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Sunday, April 17, 2005
Weekend Musings

I haven't chimed in at all about the Mariners series. It was a beautiful weekend -- the best of the year -- there's no reason to be sitting inside at a computer.

* * * * *

Friday night, Jon Garland flirted with perfection, retiring the first 19 batters he faced before issuing a walk to former White Sox top prospect Jeremy Reed.

The most impressive thing I have noticed in Garland's two starts is how sparingly he is using his curveball. Two weeks ago, if you told me Garland hardly threw a curveball in two consecutive outings, I would have told you that he had gotten shelled. The curveball is the one pitch that, on the rare occasion that he can command it, elevates Garland from your typical league average starter up to bona fide front of the rotation pitcher. That he hasn't needed to use it much in his first two outings (both quality starts) bodes well for the rest of the season.

I can't be certain -- surely others have noticed this too -- but Garland appears to be getting more movement on his fastball/sinker. The movement isn't really a sharp downward turn, but rather a tailing motion, in on righties and away to lefties. He was busting righties inside with it early and often, frustrating 2004 NL HR champ Adrian Beltre in particular.

As I noted last weekend, he will be successful if he continues to pitch like that at the Cell. The increased movement may be just enough to actually get the GB/FB ratio you would expect out of a "sinkerballer." ** Take heed, small sample sizes ahead. ** Garland's GB/FB ratio is currently 1.85, with 24 GB to 13 FB. That doesn't include a few turf job infield singles that would have been groundball outs in all but 2 cement bowls masquerading as baseball stadiums.

* * * * *

Blogger Sucks -- They've implemented an auto save feature which simply saves the first 3K of my post, and deletes the rest of it. How the fuck is that useful to anyone? Mozilla was stable enough for me to not have to save every 10 minutes, or write in a separate text editor, and I could write for an hour, looking up different stats in multiple tabs and windows, without ever having to worry about a crash. Now, since they've implemented this wonderful new feature, I've lost three fricken posts.

* * * * *

I really want to rip Ozzie's bullpen usage on Friday. Had I written a post immediately following the game, it would have been an explicative laced tirade that questioned almost every move he mad during the game. Yesterday, I read this post by Vince over at Exile in Wrigleyville, and I softened a little.

If I was manager, I would have left Vizcaino in for at least one more batter. The tying run was still only in the on deck circle. I had hoped that Ozzie had learned from the finale of the opening series that he can't burn through his bullpen without consequences. Apparently he hasn't. Thankfully, Dustin Hermanson, the heir apparent to the closer's throne, was able to put out the fire that Ozzie was busy throwing gas on in the form of Damaso Marte and Shingo Takatsu.

* * * * *

I don't know if I can use enough superlatives to do justice to Mark Buehrle's performance in Saturday's lightning round of a baseball game. They say one of the best things about baseball is you never know what you might see when you go to the park. Well Saturday, if you blinked, you might have missed it. Buehrle teamed with Ryan Franklin in a pitcher's duel that lasted just 99 minutes including TV breaks. Subtract the 17 two minute and five second commercial breaks and the actually playing time checked in at just three and a half ticks over an hour. After the game, Ozzie called out the lack of recognition Buehrle receives compared to two oft-injured hurlers 8 miles north.

* * * * *

Sunday's game was maddening right from the start, with Ichiro! leading off with a his first HR of the season. Garcia put himself in an 2-0 hole, in what would become a recurring theme on the day. In his first two starts Garcia was able to settle down after looking shaky early on. The fifth inning proved to be Freddy's undoing. Having already allowed a run, Garcia sat with a tied score and two outs. Thanks to Jermaine Dye's lackadaisical play in the outfield, Garcia helped turn two innocuous singles into the two go-ahead runs for the M's as he let 4 straight reach base. It was exactly the type of outing that has pushed Jon Garland to the low man on the starter's totem pole.

* * * * *

How bad is Tim0! Perez that he makes me long for Scott Podsednik back in the leadoff spot?

* * * * *

Two weeks in, finds the Sox in first place
special thanks to rapid games from our ace
Twins comin' to town,
let's take 'em down
and run away with the division race.