Eric Wedge had some pointed words after Thursday's loss, accusing his team of sloppy play. Looking to shape up, thewere actually in position to take advantage of sloppy play from their opponent on Friday, as they scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth after the ' infield botched a rundown and an inning-ending double play.
But I refer to that as the go-ahead run instead of the winning run because it wasn't the winning run, because the Diamondbacks scored the winning run in the ninth. Brandon League walked a guy, then Josh Wilson made a throwing error, then Brandon League kept struggling to throw strikes, and before long a 5-4 lead had turned into an 8-5 deficit. And then, for good measure, the M's blew an opportunity to get back into it in the bottom half when Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo both struck out with the bases loaded.
Sloppy play and missed opportunities. The Mariners' dreams of winning the Cactus League championship are fading by the day, and they have only themselves to blame.
- In good news, Jason Vargas looked just fine again, stretching out to five innings of work. He only threw four curveballs, and I have serious doubts that we're going to see much of that pitch during the season, but again, it isn't a pitch he necessarily needs. He didn't walk anybody, he missed a few bats, and though he allowed four hits and three runs in the fifth inning, all four of those hits came on fastballs that were right on the edge of the strike zone. That's a good place for him to keep his fastball, and if it gets hit, so be it. It'll work out more often than it won't.
So, no worries about Vargas coming out of this one, and his effort is just further evidence that he's ready for the regular season to start right now.
- Some worries about Brandon League. League threw 28 pitches, and only 12 of them were strikes. Worse, League threw 25 fastballs, and only 11 of them were strikes. So it's not like he was just missing with his slider or his splitter. He didn't have a lick of command of his fundamental pitch, and that led to him walking three guys and issuing a wild pitch in what was once a save situation.
It's League's worst game of the spring so far. One game, of course, won't be enough to demote him from being the interim closer, but this does open the door wider for the other contenders, namely Chris Ray and Josh Lueke. They can reduce the gap, and there's no reason to believe that League's just going to be handed the job automatically. He'll have to earn it, and his performance this afternoon set him back. That was an unwatchable inning.
- Aaron Laffey pitched the seventh inning. At one point, he threw an inside fastball that eluded Josh Bard and drilled home plate umpire Adrian Johnson directly on the right kneecap. Johnson grabbed at his knee, and then let go of his knee, and the game resumed play seconds later, with Aaron Laffey feeling really bad about his fastball.
- Miguel Montero was the Diamondbacks' catcher in the bottom of the ninth. At one point, with a runner on third, Kam Mickolio threw a pitch low and away in the dirt, and Montero acted as if the ball got to the backstop in an effort to deke the baserunner and make him run home. It didn't work, so nothing happened, but that struck me as being a remarkable heads-up play, and for Montero it was instinct. It's amazing how prepared these players can be, and how much conditioning they've undergone.
- Making an appearance for the Diamondbacks today was Ed Rogers. I don't expect many of you to know who Ed Rogers is, since he's a 32-year-old minor league journeyman with 29 big league at bats. But Ed Rogers was once a hot-shot prospect for the , back when the other hot-shot prospects for the Orioles were guys like Matt Riley and Rich Stahl. Sam Perlozzo once compared him to Alex Rodriguez, and he was supposed to be a franchise cornerstone to help the O's turn things around in a competitive division.
But Rogers never blossomed into anything, in no small part because in early 2002 it was revealed that he was three years older than everyone believed. Since flaming out he's made a living being really mediocre in AAA, and I honestly can't believe he's still around. Seeing Ed Rogers was every bit as mind-blowing as seeing Ryan Vogelsong the other week.
- The Mariners only wound up with five runs and seven hits, but early on we did see some good things from a few of the hitters. Daniel Hudson is a talented young starting pitcher. In the second, he threw a low, centered fastball that Luis Rodriguez ripped out of the ballpark to right. In the third, he threw a low, centered changeup that Milton Bradley ripped out of the ballpark to right. And in the next at bat, he threw a low, centered slider that Justin Smoak ripped out of the ballpark to right, only a few feet foul. Working low in the zone, the righty Hudson on three occasions got smashed by left-handed batters, and it's nice to see some M's take swings with that kind of power. Bradley's bomb in particular was impressive.
Rodriguez, by the way, was a really interesting pick-up before the Brendan Ryan trade. He doesn't have a spot on the team now, but he's hit some balls hard this spring, and he's flashed some excellent lateral range in the middle infield, albeit along with a pedestrian arm. I feel like he deserves an opportunity to be someone's utility guy. Certainly more than Josh Wilson does.