Mini-Meet-up/Rainiers Double Header
Sunday was a day of stark contrasts - between great pitching and stomach-turning defense. Between the two-true-outcomes of Dallas McPherson and the smoke and mirrors act of Cha Seung Baek. Between the perverse pleasure in stealing a game you've got no business winning and the adrenal punch of a game winning HR (by the bad guys). Between the thrill of meeting up with my colleague here and a fellow M's blogger, and the... OK, there's no counterpoint to that at all. That was pretty sweet.
The first game was a continuation of Saturday's rain-out - yesterday's starter Clint Nageotte was charged a run today, despite sitting in the stands charting pitches. Picking up in the second for a sort of 'start' was recent call-up Cesar Jimenez, who, while lacking pinpoint control, put up a nice line of 5IP, 3H, 1R, 3BB, 6K. He was utterly outshone by Angels/Salt Lake phenom Jered Weaver, who, in 6IP struck out *12*. He struck out the first 5 hitters he faced, and had the Rainiers guessing every at-bat. He finished with a line of 6IP, 4H, 2R 1ER, 1BB, 12K which is almost Hamelsian. He threw a moving FB at 92, a slider in the 80s and a big breaking 'slurve' at around 74.
The Rainiers looked utterly lost late in the game - trailing 2-0, and unable to touch, let alone damage, Weaver. But then the factor that helped put the Rainiers in this bind ended up bailing them out. Weaver, Jimenez and Rainiers reliever Rich Dorman had benefitted from an extremely, um, generous strike zone. The umpire seemed to think the strikes needed a bit of lebensraum, and ceded a large portion of unincorporated territory to the pitcher in a sort of umpiring anschluss. This state of affairs left many hitters speechless - Rob Johnson and Shin-Soo Choo were particularly non-plussed - but it had rather the opposite effect on Salt Lake 3b Dallas McPherson. If you clicked on that link, you'd see that he's well-acquianted with the K, and I'd have thought that in generating the staggering K totals he has, he'd be familiar with the odd bad call. But a Rich Dorman FB on the outside corner (of the batter's box) had him seeing red. After swinging through a curve, McPherson barked at the ump from the dugout until he earned himself an early exit. This turned out to be quite important...
After Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to deep right-center, Weaver was pulled out in favor of Jonathon Rouwenhorst, who promptly induced a GB to McPherson's replacement, Casey Smith. Smith dropped the ball, then threw it past Kendry Morales for a two-base error. Suddenly, the tying run was on second with nobody out, Weaver was gone and the Bees were both angry and jittery. After Shin-Soo Choo failed to get a run in, Adam Jones knocked an RBI single, Greg Dobbs singled, and the Rainiers got a bit of insurance with a Mike Morse sac fly.
Emiliano Fruto closed things out despite looking a bit shaky - he walked the first batter, then threw a pitch up in the eyes of Bees catcher Mike Napoli. Fruto finished off the at bat by hitting Napoli on the back. From there, as one might expect, things got a bit better - a K, an FC and GB out and that was that.
I met up with Positive Paul and Deanna between games to pick up the 8x10 shot of Clint Nageotte I ordered (order YOURS today! They make great gifts!). Paul actually had a couple of copies in lovely black and white, and Deanna and I were lucky enough to get them autographed early in game 2, as Nageotte was charting pitches just across the aisle from us. Again, Mariner Morsels gets *results*.
Game two was less interesting, despite a nice performance from Cha Seung Baek, the Rainiers couldn't get any separation. With a new umpire at the plate, Ks were much harder to come by - unless your Dallas McPherson, who must strike out shaving, dressing himself and eating.
The Bees took a one-run lead into the final inning, and though the rainiers had runners at the corners with two outs, Hunter Brown grounded a pitch right back to Salt Lake pitcher Jason Bulger. All the Bees needed to do was complete the tricky 1-3 putout to win, but that proved too much - McPherson, who had just moved to 1B for the inning, missed the throw, allowing TJ Bohn to score the tying run. It was a ludicrous play, the perfect cap for a night in which McPherson had struck out 5 times, gotten thrown out, and gone 0-7. Fittingly, McPherson got one final at-bat in the top of the 8th and while I was teasing him for attempting to don the unheard-of Diamond Sombrero (6ks in one day), he took Aaron Looper deep to left-center. Ballgame.
Still, I got to watch an amazing pitching performance by Jered Weaver, a Rainiers win, an impressive display of wind-power from McPherson, a tying run score with 2 outs in the last inning on a come-backer... and do it all while chatting to Deanna and admiring my newly signed Nags 8x10. Nearly flawless (thank you Aaron 'nepotism' Looper).