Purgatory Online

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Well, there's just no avoiding it. In a few hours, I'm going to have to sit down - probably with my good friend, Jim Beam - and watch Ramon Ortiz pitch against Freddy Garcia.

You'll remember that Garcia more or less dominated the Angels for seven innings last week, holding the halos scoreless on four hits while striking out seven, and it was only by the grace of God and Bob Melvin's desire to keep Garcia's pitch count down that they finally got to go do that voodoo that they do so well in the ninth. Garcia has historically had the Angels all figured out - a 2.24 ERA in 17 career starts, and a 1.17 ERA against them in 2003 - though in fact Ortiz has actually been decent against the Mariners, too (3.39 ERA in 12 starts for his career, 4.01 ERA against them in 2003 - curiously, all four of his 2003 starts came against Jamie Moyer). Realistically, the Angels will be in good shape if they can keep this one close until the late innings. Seattle's bullpen has been notso-hotso so far, posting a 6.95 ERA in 22 innings of work. The guy we want to see in particular is Kevin Jarvis, who's appeared three times and put his first batter on base on each occasion. Everyone in the Seattle bullpen is probably available to work tonight, particularly Jarvis and Shigetoshi Hasegawa, neither of whom have pitched since Sunday (nor has Eddie Guardado, for that matter, but he's unlikely to be used except as a closer).

It's hard to know exactly how thin the ice under Ortiz is as far as Scioscia is concerned. It seems obvious to me that Ortiz, who's thirty years old and is in his sixth major league season, has a tendency to go to pieces on the mound that he's just not going to shake. But it seemed equally obvious to me that Sele had beaten him out for the fifth starter position in the spring, so Scioscia and Bud Black are obviously looking at a different data set than I am. Tonight, Ortiz will absolutely have to go after Ichiro and Winn at the top of the order, neither of whom have been especially successful against him the past, because Bret Boone just kills Ortiz, and Ortiz gives up a ton of home runs. If Ortiz can limit the damage by working to Boone with the bases empty, that'll go a long way towards keeping the Angels in this one. If he's erratic at the top of the lineup, though, me and Jim Beam are gonna get real cozy.