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Mariners take one from Dodgers, 18 from Giants

Saturday afternoon's first game saw Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley hit a bunch of baseballs, with Erasmo Ramirez making sure others didn't get hit. They beat the Dodgers 8-5 in game two where Jesus Montero did a bunch of things.

Otto Greule Jr

There was a lot of baseball today. A lot of baseball from the Mariners, specifically, who played two split-squad games, first against the Giants where they won handily, 18-3. The second was against the Dodgers, which was great because it was on TV and at night, so if felt like a real baseball game. What wasn't great, however, was Blake Beavan surprisingly getting shelled in his three innings of work. What was confusing was Jesus Montero, but what's new about that? Here's a quick rundown:

Game one: Mariners wallop Giants 18-3

  • The Mariners got started hitting early this morning, and never really let up. They had a four-run first, five-run third, three-run seventh, five-run eighth, and one-run ninth. Michael Saunders went 2-3 with a walk and a dinger, which was wonderful to see, but what was even better was Dustin Ackley going 3-4 on the day. He was a home run away from the cycle. We'll get to Almonte here in a minute, but seeing success from who are ostensibly going to be spending the most time on the outfield out of spring training is nice. In addition, Brad Miller hit a first-inning home run, and walkmaster Ty Kelly was at the plate six times and walked twice. On the other side of all this, Corey Hart went 0-4 on the day, and Logan Morrison, playing first base on the day, was 1-4.
  • It always feels a little strange when any team scores as many as 18 runs. That kind of boxscore isn't really indicative of any structural problems on behalf of the losing team, and everybody has games like these now and then, making them more random outliers than meaning-carrying events. That said, forgetting about the 18 runs and focusing on the Giants' 3 helps us see a really exciting story: Erasmo Ramirez was awesome today. In fact, most of the Mariners pitchers did well in the first game, except for Hector Noesi of course, but Erasmo helped solidify his case for a rotation spot with one hit and four strikeouts over four innings. That didn't even happen until the end of the fourth inning, either. I have no PITCHf/x to see what his pitches looked like, and one spring training game against a pretty good team that knows what they are doing isn't really the best barometer of success, but here's to hoping Erasmo can do more of this soon, and if he can, do it in the regular season.

Game two: Mariners sneak past Dodgers, 8-5

  • Blake Beavan got hit up a bit tonight, and like the action in the afternoon game, it started early. First, Dee Gordon singled and then stole second after the Mariners collective brain decided to forget how to throw and catch baseballs. It was messy, and it sent Gordon to third before Beavan walked Carl Crawford. Three more runs would walk past home plate after more fielding nonsense from Jesus Montero, who looks so weird at home plate. Beavan settled down in the second and third a bit, but he still looked like he was having trouble hitting his spots. His line for the day was 3IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, and 2 K's, which hey Ervin Santana is probably going to the Blue Jays and oh
  • Jesus Montero looks weird at first base. So weird. I don't know if its me or not, just expecting to see him look different, but it's strange. The way his body refuses him the ability to stretch his legs when reaching for a low throw. The way he randomly tumbles head over feet like he doesn't know what to do with the new weight he has put on. But then he hit two home runs today, both to right field. They were even stranger, because he looked terrible in his at-bat with Josh Beckett where he hit his first. Beckett was digging and digging into Montero, hugging the plate, and he fell over twice (and flipped his bat after hitting a foul ball into the baseline seats). Then he hit a blast over the fence and oh just what the hell. His second was in a 2-0 count in the eighth inning off Chris Withrow, another right hander. It was a much better at bat. Here is his first:

  • Justin Smoak hit a homer in the third off Beckett, and Stephen Romero had one in the second. These were great to see, although, again, pitchers do things differently in spring training, so I'm going to forget my whole thing about Erasmo above and say that these games aren't great ways to measure in-game pitching strategy. Beckett's goal today was to throw a bunch of fastballs, and the Mariners punished him for it. But he threw a bunch of fastballs to see what his fastball looks like in 2014. Nobody is wondering if Josh Beckett knows what he is doing out there, even if his aging arm is starting to give him a little trouble on a team that is bursting at the seams with good starters.
  • Abe Almonte made a bunch of great catches today and despite getting picked off, looked good on offense. He ended up only going 1-3, but had a few infield hits that he almost beat, hits that would have anyone else thrown out by miles. He's so fast. So fast. Like many of his teammates, Almonte is in a pretty serious battle for a spot on the opening day roster, and he clearly knows it. Every time you see him put his head down and push all of his 5'9" frame down the baseline, you have to think that he's telling himself that nobody is going to make him safe other than himself, nobody is going to give him a roster spot other than himself, nobody is going to turn a short, overlooked fringe outfielder into a major league baseball player than his own damn self. Despite our teased interest, he is still a bit of a question mark, which Colin iterated this morning. Regardless, and at the risk of sounding like an obnoxious old grit-and-dirt baseball writer, its really exciting seeing someone with blood in his eyes and a constant chip on his shoulder go out and claim everything on the field that he can. Jesus Montero hit two home runs today. He probably isn't going to play a game in Safeco Field in 2014.