The good news first. Taijuan was once again at the top of his game, throwing three hitless innings against the Diamondbacks with a walk and two strikeouts. He hit 96 (!), and the only baserunner apart from the walk reached on an error that very well could have been a strikeout had the zone been called any different:
If you remember, Taijuan was supposed to compete for a rotation spot last year--which he did--but he faced that challenge with inconsistency, varying velocity, and command one step removed from a Bob Ross painting completed with a two-inch-long ceiling roller in a bucket of paint with no dropcloth. But now he's easily spotting up his pitches, topping a velocity that he might not even need to reach with the pitches he has, and he's doing it all while he's, you know, twenty-two years old.
The exciting thing about that sentence is that it tells you a story about the Seattle Mariners in 2015, but it also, tentatively, tells you a story about the Seattle Mariners in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. And this is the real deal--you didn't actually get to watch Taijuan pitch today, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because you are going to watch him pitch 100 games over the next couple of years, so if anything, today was just a vacation from the inevitable. Take that as you will.
More good news then? Well, fine. Let's see here...we have hits from Stefen Romero, James Jones, Seth Smith, Robinson Cano, Ketel Marte, (I'm literally just reading down the box score at this point), Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, and Brad Miller. Phew! Jesus Sucre scored the first run of the game on a walk. Ack walked twice. It was an eventful day on offense, but it was also an atypical day as all these Seattle Mariners did things that they may not often do this summer, as it's still spring. Which can be further attested to with a six-run ninth-inning, which in and of itself would have been enough to win the game and boy spring training is just the best sometimes.
Pitching? Well again, Rodney was in midseason form with a meaningless walk and an otherwise hitless inning. Tom Wilhelmsen ran into trouble with three hits and two runs, which is quite unfortunate, and since we're gonna just do the meaningless game here, Lucas Luetge and Yoervis Medina followed him with two scoreless innings. Then the M's bench scored those runs in the ninth, and you stopped watching because let's be honest.
But alas, we must confront the bad news:
Chris Taylor out 4 to 6 weeks with a broken bone in his wrist— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 14, 2015
I suppose the relative bad-ness of this injury depends on who you are, and if your name is Brad Miller, then you have to be at least okay with the idea that you are now the Mariners default starting shortstop. But that's also not quite accurate, because while we can't find out what's going on in his head, you have to know that Miller and Taylor have been working out together quite a bit this spring, and as a result, have apparently become pretty good friends.
While I'm sure Miller is comfortable with the fact that he will be spending at least the first few weeks in the bigs this year, he can't be happy that his teammate--who has shown his fair share of offensive competency this spring even beyond what was expected of him--is going to suffer a big setback to what could have been his first full season in the bigs.
All in all, it's a shitty way for the shortstop battle to end. At the very least, Miller and Taylor would have made each other better all spring, and the way it should have ended was with a well-fought job earned, not an injury sliding over to default. Here's to Taylor's arm feeling better and a quick recovery. Injuries are just the worst.
The M's will continue their spring with a game against the Dodgers at 1 tomorrow, but with Taylor sidelined, the only serious remaining battle seems to be over the final position in the bullpen. Still reason enough to keep watching, but boy, who would have thought we'd be here by March 14th, huh?