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Game 6: Mariners at Twins

Ichiro practices in his shorts when it's snowing. You probably shouldn't wear shorts to this game.

Name a more familiar batting stance this century. Go ahead. We'll wait.
Name a more familiar batting stance this century. Go ahead. We'll wait.
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Time: 3:10 Central. Vegas Line: SEA -115/+105 MIN
Weather: Cloudy, Chance Of Sleet, Start Temp 38°
Opponent's Nice SB Site: Lookout Landing
TV: FSN. Radio: Move antenna around when static-y

During the first World Baseball Classic, in 2009, Ichiro Suzuki approached Tommy Lasorda, pointed at his non-SlimFast gut, and asked "how many months?" Not getting the joke and thinking Ichiro was crossing up his English time-passage nouns, Lasorda responded, "I'm 83 years old."

Ichiro learned some Spanish so he could trash-talk Latin players, once causing Carlos Pena to almost lose it laughing. Ichiro said he intends his jibes respectfully: "We're all foreigners in a strange land. We've come over here and had to cope with some of the same trials and tribulations. When I throw a little Spanish out at them, they really seem to appreciate it and it seems to strengthen that bond."

And that's what makes Ichiro so priceless, right there. He is deadly serious about certain things (his privacy, his Japanese heritage, playing baseball) and joyously goofy about other things (like playing baseball -- sometimes.)

(Ichiro was kidding around with Lasorda, but he internalized stress over Japan winning the inaugural WBC so much, he got DLed to start that MLB season. With bleeding stomach ulcers. And Japan did win.)

In March, Wright Thompson posted an extensive profile of Ichiro's serious side. Definitely worth a read. It's about the pressure Ichiro puts on himself to maintain excellence, and the pressure his father applied when Ichiro was a boy. The two of them no longer speak to one another.

Thompson paints Ichiro as emotionally exhausted, desperate to find meaning in baseball he lacks in life. That seems a bit of a stretch to me. You can't boil down a complex personality to Hollywood storylines ("searching for people and stories to fill the place once occupied by his father.")

If we can't say exactly what drives Ichiro, we can say this: he's still the one who knows where the car’s going.

(I love the bullpen guys flinching here.)

Lefty James Paxton is the Mariners’ best pitcher, now that King Felix has entered his "crafty veteran" years. Paxton throws a killer moving fastball and quality curve; his problem has been staying healthy. Last year he pitched 136 innings, and that's the most he's ever racked up in MLB. Many of his injuries were freak things like torn nails and being hit by line drives.

So Paxton went to see a doctor, and was told he gets some mild muscle inflammation from dairy products. No more cow milk for him. Paxton says he doesn't mind ... but his wife is from Wisconsin! They live in Eau Claire. Maybe he can buy something that looks like cheese and eat it socially, so he isn’t forever Shunned.

Paxton got roughed up in his first start last week. Don't bet on it happening again. Digits (2017 season):


Interestingly (or not), Gibby’s BAbip was a full .100 higher than Jake Odorizzi last season. Unsurprisingly, Odo's FIP was 5.43. Aren't numbers nifty?

Today's Lineups

Dee Gordon - CF Brian Dozier - 2B
Jean Segura - SS Sexx Dragon - 1B
Robinson Cano - 2B Miguel Sano - 3B
Mitch Haniger - RF Robbie Grossman - DH
Kyle Seager - 3B Byron Buxton - CF
Daniel Vogelbach - DH Max von Kepler - RF
Ryon Healy - 1B Ryan LaMarre - LF
Ichiro Suzuki - LF Ehire Adrianza - SS
David Freitas - C Mitch Garver - C
James Paxton - LHP Kyle Gibson - RHP