by Will Overton
When the Seattle Mariners explode for 21 runs in a game you know it’s an interesting night of baseball. We had the Mariners doing just that last night as well as several guys going deep multiple times and some strong pitching performances, one in particular from a very unexpected place. Let’s get to the big stories of the night:
- Francisco Liriano – Starting Pitcher – Minnesota Twins: After six starts in which he allowed at least four runs or more Liriano was moved to the bullpen. Things went a bit better for him there aside from getting rouged up in his last outing and the Twins decided to give him another shot at starting, more or less because they had no one else. Last night he took on Oakland and dominated for six innings of shutout ball and striking out nine hitters, walking just two. This was against Oakland so no one should be getting their hopes up too high. Control is still one of the big issues for Liriano and so seeing just two walks is a positive sign. In the bullpen Liriano walked seven in 7.1 IP, so I am now ready to go all in on him. Liriano’s next start is in Kansas City though and he could make a decent spot start play there. Just don’t let yourself get to crazy for Liriano, again, until he proves a bit more.
- Justin Smoak – First Base – Seattle Mariners: I still want to believe that Justin Smoak is not another case of an overhyped letdown, but his struggles have continued this season. On May 23rd Smoak was close to seeing his average drop below .200, but he’s turned things around a bit these last six games. Smoak was one of the many Mariners to explode last night as he hit 2 HR’s, scored 3 R and knocked in 6 RBI. In the last six games Smoak is 9 – 24 with 7 R, 4 HR and 12 RBI. Smoak seems to be getting something together, at least at the moment, and I think the potential makes Smoak someone to run with for the time being and see where he goes.
More Quick Thoughts
- After struggling through a 2 – 25 slump Freddie Freeman missed four games for vision problems. Freeman returned last night with a new pair of sports goggles and he went 3 – 5 with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI. If this really was the reason for Freeman’s recent struggles than you should expect to see that turn around quickly. Freeman is better than the .257 average he has right now.
- The Pirates newest reclamation project, A.J. Burnett, didn’t have the strikeouts last night, but was dominant again. This time he stifled a strong offense in Cincinnati giving up just two hits and one unearned run over 7 IP. Take out that one 12 run beatdown from earlier this season and Burnett has allowed just 8 ER in 47.1 IP. It’s clear that the National League is where Burnett belongs and while I don’t expect a sub 3.00 ERA I am buying Burnett in all leagues.
- He’s not available to be picked up, but you might still be able to make a decent buy low trade for Jimmy Rollins. Last night he was 3 – 5 with both a HR and a SB, and he is now 7 for his last 19. The power is fading for Rollins, but despite his numbers it’s not completely gone yet. I don’t expect Rollins to have a blowout second half, but I expect more than what we’ve already seen and I still think he’s still worth trying to grab on the cheap.
- How good is Carlos Gonzalez? Gonzalez wen t deep three times last night, his second multi-HR game in four games. Gonzalez is also 19 – 41 in his last ten games and not showing signs of slowing down. This guy is an elite talent.
- After allowing 10 runs in 10 innings over the last two starts it was nice to see Ian Kennedy settle in a bit and look good, even if it was just the Giants. Kennedy allowing one run in 7.2 IP with 5 H, 2 BB and 7 K. Control has not been the problem, but rather just being too hittable. No one expected Kennedy to be as good as last year, but he should be a lot better than he has been. I expect a nice little run here from Kennedy.
- Heath Bell did put two guys on base before closing the door, but he still got the save and didn’t allow a run. This is now 7 straight successful save opportunities and only three runs in his last 8.1 IP. Still don’t feel totally safe with him at closer, but he is getting things turned around it seems.