What I call the "Dan Marino Rule" played out in last night's A's-Mariners game. This rule of thumb states that whenever a superhyped prospect gets matched up against a lesser-hyped player with a longer history of success, they lesser-hyped player will outperform the hyped player.
I call it that because it reminds me of Super Bowl XIX, where all we heard all week before the game was how great Dan Marino was. And yes, Dan Marino was a great player. But Joe Montana won.
So we got the stories about how the A's were afraid of facing Felix Hernandez in his first start of the year, and not a word about Joe Blanton. But Joe Blanton won.
Blanton and Justin Duchscherer combined to face only one batter over the minimum. Blanton had every pitch working, with great location. He went eight strong innings, giving up only a walk and two hits.
Hernandez only yielded two hits, as well, but the A's made him throw a lot more pitches in the process. Hernandez hit the 100 pitch mark after five innings, while Blanton threw 99 in eight.
Hernandez has nasty stuff, for sure, but perhaps making him throw a lot of pitches is the best approach against him. This article by David Appelman shows that Hernandez had the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone last year, and two of the players ahead of him (Al Leiter and Kirk Rueter) have retired. You may not beat Hernandez directly with such an approach, but you might be able to get him out of the game and beat a lesser pitcher. It worked last night.