All Billy wanted was a Mariners victory. His dying wish was to see this afternoon's charity game conclude with a smile on Eric Wedge's face. The dastardly Padres wouldn't cooperate, though, and with the help of NL West secret operatives Denny Bautista and Justin Miller, they pushed the M's all the way to the brink of defeat in an otherwise meaningless exhibition. It required the last-minute heroics of Carlos Peguero for the M's to stave off a loss, and it further required the literal last-minute heroics of Josh Bard to stave off a dreadful tie. The Padres tried to send a message, but ultimately, it was the Mariners who proved you can only keep love down for so long. In the end, love wins every time. Love and the Mariners. Billy isn't with us anymore, but he died doing what he loved - watching the Mariners knock the Padres' teeth out. Suck it, dorks.
If there was a big story to come out of this game - and there wasn't - it was Erik Bedard's inning of work. It's almost humiliating to spend too much time talking about it, since Bedard only threw nine pitches before removed, but at least they were nine good pitches. Bedard threw eight strikes, and he mixed in three curveballs. His velocity was good, his command was good, and he struck out two guys. He's happy, and everybody with the team is happy. No, it doesn't mean much, but at least nothing went wrong. It was the right way for him to start off his spring.
After Bedard, the pitching got much much worse. Most notably, Manny Delcarmen's velocity was down, and Denny Bautista loaded the bases and allowed a grand slam before recording his first out. Bautista, Justin Miller, and Cesar Jimenez all allowed home runs, two of which were hit by players I've never heard of before. But this was the first game of camp, and in camp, it isn't about how you start, but how you finish. The real evaluation process won't begin in earnest until the final few weeks.
Peguero had himself an eye-opening day. With one on and two down in the bottom of the ninth of a 12-10 game, he got ahead in the count against Brad Brach and punished a 1-0 fastball over the right field fence for a game-tying dinger. In the next half-inning, the Padres had a man on second and two out when Aaron Cunningham hit a line drive single to Peguero in left, but Peguero was able to come up with a strong throw to gun down Mike Baxter at the plate. So in the span of a few minutes, Peguero saved the game twice. That'll get him some attention. He's not a top prospect and his skillset is limited, but as one of the most powerful players in camp, he could at least have an exciting month.
The game was concluded in the bottom of the tenth. This game was ever only going to go ten innings, regardless of the score, and the first two Mariners actually struck out. Then Mike Wilson walked, and Mike Carp grounded a single, and Dustin Ackley walked to load the bases. Josh Bard stood in against Samuel Deduno and worked a full count before lining a hanging slider into right to win it. Obviously it doesn't mean much, if it means anything, but it was nevertheless a hell of a lot of fun to listen to on the radio. You always want your side to win, no matter how meaningless the competition, and walk-off wins are the best wins in baseball, so that was a perfect way to end the Cactus League opener.
The two teams combined to go 16-32 with runners in scoring position, by the way. The Mariners scored 13 runs after scoring a total of 12 runs in their final five games of the 2010 season. The Padres scored 12 runs after scoring a total of 13 runs in their final five games of the 2010 season.
Back to work again tomorrow at 12:05pm Pacific. This one'll also be against the Padres, with Doug Fister opposing Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc, you'll remember, was the Padres' starter in that 15-8 game last May, and that was with last season's Mariner offense, so tomorrow should be pretty embarrassing for him.