dorman will go for the Rainiers against Shane 'Hawaiian Punchout' Komine.