Thanks, Brandon! Thanks for bringing some excitement back into Marinerville tonight. Seriously, thanks a ton!
While it would've been the most incredible pitching accomplishment I've seen in a long, long time had Morrow completed the no-hitter, I'm actually almost equally happy with the fact that he didn't get it. See, it gives us a lot to talk about. Lots to say "What if?" to.
Isn't that one of the more entertaining things about sports in general anyway? I mean, if you're given the carrot all the time, it's not quite as fun, and the carrot starts to taste like crap. You gotta keep things exciting by dangling that carrot just out of reach most of the time...
What if, though...
What if Brandon had gotten that third out. With a pitch count preference of 90-95 for Brandon established by the coaching staff before the game, would they have let him go out there after having thrown 106 through 8? In the post game show, Riggleman hinted that he might've. I wouldn't've disagreed with that decision. While Morrow was starting to show signs of tiring, he still was doing a pretty good job of keeping his form. He seemed to be mostly in a good pace, and might've been able to benefit from a few moments of rest between innings to gather the adrenaline to start the 9th. I would've had Putz warming up and ready to go, and given Morrow a "Go get 'em" kick in the ass to start the ninth. It's the end of the season, and it's not like you're counting on him to carry you into the playoffs. While he may not have been ready and stretched out enough to go further, it's not like he's pitched a lot of innings this year either. When a guy's throwing like that all game, still showing his velocity, and in that big of a zone, sometimes it's OK to throw caution to the wind.
What if, too, they would've moved him down to Tacoma to begin his tutelage and preparation for becoming a starter a few weeks earlier? Yeah, there's a risk that he could've been more fatigued coming into this start. But there's also the possibility he's built up his conditioning even more, and when combined with the adrenaline rush of making his MLB starting debut, he cruises easier through the 8th, and has the stamina to stay in that zone that he was in pretty much all night.
There are probably a lot more "What ifs" that could be discussed, too. But for tonight, Brandon won me back as a fan. He showed that there's some definite promise for the future. You know what I'd like to see tomorrow? Ryan "Hyphen" Rowland-Smith going out there and not necessarily trying to 1-up Brandon (it'd be nearly impossible for him to do so), but making a statement in his own right. I suspect with Hyphen's ultra-competitive spirit, he's probably itching to take the mound after Brandon's performance. He doesn't quite have the stuff that Morrow has, but he almost makes up for it with his bull-doggedness.
When we ask "What if..." we tend to look at the past. Certainly, though, the M's have some bright spots moving into the future. It looks as though Brandon Morrow is one of them. I'm REALLY glad they made the decision to move him into the rotation.
The only regret they might have would be that they didn't do it sooner.