It's times like this where my laziness is rewarded. Where my reluctance to start an article until a game actually finishes just in case something miraculous happens pays off. Given, I've never actually recapped a baseball game before (basketball only so far) so hi everybody!
Anyway, Mariners. I was just about to write this one off, as I'm sure many of you out there were too, when the minor leaguers came into the game and decided to put a rally together in the ninth to give the Mariners a win that really didn't feel one.
The game started off with popular new fan crush Roenis Elias taking the mound after being named the team's No. 4 starter earlier today. At first, Elias was completely dominating by throwing strikes and mixing his pitches excellently, making established major leaguers such as Carlos Gonzalez look like players fresh out of high school with that nasty curveball.
After the first couple of innings he started to allow some line drives, including a triple to Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood who was batting as the DH so the team could get him acclimated to actual games because the National League is weird and still forces pitchers to bat. On that very triple, Chatwood injured his leg while running and left the game immediately with a left hamstring strain and cramping. He will be reevaluated tomorrow to see how severe the injury really is.
Elias gave up plenty of other line drives but was able to keep the damage to just two runs by getting out of jams. His control sputtered over the course of the game and there were times where he completely nailed his spots and was able to beautifully paint the corners, and other times when he was a mile off of where catcher Mike Zunino wanted the pitch. Obviously he isn't perfectly polished considering he hasn't even pitched in AAA before, and the progress he makes with locating his pitches consistently will be something to watch for as the season gets going. He ended the game with 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, and 5 K. Not a bad line for his last start of the spring. The kid has a ton of potential and I can't wait to see what he can do down the road.
The M's struggled a little bit at first on the other side of the ball and weren't able to get a hit until the 4th inning when a line drive single by Abe Almonte broke up the Cactus League no-no. The bats really didn't come alive at all until the ninth inning, by which time I was seriously thinking about just turning the TV off and getting a quick start on this here recap. It was the following sequence that allowed the M's to squeak out the win:
- John Buck walks
- John Hicks pinch runs for Buck
- Endy Chavez reaches first base on a fielding error by shortstop Josh Rutledge. Hicks advances to second.
- Tyler Smith doubles down the left field line, scoring Hicks and Chavez. Game tied 2-2
- Ketel Marte bunts to advance Smith to third. Marte thrown out at first.
- Stefen Romero walked intentionally.
- Nate Tenbrink singles to right field, scoring Smith. Mariners win 3-2
- Yoervis Medina also pitched excellently, throwing two perfect innings with three strikeouts. The Rockies' announcer on the broadcast said something along the lines of "How many of these guys do you have?!" following one of Medina's strikeouts on a nasty breaking ball.
- I don't know quite what it was, but Almonte ran a terrible route on the Chatwood triple. Maybe it was because it was the pitcher who was up and Almonte wasn't at all prepared for anything coming out to him or maybe he has a real problem with his routes. There have been times this spring where he's been a step or two behind and so it wouldn't surprise me if it was the latter. Still, I wouldn't be too concerned until I see this being a problem during the regular season.
- Tyler Smith's line drive was also something to behold, and the young kid hasn't even played above Pulaski yet in the minors. The Mariners seem to be brimming with middle infield talent up and down the system and I'm excited to see how the young shortstop progresses in the minors this year. Here's his MiLB profile for those interested.