Safeco Field is a must-see ballpark for the diehard baseball fan. It’s just a nice, nice stadium, with terrific in-game production, the best National Anthems in the game, and a roof ensures every game will be played without delay.
But anyone who plans to come in April or early May needs to be forewarned: Pack your parka.
It’s cold here. Maybe it’s the dampness in the Seattle air combined with the wind that seemingly is always blowing in. The city is also north, so there’s that, too.
No, the press box isn’t a nice, cozy place. The windows are open, and there are no heaters. Even the local scribes complain about how cold it is, so it’s not just the warm-blooded Texicans. (For the record, I was born and raised in Colorado, and am still cold.)
How cold is it here? Just look at the Rangers’ offense the past two games. The hitters have been frozen at the plate.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Saturday’s 5-0 loss.
1. Hot baseball opinion: Andrew Cashner was just fine Saturday night, even though the his pitching line shows him allowing four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings.
Anyone who watched the sixth inning knows he didn’t get a lot of support.
Consecutive plays with one out gave Elvis Andrus fits. The first was a one-hop smash to his backhand deep in the hole between second and third that skipped off his glove an into left field for a hit.
Next up was Robinson Cano, who smoked a one-hopper at 105 mph to Andrus behind the bag at second. Andrus gloved it but had trouble on the flip to second for the force. That was the big one. E6.
Cashner walked Nelson Cruz to load the bases and then gave up a two-run single to the left-handed hitting Kyle Seager, the Rangers killer, even though left-hander Alex Claudio was warmed up.
Manager Jeff Banister said that he liked Cashner’s sinker there over Claudio’s frisbees.
“Even that wasn’t a well-hit ball,” Banister said.
Mike Hauschild then entered and surrendered a three-run homer to Taylor Motter. At 5-0 and with James Paxton putting the Rangers’ bats on ice, the game was effectively over.
Cashner, though, did just fine in his first start for the Rangers.
2. The Rangers came to Seattle on Friday with the league lead in home runs and runs. Then they ran into Felix Hernandez and Paxton, who did to the Rangers what the Rangers want to see their pitchers do.
The inside fastball was the key to the Rangers’ bats going into a deep freeze. There hasn’t been much solid contact in 18 innings, and the Hernandez and Paxton off-speed pitches have been made more effective with them first crowding Rangers hitters inside before working away.
The Rangers haven’t homered for consecutive games after opening the season with homers in nine straight. Seattle’s pitchers haven’t made mistakes with the fastball that Indians, A’s and Angels pitchers did.
These things happen, just like closers blowing saves, starters stinking it up and fielders fumbling the baseball. When there is no margin for error because the opposing starter is too good, those things that happen lead to losses.
When the opposing starter is as good as Hernandez and Paxton were the first two games of this series, that also leads to losses.
3. The move that sent Tanner Scheppers to Triple A Round Rock on outright assignment could signal the beginning of the end for him with the Rangers.
None of other 29 teams wanted to pick him and the rest of his salary up. It’s not a staggering salary at $975,000, but perhaps it is when attached to the injury risk Scheppers has become.
After finishing last season on a high note and pitching well this spring, Scheppers is now in Triple A for the foreseeable future. He is behind Keone Kela in the pecking order for right-handed relievers, and maybe he’s being A.J. Alvarez, Tyler Wagner and Allen Webster.
Complicating matters is the need for a 40-man spot. The Rangers just sent Scheppers out to create a 40-man opening, so it just seem remotely likely that they would just rush to give it back to him.
The fact is that Scheppers’ best season of 2013 was a long time ago. He’s been derailed by injuries and ineffectiveness, and now the Rangers appear to be moving on barring a rash of bullpen injuries or lousy outings.
Anything is possible, and Scheppers still has a big arm and good stuff. Seeing him back with the Rangers anytime soon, though, doesn’t seem possible.