Apologies for the late recap. All of these midweek 1:00 starts are taking their toll.
All spring long, the Mariners have drilled the ball. They comfortably lead the Cactus League with 54 homers, and they pace the majors with a .523 slugging percentage. They're second in runs, and are among the circuit-toppers in most other important statistical categories as well.
The M's have undoubtedly hit well, but they've still had their critics. Some have said that they play in a friendly ballpark. Others have whispered that they're teeing off on guys like Sugar Ray Marimon. People have doubted whether the Mariners could really continue to hit like one of the big boys against better competition and in a more neutral environment. The Mariners couldn't do anything about the environment today. Today's game was played in Peoria, and pretty much every spring training ballpark is a launching pad.
But they did have a chance to prove their mettle against better competition. Starting for the Dodgers was former National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, and pitching in relief was two-time All-Star Ted Lilly. There weren't any slouches on the mound today. Not until the sixth inning, at least.
The Mariners rose to the occasion and crushed both veteran lefties. Kershaw lasted only three innings and Lilly couldn't get out of the sixth.* After tagging Kershaw for three runs and a dinger, Lilly allowed seven more M's score, giving up six hits and three walks in the process. The M's got another homer from Michael Morse, a well-struck triple from Dustin Ackley, and just to prove that they have talent oozing from all levels of the system, a three-run double from Nate Tenbrink. A couple of Double-A relievers kept the M's quiet over the rest of the afternoon, but the damage was done, and Seattle won their last contest in Peoria 10-7.
*- We'll ignore that Kershaw and Lilly were removed for pitch count, not performance reasons.
- Felix Hernandez made his final start of the spring, and he was efficient enough, tossing six innings while striking out three. More importantly, he's healthy and ready to go for Opening Day next Monday.
- Jason Bay stole a base today. Interestingly, it was only Seattle's ninth of the spring, and they bring up the rear in that category. I doubt this means anything, Michael Saunders fantasy owners.
- Morse's homer today gives him eight this spring, tying him with Mike Wilson for the club's spring training record.
- Eric Wedge was tossed from the game, his first ejection of the spring. I don't really know how often managers get booted from a spring training game, but I'll go out on a safe looking branch and hazard a guess at 'not very.' Wedge got the hook after a quick argument with minor league umpire Seth Buckminster. Felix had taken issue with Buckminster's strike zone, and the ump stopped the game to have words with Hernandez. Wedge charged out of the dugout and was thrown out before he reached the plate. I have no idea if Buckminster has a reputation for hotheadedness or confrontations, but the whole thing looked pretty unprofessional, and credit to Wedge for making sure none of his players got tossed. As a bonus, the skipper got to take a victory lap in front of an appreciative crowd on his jog out to the right field clubhouse.