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Mariners defy expectations, beat Rangers

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The Mariners rallied to beat the Rangers 9-8 with the help of Mike Dowd, Cole Gillespie, Chris Taylor, and Xavier Avery. It was the sweet redemption Felix Hernandez needed in his second start of the year.

Christian Petersen

This is the kind of game that I'd like to see replicated in the regular season -- one with strong competition, decent pitching (though that may be a stretch given Fernando Rodney's performance), and an offense powerful enough to overturn a significant lead. Watching Willie Bloomquist go 3-for-3 wouldn't hurt, either.

Here's what you don't need to know about today's game:

  • The Mariners battled back from a five-run deficit to overwhelm the Rangers 9-8. Can you guess how many of those runs were accumulated while Felix was pitching? That's right, none.
  • Hernandez made his second start of the spring, lasting 2 1/3 innings with 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, and 4 SO.
  • Willie Bloomquist went 3-for-3 with a hard-hit line drive and a pair of infield singles. His first hit should've driven in Michael Saunders, but the outfielder was foiled by a well-timed throw by Leonys Martin and tagged out at home.
  • The Rangers' Cory Burns bore the brunt of the Mariners' offense. In the 8th inning, Texas righty Alex Gonzalez set the table with a pair of base hits and a walk. Mike Dowd kicked off the rally against Burns, sending two runners home on a ground-rule double that came just shy of clearing the bullpen. Cole Gillespie and Chris Taylor followed with a triple and double, respectively, tying the game and leaving outfielder Xavier Avery to bounce the winning run off of Burns -- literally.
  • Zach Miner put a small dent in his pristine spring record, retiring three batters and giving up a home run to outfielder Michael Choice in 1 1/3 innings pitched. Not only was it Choice's first home run for the Rangers, but it was also the first hit allowed by Miner this year.
  • Tom Wilhelmsen received the nod in the Mariners' 10th Cactus League win. The Bartender pitched a scoreless two innings, allowing one hit and striking out Josh Wilson to cut his ERA in half.
  • Despite not getting any today, the Mariners somehow still lead the Cactus League with 14 home runs.

Here's what you do need to know:

  • Felix Hernandez refined the "garbage change-up" (his words, not anyone else's) he tossed to the Dodgers last week, putting the ball in the strike zone for 34 of 48 pitches. After today's outing, he told the press that the feel and mechanics of his change-up were much improved, though the results were less than desirable. Jurickson Profar drew a walk in the first at-bat of the game, but Felix regained control and retired the next three batters, including newly-christened Ranger Prince Fielder.
  • Dustin Ackley gave the tireless Abraham Almonte a respite from the leadoff spot, but Lloyd McClendon says that it meant virtually nothing. From Bob Dutton: "Lloyd McClendon on Dustin Ackley in leadoff spot today: 'Don't read much into the lineups right now. He's just leading off. That's all.'" Tell us how you really feel, skipper.
  • Bloomquist subbed in for Robinson Cano at second base and rounded out his performance with a handful of slick defensive moves, turning two grounders for the second and third outs of the third inning. WFB won't see a lot of playing time this year, but it would be nice to see this level of production on Cano's rare day off.
  • Spring training games don't matter. We're not going to the World Series (yet).

Tomorrow, the M's have another split squad day against the Royals and Diamondbacks. Neither game will be televised, but you can catch the Mariners-Royals broadcast on KCSP at 1:05 p.m. PST and the Mariners-Diamondbacks on 710 ESPN at 4:10 p.m. PST. Brandon Maurer is slated to begin the afternoon contest against James Shields, while lefties James Paxton and Patrick Corbin will go head-to-head at night.