Hultzen had a lot of fastball command problems in the first at-bat. For most of the night, his velocity was at 89-91 MPH touching 92 MPH. The first at-bat lasted 9 pitches before he spiked a breaking pitch in the dirt for a leadoff walk. A wild fastball was then dropped by Guillermo Quiroz and allowed the runner to advance to 2nd. He calmed down after this and got a weak pop-up on a slider, a whiff on the fastball (followed by a foul back of the fastball) and a changeup for a swinging strike 3. That sequence to right-handed hitter Andrew Brown was about as good as Hultzen (or really any pitcher) can possibly be. A weak grounder and bad defense by Alex Liddi lead to a first inning run. Trayvon Robinson showed off some good defense to get Hultzen out of the inning. Hultzen’s change looked really good, basically neutralizing right handed hitters. Despite the decreased velocity of his fastball, he was still getting whiffs when he controlled it, especially at the top of the zone. He lead off the 2nd by getting whiffs on both his change and fastball for a strikeout. He then got a strikeout on what looked like his slider. He was throwing a lot of strikes and got ahead 0-2 to 3 straight hitters, but then gave up a homer. The 3rd contained a couple weak hits but had control of his pitches and was getting ahead of hitters. He got out of the inning by getting a whiff on a good changeup in the zone. In the 4th, he started off by getting behind 2-0, getting a foul back on a high fastball, and then giving up a hit up the middle on an identical fastball. While his fastball command was definitely better, the decreased velocity is sort of concerning. Most likely, he was just taking something off the fastball in order to control it better. Even with his good breaking pitches, there is a big difference in 89-91 MPH and 93-94 MPH. 7 of the 10 qualified pitchers in the Majors that average 93-94 MPH on their fastball have a better than average FIP -, while less than half of the pitchers that average 89-90 MPH on their fastballs are average pitchers or better. Hultzen then threw a wild pitch than advanced the runner to 2nd but struck out the next hitter with a good breaking pitch. After an infield hit, he walked the next hitter on 4 pitches to load the bases. Hultzen got out of it by getting a fly-out to CF. He started the 5th by getting a quick fly-out and then a ground-ball on a good slider. However, Luis Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and it turned into a double. He struck out the next batter on an inside fastball on a 3-2 count after setting the hitter up on breaking pitches. He would walk the next hitter, missing on fastballs but then got a strikeout on breaking stuff (thanks to a great catch by Rodriguez on a throw from Quiroz, as the ball bounced).
Hector Noesi made his first AAA start of the year on Saturday night.
Noesi started with 93 MPH and got a weak grounder on a slider that turned into an infield hit to Nick Franklin. He got a whiff on a high fastball to the next hitter and then a whiff on a changeup for a strikeout (only to watch the runner advance to 3rd on a steal and error by Quiroz). A grounder that got through the infield put Tacoma down 1-0. After getting a weak pop up to Vinnie Catricala at 1st base on a fastball down the middle, he got a weak ground-ball to 3rd to end the inning. He walked the lead-off hitter in the 2nd on all fastballs and then walked another when he threw a 3-2 fastball low (a weak throw by Quiroz lead to another steal). After getting up 0-2 to the next hitter, Noesi threw a fastball down the middle. Luckily for him (in light of his 0-2 woes), it turned into a fly-out. After getting behind 3-0 (then 3-1), Noesi threw his fastball down the middle for a 3 run homer from the lead-off man (who hadn’t homered all year in over 200 at-bats). In the 3rd, a slider that hung turned into a double when Trayvon Robinson nearly made a great diving catch but missed it. Another ball dropped just on the line in right field to put runners on the corner. With 1 out, he had some problems putting away a hitter in a full count but got an infield fly-ball for out 2. His slider was definitely the best pitch Noesi had that night when he kept it down, but he walked yet another batter to load the bases in the 3rd. A fastball up and in to the 9 hitter was lined hard and turned into 2 runs and a slider to start the 4th was hung for a lead-off single. A fastball in the inside part of the plate looked like it would be a homer but broke foul. Noesi would end up walking the batter and then give up a deep fly-out to center. A wild pitch would be the 7th run allowed by Noesi, followed by his 5th walk, ending his outing.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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