It seems like the Twins and Mariners have played each other a ton already this season. But we’ll give it another go this weekend, this time in Seattle. Let’s see what USS Mariner and Lookout Landing have to say one more time.
Yesterday was an off day for Seattle, and as it came almost exactly one third of the way through the season, it seemed like an ideal time to take stock of the team and the season. The Mariners are 26-28, in third place in the AL West (5.5 GB). Like any team, there are overachievers and underachievers. Minnesota will face two of the starting pitchers on the “likely to get worse” side of things, so hopefully regression is swift and severe for them. The next step after taking stock of the team is to survey the options for improving it. One of the biggest weaknesses has been the middle infield positions, and unfortunately for the Mariners, that deficiency runs pretty deep in their organization.
Everyone is talking about Ichiro, and with good reason. He comes into the series with a 27-game hitting streak. That streak recently broke the Seattle team record. (although, if his dog didn’t witness it, is it really that special?) Figuring out what sparked a streak like this is usually pretty difficult, although there are always plenty of theories. The Mariners have been trying to take advantage if it as best they can – they’ve recently juggled their lineup to put their hottest hitter, Russell Branyan, in the two spot (sound familiar?). Their hope is to get Ichiro off of the “most stranded” leaderboard.
Liriano v. F. Hernandez
As is specified in Rule 157(a), these two will meet again (for the third time this year). King Felix is the only right-handed pitcher in the Mariner rotation right now, which conventional wisdom would say is bad for the Twins lefty-dominated batting order.
Blackburn v. J. Washburn
Washburn is pitching well thus far, but that seems to be reliant on a reduced HR/FB rate and an unexplainable tendency to induce more swings and misses this year, again, regression is our friend.
Slowey v. E. Bedard
Bedard has stranded a lot of baserunners this year (c’mon regression!) but rather than write about him, I’ll point you in the direction of a discussion of one of the other pieces of the M’s/O’s trade that brought Bedard to Seattle. Compare Adam Jones and Franlin Gutierrez, Gutierrez wins the fielding argument, but there’s a pretty large gap in OPS in Jones’ favor. So who would you rather have?