I won’t be doing these game reviews on a daily basis, but I will do them every week. But for Opening Day, I think it’s appropriate enough to do one from the get-go.
It wasn’t a great first day for the Mariners’ affiliates. In four games, they went 0-3, with Clinton’s game getting suspended after the third inning due to rain. While there were a few individuals that impressed, on a whole the games were pretty underwhelming for the system. Notes on the games after the jump:
Sacramento RiverCats (OAK) 6 Tacoma Rainiers 2
W: V. Chulk (1-0) L: L. French (0-1)
Notes: Luke French looked passably decent in the first inning, with decent command. He stayed right around the zone, but gave up two well-struck singles that would prove to be a harbinger of Bad Things To Come. Things went downhill fast for French starting in the second, as poor command and two throwing errors (including a Peguero throw to “second” that wound up sailing over third base) led to four Sacramento runs on a triple by Jemile Weeks. Weeks would score on the second throwing error when Sean Kazmar missed Alex Liddi entirely on his relay throw. French was bad enough during the game that I actually wrote the word “horribad” at one point in my notes.
On the batting side of things, Dustin Ackley drew two well-worked walks in his first two plate appearances, but went 0-2 with a strikeout afterwards. Greg Halman didn’t strike out tonight, but he was swinging early and often; he needs to keep working on his plate discipline if he’s going to progress as a hitter. Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero are in the same boat as Halman, only they struck out twice and once today, respectively. Josh Bard, who might get a call-up to Seattle tomorrow after Adam Moore’s knee injury, was one of just three Rainiers to scratch out a base hit against the RiverCats’ pitching staff.
Mississippi Braves (ATL) 9 Jackson Generals 6
W: R. Delgado (1-0) L: A. Vasquez (0-1)
Notes: Different city, eerily similar story. Anthony Vasquez struggled with his command (and if GameDay and the radio announcer could be believed, a very odd strike zone) and was lit up to the tune of four runs (three earned) over 4.1 shaky innings. Vasquez doesn’t have the greatest stuff and is a command-based pitch-to-contact guy, and he has a tendency to nibble around the zone. When his command is off, his pitches start drifting up and he can get hit hard, and that’s precisely what happened today.
Unlike Tacoma, Jackson managed to put together some offensive production. Nate Tenbrink had a great day at the plate, ripping a double and a triple, and making a great play at third that probably saved at least one run from scoring later in the inning. Rich Poythress had a good day in his first action above the California League, drawing three walks (including two against Randall Delgado, one of the top prospects in an impressive Braves system) and drilling an RBI double that left him standing at third after the throw home.
Lancaster JetHawks (HOU) 5 High Desert Mavericks 0
W: J. Cisnero (1-0) L: Y. Medina (0-1) S: W. Musik (1)
Notes: Yoervis Medina took the loss, but might have had the best day of the M’s starting pitchers that threw today. He left after the fifth inning with a solid overall line (5 H, 1 R, 4 K’s, 2 BB’s), and even better, he kept the ball on the ground, getting 6 outs via ground ball versus just two by fly ball. He did give up a double and a triple, but that will happen in the Cal League; the more Medina can keep the ball on the ground, the easier of a time he’ll having surviving in the pitcher’s hell that is the California League.
Unfortunately for Medina, his offense an bullpen let him down in a big way. Daniel Cooper relieved him in the sixth inning, and promptly gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning. The offense got skunked by Jose Cisnero and Wes Musick, managing just six hits off the pair, only one of which going for extra bases. Nick Franklin and James Jones in particular had rough days, both going 0-3 with a pair of strikeouts. Filed under the “things that are surprising” category, Denny Almonte actually drew a walk… but then balanced things back out by promptly getting caught stealing. Yeah, it was that kind of day.
Clinton LumberKings 4 Burlington Bees (OAK) 4
Top 4th, suspended due to rain
Notes: This was Forrest Snow’s first professional start, and while it started out poorly, he was settling in to a nice groove before an increasing downpour forced the umpires to stop the game. Snow’s command was shaky in the first inning, which saw him give up three runs (partly due to some creative outfield work in left by natural first baseman Mickey Wiswall) while running a nearly even ball/strike ratio. He settled down quickly after that, striking out the first two batters in the second inning, and one more in the third, giving him four on the day. Snow did give up another run in the third inning, but that was the direct result of a throwing error by 3B Ramon Morla hat would have been the third out.
At the plate, the LumberKings did a good job of getting to Seth Frankoff after he had an easy first inning, tagging him for two runs in each of the second and third innings, and really making him work to get out of each frame. 1B Tim Morris got things going, and quickly scored when RF Julio Morban ripped a triple. Morban struggled with his health in 2010, so it was good to see his legs healthy and motoring on the play. Marcus Littlewood plated him just a few pitches later, earning a hit and an RBI in his first pro at bat. Littlewood would get another hit in the next inning, but was denied a second RBI when Morris was thrown out at the plate.
Hopefully day two will prove to be a better one for the organization. In addition to the normal four games, the LumberKings will finish last night’s game before playing a seven-inning version of the scheduled game. Also, the Mariners’ Home Opener is tonight. I will be in attendance, and hope to see you there.