1) Hunter Brown is really tearing it up down in Tacoma. I know that when I last went to a Rainiers game, on May 6, he was hitting .148/.246/.185. Well, a month later, it's June 9th, and he's hitting .266/.351/.409. Dave Cameron took him off the Future Forty with the excuse "Can't hit AAA pitching", but I think the guy's done something to correct that. Not that we need a new 2nd or 3rd baseman on the Mariners right this minute, but I think it's great that he's improving, you know? I'm heading down to the Rainiers game tomorrow, though, and looking forward to it.
2) Speaking of Tacoma, today's game featured Felix Hernandez pitching against Ryan Rupe. You know what the weird thing is? I remember the last time I saw Ryan Rupe pitch. It wasn't in Tampa, or Tacoma, or anywhere over here -- it was actually outside Tokyo at the April 6, 2004 game at Chiba Stadium. He was pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters as they played against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Really! I took a picture of the lineups on the board before the game started..
See, there he is, I even pointed it out if you can't read katakana. Also notable in this lineup is Matt Franco as the leadoff third baseman for the Marines, Benny Agbayani as their left fielder, and Angel Echevarria as the Fighters' DH.
(It was a good game. The Fighters won 4-1 and I screamed my lungs out in the left field bleachers along with the rest of the F's oendan.)
3) Speaking of Japan, I've been watching the Lions-Swallows games this week, and I'm stymied by Daisuke Matsuzaka. He's looking so good out there, yet everyone sees the wrong numbers and thinks he's looking bad. I mean, take a look at his stats for this year.
(from Yahoo!スポーツ プロ野球)
He's pitched 9 complete games, started 12. Won 4, lost 7. 97 innings pitched, 391 batters faced, 72 hits, 3 home runs, 106 strikeouts, 25 walks, 4 hit batters, 29 runs, 23 earned runs, for a 2.13 ERA. That's also a 4.24 K/BB ratio and a 1.0 WHIP, if you're counting, and a 9.8 K/9, as well as only giving up a home run every 33 innings or so.
The 4-7 record is retarded for someone who's that good. He doesn't give up home runs and he strikes people out like mad. Let's see the games he's been in...
June 7: gave up 5 earned runs, Lions lost 3-7.
May 31: gave up 2 earned runs, Lions lost 1-2.
May 25: gave up 1 earned run, Lions won 4-1.
May 18: gave up 2 earned runs, Lions lost 2-3.
May 11: pitched a complete game shutout, Lions won 4-0.
May 5: gave up 1 earned run, Lions win 10-1.
Hmm... I can't seem to find box scores for earlier games, dammit. But:
Apr 29: Looks like Matsuzaka got the loss, 4-6, but there were several errors.
Apr 22: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 0-2.
Apr 15: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 1-2.
Apr 8: Matsuzaka gets the win, Lions win 8-2.
Apr 2: Matsuzaka gets the loss, Lions lose 3-5.
Mar 26, opening day: he pitches 7 scoreless innings but doesn't get the win.
Now, wait. Look at some of these losses... aside from this last game where he gave up 5 earned runs, I swear he rarely gives up more than 2 runs if that, but the Lions just aren't giving him run support.
The reason I was looking at all this is that I was trying to figure out how Fumiya Nishiguchi had an 8-3 record when Matsuzaka had a 4-7 record. Nishiguchi is a decent pitcher, but he's not a better pitcher than Matsuzaka by any means. His numbers:
He's pitched 1 complete game, started 11. Won 8, lost 3. 73.1 innings pitched, 303 batters faced, 64 hits, 8 home runs, 63 strikeouts, 18 walks, 5 hit batters, 26 runs, 24 earned runs for an ERA of 2.94. And still an awesome 3.5 K/BB rate, and a 1.12 WHIP. But it's also a home run once per 9 innings, and a K/9 of 7.7.
Now, this isn't awful by any means, it's still good pitching. Infact, if most of our Mariners pitchers were putting up these numbers I'd be overjoyed. But the main difference is the games he's been in. Yesterday's game he won 4-1. On 6/3 he won 6-5 (though he only gave up one run). On 5/27 he lost because the Lions were shut out, 0-4. On 5/20 he won by one run, 3-2, him giving up the 2. On 5/13 he won 6-1. On 5/6 he won 13-4, him giving up the 4.
If the Lions had managed to score as many runs in Matsuzaka's starts as they did in Nishiguchi's and vice versa, Matsuzaka would be like 9-2, and Nishiguchi would be like 5-6.
My brain hurts from trying to read enough Japanese to dig up box scores, so I'm signing off. Still. I'm just weirded out seeing articles saying "Matsuzaka seems to be having an off year with his lousy win-loss record".