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Japan Series Recap

I like to write a game recap for the season opener. This isn't a blog that really does game-by-game analysis, but one game out of the year is fun. With a couple games (both in the wee hours of the morning), why not recap the "series" as a whole? Here are some unassorted bullet points, particularly if these games were just box scores for you:

  • King Felix was awesome. Enough said.
  • Ichiro's four-hit opener will go down as one of the most memorable moments of his career. Rising to the occasion on opening day, in Japan, was special. Truly great players have a knack for generating memorable moments in big spots. Ichiro is a truly great player.
  • I found it hilarious that Ichiro and Coco Crisp were the number three hitters in both games. Nine runs total were scored in both games combined. Woot. Woot.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is an exciting player. His best comp might be Vladimir Guerrero. Cespedes clubbed a double and home run, both on breaking balls. He's a free swinger, but he showed some plate coverage, and he fearlessly attacks all pitches he goes after...for better or worse. Vlad never really developed plate discipline, but it didn't matter with his freakish hitting ability. Cespedes could end up being the same way. Could.
  • Bartolo Colon looked pretty good, but the Mariners made him look amazing. His fastball had tremendous run away from lefties, and toward lefties. His change-up had good action too. However, both pithes tailed the same way. Colon did a great job locating his pitches early on, but the pitches were up in the zone more and more as he got tired. Unfortunately, too many Mariners kept pulling the ball, and rolling over. The best strategy would have been to wait on Colon's pitches, and shoot them the other way. That's what Smoak did with his home run, and Figgins did as well with a sharp liner snagged by Josh Donaldson.
  • To be honest, the Athletics looked like the better team in the series. Their hitting was better. The Mariners didn't have many hits, and of the few hits they got, too many of them were seeing-eye singles. Hopefully, this is just a case of a small sample size.
  • I was impressed with Jason Vargas. Tokyo Dome's dimensions aren't very friendly for Vargas's style. I thought he would give up some dingers. However, he didn't, and the way he attacked hitters was gutsy. He pitched inside throughout the night, and got away with it. Vargas shouldn't have the velocity to sneak fastballs past hitters, especially in hitter-friendly confines. He made it work in Japan though. In general, he did an excellent job mixing speeds and locations. Vargas was in midseason form.
  • Tom Wilhelmsen has nasty stuff, and didn't get eaten up by a tie game in extra innings on opening night. He needs to spot either his fastball or curve better to be effective against better offenses than Oakland's, but to borrow a favorite quote from J.J. Putz, he appears to have what it takes downstairs. Pair that with heat, and a biting curve, and there's potential.
  • Also checking in downstairs is Steve Delabar. He will get hit harder by better offenses too, but I really like how he responded after Jonny Gomes's home run. Kurt Suzuki went down swinging on only three pitches. Granted, I think Suzuki got caught guessing wrong, but the fact remains that Delabar continued to attack hitters, even after a bad home run. That's a good sign. Relievers have to have short memories to avoid implosions.
  • George Sherrill looked terrible. He had no control, and as a result got hammered. I hope he figures out the strike zone a little better in the near future, because I've always been a fan of his. Otherwise, I'd be tempted to let him go.
  • Cliff Pennington feels like he's going to be a Mariners killer this year. I don't have a good reason for this feeling, but I'm writing it down so that I can say I called it if/when he slays the M's this season.
  • I like Jemile Weeks quite a bit. His range impresses me at second base. His level stroke won't produce much power, but speed is his game anyway. I think Weeks's skillset translates very well at second base, and he will quietly assert himself as an above average second basemen in the American League this year.
That's enough points for a post. Back to spring training. It's weird to think that the season is two games old, yet the home opener is still two weeks away.