I would've gotten to this earlier, but I was watching the Marlins host the Cardinals and I'm the world's worst multi-tasker. Literally the world's worst multi-tasker, including all prokaryotes and eukaryotes alive or dead. I'm a worse multi-tasker than an old box of raisins. Actually I guess an old box of raisins might be a good multi-tasker, in that it could conceivably do a lot of things at once without feeling overwhelmed. Let's hear it for the old box of raisins, cool and collected under pressure.
Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners played their final Cactus League game of the year, against the Colorado Rockies. The Mariners put themselves in a tough position by losing on Tuesday; they entered Wednesday a half-game back of the Oakland A's for first place, with one remaining game apiece. The Mariners could still win the Cactus League, but they didn't have control of their own destiny. They only had control of their game, and they'd need a favor from the San Francisco Giants.
The Mariners game and the A's game began more or less simultaneously this afternoon. And we all got to participate in a little unfamiliar scoreboard-watching. Unfortunately, what became apparent early in the proceedings was that the Giants weren't going to give the Mariners any help. The Giants took a quick 1-0 lead, but then that immediately turned into a 2-1 deficit. And then that immediately turned into a 6-1 deficit. The A's were ahead by five runs after two and a half innings, and by seven runs after four and a half innings. The Mariners had a pretty good idea not long after they started that they wouldn't be playing for anything, because the A's weren't going to lose.
It's disappointing, then, that the Mariners fell just short. One half-game. What if the Mariners hadn't lost on Tuesday? What if the Mariners hadn't lost on Sunday, March 11? You can't help but reflect on the missed opportunities. On the other hand, it's encouraging what the Mariners did on Wednesday, after they knew of their fate. After three innings, the A's were leading the Giants 6-1, and the Mariners and Rockies were scoreless. But then the Mariners valiantly picked up their play and scored seven runs in the next two frames. The Mariners didn't end up playing for a title, but they played for pride, and they earned it. The Mariners can leave Arizona with their heads held high.
As a matter of fact, the Mariners finished Cactus League play with a better run differential than the A's. So the Mariners win the Pythagorean Golden Saguaro. The Angels finished with an even better run differential than the Mariners did, but their winning percentage was worse so it doesn't go to them. I know it's convoluted but that's the way it works, the talking stick told me.
Good heavens, it's my last spring training game recap for almost a full year. Between now and then, there will be recaps of games that felt like they were spring training games, but they will not be spring training games. They will just be bad and boring games, probably against the A's or the Orioles. Whole lotta those coming up.
The man for the Mariners today was probably Hector Noesi, who allowed a run and zero walks over seven innings. He generated just three strikeouts and finished in Arizona with five strikeouts in 12 innings, but you have to figure that the strikeouts will probably come in time given the quality of Noesi's stuff. Not that he'll ever be Kerry Wood, but he should be more than Blake Beavan. Embrace this because there won't be more opportunities to casually dismiss spring training results for a while.
After Noesi, three relievers pitched two innings. I have heard of none of the four people that Lucas Luetge faced in the ninth. I've heard of somebody else named David Hernandez before. And I don't know Jose Rivera, but I do know Juan Rivera, who is another J. Rivera. So Luetge pitched to two complete unknowns and two familiar-looking strangers.
Offensively, everything happened in the fourth and the fifth, against Jhoulys Chacin and Alex White. The fourth was a monster, featuring six consecutive hits and seven consecutive baserunners. I have no footage of the hits, but I have Gameday descriptions of the hits, and John Jaso's ground-rule double was a line drive. Chone Figgins' triple was a line drive. Dustin Ackley's double was a groundball. Justin Smoak's walk was a walk. When did MLB.com start putting poets in charge of its Gameday product!
Figgins actually tripled twice. Once on a liner to right, and once on a fly ball to center. I recall seeing somebody tweet that the second triple one-hopped the wall. I don't know how shallow Figgins was being played by Eric Young, but I can guess how shallow Figgins was being played by Eric Young, and my guess is that Eric Young was shallow enough to pick Figgins' nose. I don't know why I'm being mean to Chone Figgins on a day that he slugged two triples but I guess why wasn't it three triples? You showed how easy it is to get two, so why didn't you go ahead and get three? Chone Figgins is just so infuriating, I don't even know what I'm going to do.
Ichiro singled twice and walked, wrapping up an unusually successful spring for him. Jaso chimed in with three hits, which is three times as many hits as he had before today. So instead of finishing spring tied in hits with Jarrett Burgess and Leury Bonilla, Jaso finishes spring tied in hits with Adam Moore and Darren Ford. That's what we call number-padding. In time, people will forget that John Jaso waited until the last day to break through, and they'll think that he spaced out those four hits evenly.
Spring training is over now. Friday brings meaningful baseball again. It's not going to feel like really meaningful baseball, because it's the third game of the season and it's against Oakland, but it's going to feel like more meaningful baseball. The Mariners' top spring training batting average belongs to Munenori Kawasaki. The Mariners' top spring training slugging percentage belongs to Trayvon Robinson, or Kyle Seager depending on where you set your minimums. The Mariners' top spring training ERA belongs to Charlie Furbush. It's time that we bid farewell to silly season, and welcome (back) another silly season that's silly in a different way. Silly and long and potentially dreadful. Everybody get your hopes up!