That certainly was a fairly uneventful baseball game. Despite racking up twice as many hits as the Rockies, the Mariners were outscored 4-1 and saw their record drop below .500 for the first time during Spring Training. They had plenty of opportunities to take the lead this afternoon, especially in the eight inning when they had a man at third with nobody out, but could never manage to score a second run. This game appeared to be heading for extras until Lucas Luetge gave up three runs (one unearned) in the top of the ninth inning in his continuous battle with Joe Saunders to become the least likely lefty to make it into the Mariners bullpen.
However, with the exception of Luetge, Mariners pitchers did do a pretty good job of limiting hard contact in today's game. They did issue four walks, but Mariners pitching didn't record a fly ball out until midway through the seventh inning. The only balls to leave the infield before Matt McBride flew out to Stefen Romero were the two hits given up by Erasmo in the first inning. This was a little bit disappointing because I was looking forward to seeing how well Weeks could move around in left field, but I guess we'll just have to wait a few more games to see how he's acclimating to life as an outfielder.
I don't really know what else to say... so let's just move along to some bullet points. Everyone likes bullet points, right?
- Brad Miller was held hitless for the first time this spring, going 0 for 3 with two flyouts and a groundball for a fielder's choice. He did, however, make one pretty good defensive play in the top of the second inning. Although his foot/glove work looked a bit sketchy on this play, he was able to field a ball deep in the hole at short and make a strong throw to first base to beat LeMahieu for the out.
(All GIFs courtesy of the inimitable Jose Rivera. Be sure to go follow him if you haven't already.)
- Chris Taylor was able to work a two-out walk in the second inning, but he also failed to record a hit this afternoon. Taylor did look very comfortable moving around as the second baseman, which is nice, but I don't imagine today's performances by Seattle's middle infielders helped nudge Lloyd McClendon one way or the other re: his decision in the M's shortstop battle.
- Rickie Weeks checked in with his second base hit of Spring Training (the first that didn't travel approximately 650 feet), hitting a ground ball single to center field in the second inning. Ground ball base hits aren't necessarily the most exciting, but Weeks fought back from an 0-2 count to reach base, which is something that's wonderful to see.
- Kyle Seager smashed a home run in the bottom of the third inning, hitting an 88 mph fastball over the right field fence. The pitch from Bergman was high and tight, but Seager kept his hands in and turned on the ball, launching it for his first dinger of the spring.
- Wilin Rosario and allowing just two baserunners in his three innings of work. Unfortunately, unless someone gets hurt, his chances of making this team seem pretty slim regardless of how well he pitches.
had a pretty solid start today. He threw 70% of his pitches for strikes and settled down after a shaky first inning, giving up only a solo home run to Tulowitzki and a single to
- In the top of the fourth inning, Danny Hultzen stepped onto the mound in a professional baseball game for the first time in more than 18 months... and the first batter he faced was All-Star slugger Troy Tulowitzki. Talk about easin' into it. Danny seemed a little rusty/nervous initially, spiking a few of his breaking pitches during a six-pitch walk to Tulo, but he quickly recovered by inducing a double play and a ground ball to get out of the inning. Hultzen hit 95 mph with his fastball and had a 15 mph difference between his heater and his changeup. Hopefully this outing has given him the confidence he needs to continue to improve as Spring Training progresses.
- Fernando Rodney pitched a very Fernando Rodney inning in the top of the fifth, walking two batters and striking out one. He hit 95 mph with his fastball and delighted the crowd by shooting an arrow as he walked off the field.
- Tom Wilhelmsen also made his Spring Training début this afternoon. He retired the Rockies in order in the sixth inning, needing just 10 pitches to induce three ground ball outs. He located his pitches very well and managed to hit 96 mph with his fastball.
Despite the Mariners loss, I think today was a pretty good/encouraging day of baseball. The players who seem likely to contribute in 2015 played pretty well and (most importantly) nobody got hurt. There are just 26 more days until opening day.