Apr 14, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Roenis Elias (29) throws during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Seattle won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Globe Life Park hasn’t always been Globe Life Park, but it has always been some kind of a hitter’s paradise. If anyone should know that it’s the Texas Rangers, who have the honor and privilege of playing half their games there. But Monday night it was the Mariners who took full full advantage of the field, as they scored seven runs against a returning Colby Lewis and the Rangers. Texas’s still-heralded offense, on the other hand, flopped hard against Cuban rookie Roenis Elias, who dominated his way towards his first win as a big leaguer.
After the game, Lloyd McClendon dropped a quote that pretty quickly started getting national exposure. “He came off of a boat,” the skipper said of his young starter. “I don’t think facing Prince Fielder is really going to scare him that much.” In the first-ever matchup between Elias and Fielder, the jumbo first baseman stared at a one-and-two curve that dropped over the plate. His second time out he took the same pitch for a strike again before tapping it to first.
Elias has a nice curve, and it sure helped the perception that against even the biggest of bats, he was fearless. The quote also shines light on Fielder’s so-far ineptitude, as his two-for-four night (he eventually did get Elias for a double, then added a late single) raised his average with Texas all the way to .176. At 6-7, Rangers fans are a little antsy. Meanwhile, the M’s climbed to 7-5, and while that’s only a game and a half difference, it feels like more when the season is still so young.
Let’s look again at what we know about Roenis Elias. This was his third start. He lasted an out shy of seven frames and only allowed one run, an RBI single by starting third baseman (!!!) Kevin Kouzmanoff in the seventh with an out. Elias struck out five and walked two, giving him ten Ks and six walks in his major league career. Below average numbers, of course, though he has kept runs off the board with a tiny BABIP and a high strand rate. He’s looked good, but he’s probably not a 2.16 ERA pitcher. His 3.97 FIP looks more telling going forward, unless the strikeouts start showing up in droves. Last year in AA he was at 8.38 K/9, for what it’s worth, so who knows, maybe that will start to translate. Until then Elias is what he is – a perfectly acceptable fifth starter. And considering he skipped AAA, that’s kind of amazing.
So, seven runs! It’s not every day that the M’s score seven runs, so when they do, it’s a thrill. Mike Zunino got things started with a big home run off Lewis in the fifth. The other six runs came a frame later, starting with a leadoff single by the still-homerless Robinson Cano. Michael Saunders then hit a triple, followed by a hard-hit Kyle Seager single. Justin Smoak reached on an error and Dustin Ackley laced a nice single of his own that scored Seager. Zunino then delivered with an RBI single, and the game was starting to burst open. McClendon effectively scored the next run, as he successfully challenged that terrible catcher J.P. Arencibia dropped a ball at the plate. This allowed Brad Miller to reach and Ackley to score, and next up was Robinson Cano with an RBI sac fly. With a seven-run lead, the Mariners quieted down and held on for a nice win.
The fun in Texas continues tonight with the somehow-on-the-big-league-roster Blake Beavan and the who-even-is-this-dude Robert Ross. I’m just going to assume that Texas has the pitching edge because Beavan, but it’s not unreasonable to think that perhaps this game devolves into a two-sided slugfest. But that’s speculation, and at 5:05 we can find out for ourselves what this game is going to be like. Blake! Beavan! How! Exciting!