The Rainiers welcomed back two familiar faces today - Cha Seung Baek and Wladimir Balentien.
Baek got the start, and gave up a run in the first on a ground ball single to right. Balentien had a very good shot to get Brady Clark at the plate, but his throw...um, sucked. Hey, he's rusty. In the second, Wlad made amends - he tied it up with a ground ball fielder's choice to score Bryan LaHair.
B aek ran into some trouble in the 5th, loading the bases on a double, a walk and a texas league single to right. At only 59 pitches, the R's pulled the plug. I didn't check the radar, so I think the most likely explanation is that Baek was on a pitch count - he ended one shy of 60. Coming in with one out and the bases loaded.... John Parrish! You never really get rid of pitchers like Parrish, you only hope to contain them somewhere in your minor league system. Despite a severe command problem, Parrish came on with no place to put Paul MacAnulty. MacAnulty apparently felt charitable and swung at a 3-2 pitch around eyebrow level for the second out. The next hitter, Jack Cassel, lined a pitch that LaHair snagged at first (and hey, as much crap as LaHair takes from the big M's 'spect watchers, let me just say this: he's a good defensive first baseman). Nice work, Parrish!
Parrish gave up a run in the 6th on a double, a single, a sac fly, two walks and a groundout. There's the John Parrish M's fans have come to expect.
Brad Thomas came on in the 7th and was absolutely lights out through the rest of the game. In his 3 innings, he gave up 1 hit, 1 walk and struck out 2, including one of the top hitters in the PCL, Brian Myrow.
Balentied finished 1-3 with a walk, a single and an RBI.
Baek went 4 1/3, giving up 5h 1R 1BB 1K. Parrish got the win and Thomas the 3 inning save.
* Robert Rohrbaugh continues to impress, throwing 7 innings of 1R ball this week. His own error scored a run, preventing him from matching Jorge Campillo's 7 shutout innings against Sacramento.
* Speaking of Campillo, the scouting reports are right: His fastball really is only 84-86 MPH. Score one for Dave Cameron, who's been suspicious of a righty who throws mid 80s, tops. Fair enough. His command is impeccable, and he's going to get a call up this September. But he's probably not a long term bet to replace HoRam. Rohrbaugh...well, we'll see. Rob's FB is a bit better, and he's a lefty. His approach seemed to be Washburn-esque this week - throwing well located fastball after well-located fastball, keeping a very good River Cats team off balance. That approach may prove disastrous in the bigs, but who knows. Washburn's approach, on paper, should be disastrous too.
* With Balentien back, and Charlton Jimerson raking, the R's again have a legitimately good AAA outfield. Jeremy Reed is still hitting too - he's at .321/.387/.464 on the month. Good, but not as good as...
* Nick "Freakin'" Green, who's hitting .341/.406/.560 for August. Green went 2-4 with yet another homer tonight. Green was brought up in an LL thread, with a number of people thinking that his hot streak might prove valuable for the M's, esp. given Jose Lopez's struggles. I've consistently said that he's roster-filler, a minor leaguer who had a sub .300 OBP in the Pittsburgh system this year, and a guy who really crapped the bed in his one MLB starting opportunity with Tampa Bay a few years ago. But man, this streak is something else. I'm down with BABIP theory as much as anyone, but holy balls is this guy hitting the ball hard every time. Given the recent USSM discussion on hot streaks, my intellectual side thinks it's silly to expect anything other than his career marks going forward (and those career averages are fairly nasty). But man is it cool to see him come up to bat these days.
* Mike Morse hopefully broke out of a mini-slump (.195 ave. in the past 10 games) with a double down the LF line tonight. He's still a fairly good option as a bench bat for an MLB team, though with Bloomquist's career year, it's pretty clear that opportunity's going to come somewhere else.
* Dave Cameron's got a post up
advocating that the M's sign ex-Rainier Brett Tomko, who was DFA'd by the Dodgers. I don't mind the move, but more as insurance in case Baek's return hits a snag. Cameron thinks Tomko is head and shoulders better than Baek, I think the opposite. What do you think? xFIP's with me, the radar guns/scouting reports are with Cameron. This may depend on how you approach a question like this. If you need an out pitch, Baek will not impress you. If you rely heavily on results (or command), then Baek's a better bet. An interesting question, and one with no wrong answer other than 'Horacio Ramirez.'
* Sean White is still technically rehabbing in Tacoma, but I think at this point it's safe to say that whatever 'velocity spike' in the Arizona Fall League led the M's to pick this guy never made it out of Peoria. White's been between 89-92 with his FB in Tacoma, far below his reported 96+ in the fall. He never came close to that with the M's, at least not that I remember. He's an intriguing pitcher, in that he gets a ton of ground balls. But he's just not the guy the front office hyped when they made the trade/rule 5 selection to get him.
M's win again. Unbelievable. This is one of the strangest good teams in recent memory. On the plus side, they're obviously better than the '05 White Sox and '06 Cardinals. On the down side... what? Vidro/Weaver/Batista are key newcomers? Despite three incoming rotation members having lower ERA+ marks than the 3 guys they replaced (who most people thought were terrible). The DH has a Tyner-esque ISO. Felix has been very good, but both injured and also not what we expected after his blazing start. Yes, the bullpen has been almost as good as the White Sox magic-in-a-bullpen crew (Neal Cotts? Cliff Pollitte? Really?), but the offense has carried the team in August. I... I give up trying to figure it out, I'm just enjoying it.