August 31, 2005

LUCKY STRIKES:

A Duel at Safeco Field: It's Randy Johnson vs. Felix Hernandez! (Mike Henderson, 8/31/05, Seattle Weekly))

Let's say we told you that this week Safeco Field featured the four greatest pitchers in Seattle Mariners history. Your obvious response: "Didn't know Gaylord Perry was back in baseball." OK, so make it four of the best five:

• Jamie Moyer, the team's all-time wins leader, who helped make the league-best Chicago White Sox look, for one game anyway, like the Sheboygan Sad Sacks, baffling the South Siders 9-2 on Sunday, Aug. 28.

• White Sox right-hander Freddy Garcia, former M's staff ace and all-star, who that same day seemed to have added a pitch to his repertoire, something low and outside and often consistent with the technical term "wild pitch."

• Randy Johnson, who left the M's in 1998 and is certain to enter the Hall of Fame (probably as an Arizona Diamondback) and was to return Wednesday, Aug. 31, to lead the New York Yankees in the marquee Safeco game of the past three seasons.

• And Felix Hernandez, whose epic, 36-inning big-league career already has some comparing the 19-year-old Venezuelan right-hander with ghosts of Cooperstown. Hernandez's Wednesday start is half of what makes that Yankees game marquee. Team officials, fans, and scribes have saddled the strikeout artist with rainbow-high hopes and expectations. And if he doesn't pan out, hey, we've still got Ryan Franklin.

But "panning out" is scarcely in question. I already see in the poorly nicknamed King Felix (I prefer "Felix Navidad," because he brought an early Christmas to this pitching-poor franchise) signs of a dominating starter.


This was a case where they did neither him nor the franchise any favors by leaving him at AAA for half a year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2005 4:38 PM
Comments

I can't tell you how distressed I am to be missing this game...

Though I disagree with you on AAA--he had some control issues he needed to work out down there, and he clearly did. Should he have come up a bit earlier? Perhaps. But it was good for him to get a bit more experience first.

Posted by: Timothy at August 31, 2005 4:54 PM

Timothy:

There's no better park for confidently throwing strikes than Seattle's. Easy enough to tweak your rotation to keep him from starting against the Red Sox, Yankees or in Colorado or wherever while he learns.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2005 5:00 PM

OJ: SEE!? Here's ANOTHER reason more gas taxes are a horrible idea: it's a 4-hour drive (if you judiciously exceed the speed limit the whole way and, of course, burn more gas doing so) to get to Safeco from here.

Timothy: I feel you, brother.

Posted by: John Resnick at August 31, 2005 5:07 PM

John:

Five people in the car? it's worth it.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2005 5:12 PM

Espn is showing the game tonight on one of their alternate channels -- 211 -- for you Directv customers.

The national game is the Angels/A's.

Good night of baseball for those able and willing to stay up late.

Speaking of the M's, the only question at this point is whether OJ's prediction about Senator McCain and the Republican nomination, will fall as flat as his prediction that Ichiro would hit .400 this season.

Posted by: at August 31, 2005 5:14 PM

OJ: Now you're talking. The Minivan seats 7. You coming?

Posted by: John Resnick at August 31, 2005 5:17 PM

Which is what's happened. His five starts have been against what are AAAA teams in terms of batting. So by now he's used to the idea of big crowds hanging on his every pitch, and tonight, as the last two games against the Damnyankees have shown, will be his real introduction to big-league hitters.

(As for Freddy, like so many Mariner pitchers, he always has had a tendency to self-destruct when something goes wrong, especially an error by the infield. Which is what makes that losing 1 hitter the other week even more amazing, as he didn't even give up another hit.)

One suggestion has been that next year the Mariners not have a real rotation, but just schedule Moyer to pitch every game that starts a homestand, and then four or five nights later if they are still at home. He could could push 20 wins that way even with the Mariners own AAAA hitters.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 31, 2005 5:17 PM

John:

When they play the Fisher Cats.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2005 5:41 PM

The way the M's have burned through promising young pitchers' arms like joints at Hempfest, I am now a strong subscriber to the "better ridiculously, pointlessly safe than sorry."

Posted by: Timothy at August 31, 2005 6:13 PM

Great pitching duel. RJ flirts with a no-no, and the kid looked pretty good. Wicked curve. Reminded me of Pedro. Maybe it's the pudgy face.

The Yanks managed to put the ball in play off of him, and worked a few walks. When's he eligible for free agency again? It's only a matter of time before George buys him for us. I'm thinking in five years or so we'll have him and Mark Prior.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 1, 2005 1:09 AM
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