Back in 2012, the Mariners and Yankees executed a trade that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to the Yankees for catcher and big bat Jesus Montero. The Yankees were in search of pitching at the time while the Mariners were in dire need of a bat and that is why this was supposedly a great trade for both sides. Pineda had just made the All Star game for Seattle while Montero was breaking out as a young star in this league.
Now, fast forward to 2015 and see where they are now. Pineda just outdueled Felix Hernandez and the Mariners en route to a 7-2 win in a game that the big Yankees righty struck out nine in six plus innings of work while giving up just two runs. The Tacoma Rainiers also lost to Round Rock Express 14-3 while Jesus Montero was 1-for-3.
Quite the difference in scenery.
After battling arm woes and pine tar suspensions and missing most of the past two seasons, Michael Pineda has quite nearly returned to what the Yankees were expecting from him when they traded their top prospect in Montero to get him. Monday night in Seattle was just the latest example of what Pineda is capable of doing on the hill as a top of the rotation pitcher at the big league level.
On the other hand, Jesus Montero for the Seattle organization (notice how I don’t even say Mariners) has been in one word, disastrous. In 2013, he really wasn’t anything special and then was suspended 50 games in the Biogenesis scandal. The 2014 season may have been worse as he came to Spring Training way over weight and out of shape and spent nearly the whole year in AAA before being suspended for charging a scout in the stands. Now in 2015, he has recommitted himself to baseball and could be at the big league level if someone were to get hurt, but, he’s in AAA while Pineda is out dueling Felix Hernandez, one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball.
No one was really doubting the trade when it happened even though Pineda had just made the All-Star Game as a rookie because Seattle needed offense and had the “Big 3” of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Danny Hultzen supposedly about a year or two out from being in the big leagues. Well, that time is here with Hultzen not being close to the big leagues because of injuries, Paxton landing on the DL again, and Walker trying to find his groove at the major league level. Nothing is a given when it comes to predicting the future and this is just the latest example.
When the pitching matchup of Felix Hernandez vs. Michael Pineda came out a week or so ago, everyone was thinking what a great pitching matchup this was going to be. The storylines were there pitting a former Mariner against the Mariners’ best pitcher. Pineda held his part of the bargain Monday while Felix was about as bad as he can get. The big Yankees starter showed Seattle fans what they are missing with him now in New York and it’s not like Montero can answer back because he isn’t even on the team.
Hernandez was perfect through three innings last night, and it looked as if he was going to be unhittable. Then, the fourth and fifth came around and it all fell apart. After a two-run fourth and a sac fly in the fifth, the bases were loaded for Mark Teixeira who hit a grand slam and his ninth home run off of Felix to put the Yankees ahead 7-0.
It was a shock to everyone associated with the Mariners because this type of thing just never seems to happen to Hernandez and this was just the wrong night for it to happen with Pineda, the former All-Star while in Seattle, opposite him on the mound. Pineda and Hernandez were quite the duo together for the Mariners in 2012, but now they sure have different routes leading back to Monday’s ballgame at Safeco Field.
It’s not as if Felix is going down hill because this game could have been just a fluke for him and I’m sure he’s gonna bounce back and return to the Felix Hernandez we all know and love in his next start. It was just interesting to see Pineda come back to Seattle with some battle scars attained in the long road back and see him out duel “The King” en route to a 7-2 Yankees win. He earned his seventh win of the season for New York and is one of, if not, the best pitcher in the Bronx Bombers’ rotation.