A lot of times, coaches will say something to the effect of how they don't mind losses, so long as their team doesn't beat itself. Well the only team to beat theso far in 2011 is the Mariners in last Friday's intrasquad game, as a 5-4 win over the on Tuesday means the M's are still undefeated in Cactus League play.
The funny thing about this game is that it wasn't broadcast on TV and it wasn't broadcast on radio, meaning our only option for following along live was MLB Gameday. And when you're following along live on MLB Gameday, you can never be absolutely certain that the action taking place in the window describes the action taking place on the field, if there's action taking place on the field at all. For all we know the animated box score was that of an MLB.com stringer playing a video game in his office, although it would have to be an MLB.com stringer with a considerable imagination given some of the players that appeared. I have never in my life gone out of my way to play a video game in which I control either Nate Robertson or Brett Tomko.
Assuming that the information within the Gameday window wasn't completely made up, we can speak to a few things. The first - and maybe the most important nugget we can take out of the early spring action - is that Milton Bradley's dealing with an energy surplus. He stole two bases in the intrasquad game and stole another today, throwing in a pickoff for good measure. With a handful of hits and a handful of steals, Bradley seems determined to prove he's in playing shape as quickly as possible, which should make plenty of people both happy and concerned that he's trying too much too soon. Still, one gets the impression that Bradley needs to have a dynamite spring more than almost anyone else, so he's off on the right foot.
After Bradley, we've got Steve Baron of all people hitting a home run in the bottom of the eighth. It doesn't matter to me that this is Spring Training. It doesn't matter to me that he hit it off a guy I've never heard of. It doesn't matter to me that the balls in Arizona have been flying everywhere in the early going. Baron got a hard, inside high-90s fastball and turned on it, yanking it over the left field fence. I didn't know he had that kind of bat speed, or any bat speed. Maybe he isn't destined to be the worst hitter in the history of professional baseball after all.
Now to abandon the paragraph form and transition to bullet points for some reason:
- Good news: Royce Ring had a 1-2-3 sixth. Bad news: Royce Ring fell behind all three batters. In Spring Training, sometimes the macro results are of lesser significance than the micro ones, and nobody wants a reliever that doesn't throw strikes, even if he lucks his way into an out or three.
- Josh Lueke had an interesting fifth. He threw first-pitch strikes to all four batters, shaking of the rust he showed last Friday. And each time he got ahead 0-1, he threw a splitter, causing Brandon League's hat to fly up and hover over his head all cartoony-like. Lueke only threw ten pitches so we can't say much, but it's nice to see a pitch mix this early in camp.
- Adam Kennedy lifted a home run off lefty Matt Harrison in the second inning, which is notable given that Adam Kennedy only has eight career home runs against left-handed pitchers in nearly 1,200 trips to the plate. It's interesting how quickly Kennedy has gone from being another name on the NRI pile to a near roster shoo-in. Everybody's talking about him coming off the bench like it's practically a guarantee, and hitting home runs certainly won't hurt his case. Even if they are home runs off bad pitchers.
- I think my favorite kind of at bat in baseball is the strikeout where the batter stands in, takes three strikes, and walks away. Any time it happens you're left sitting there thinking "well that was pointless." The Mariners had three such at bats today, and two in one inning. Special kudos to Kennedy and Ryan Langerhans, who pulled it off on three fastballs.
Announcer 1: And on to pitch the seventh for the Rangers is the tall young righty Mark Hamburger.
Announcer 1: Despite his height, Hamburger doesn't go out there throwing cheese.
Announcer 1: He will mix in the occasional slider to keep batters off-balance.
Announcer 1: Without plus heat he'll need to pick his spots and keep from serving his pitches up on a platter.
Announcer 1: He did only allow four home runs in the minors last season, so he doesn't throw too many meatballs.
Announcer 1: As a kid in ST you really have to relish these opportunities to work the late innings.
Announcer 1: Hamburger's first pitch is - the heater catches the corner, although Gimenez seems to have a beef with that call.
Announcer 1: The 0-1 delivery on the wayyyyyy, and it's a seed over the outer half that's skied to right.
Announcer 1: Ordinarily Hamburger likes to keep things grounded but he'll take a lazy fly ball.
Announcer 1: Let us take a break for station identification.
Announcer 1: And here's Mangini, and the first pitch is a heater at the knees with some mustard on it for strike one.
Announcer 1: Now there's a grounder to first, and Hamburger sprints over to cover just ahead of the runner for the second out. Well done on that play.
Announcer 1: And a good flip from Christopher McGuinness, who's a tall drink of water.
It's probably a good thing this game wasn't on the radio.
The M's will face the Michael Pineda getting the start and opposing Aaron Heilman, who feels like Jody Gerut's stint in the organization lasted an eternity.tomorrow afternoon at the same time, with