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M's pound out 15 hits to beat Cleveland 5-2

Taijuan Walker continued his Spring Training scoreless streak as Seattle beat the Cleveland Indians.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Taijuan Walker wasn't quite as sharp tonight as he had been in his previous outings this spring (he threw less than 60% of his pitches for strikes tonight), but he was still able to work his way through four innings without giving up any runs. His ability to locate his fastball seemed a little shaky, but his offspeed stuff more than made up for it. He was throwing both his curveball and his changeup for strikes and generated a total of 10 swings and misses on the evening. His first real test of the spring came when he loaded the bases in the second inning with one out. Fortunately, after giving up a single, a HBP, and a BB (which led to a visit from pitching coach Rick Waits), Walker was able to double down and throw six of his next eight pitches for strikes to retire the bottom two hitters in Cleveland's lineup and escape the jam without allowing any damage. That has to be really big for Walker's confidence moving forward. Woo!

My favorite Taijuan Walker sequence of the night came against Brandon Moss in the fourth inning. He painted both the inside and outside corners perfectly, showing Moss a speed differential of 20 mph in his pitches in the at bat, before ultimately recording a swing and miss on a 95 mph fastball up and in on the hands. It was as beautiful as it was brutal.

Offensively, the Mariners looked pretty good tonight, compiling 15 hits (13 singles) and working three walks. Although Seattle did squander a bases loaded, no out situation in the second inning (courtesy of a Brad Miller strike out and a Jesus Sucre GDP), Cano delivered in the fifth with the biggest knock of the evening, lining a two-run double to right-center field to put the Mariners ahead 3-1. Austin Jackson, Kyle Seager, and Dustin Ackley also each chipped in with multi-hit games. A lot of Seattle's base hits tonight were probably a little bit lucky (many in the form of groundballs hit through holes in the infield - Seager had three such hits), but the team did a good job of making contact and being aggressive.

  • Tonight, 14 of the 17 batters that Walker faced batted from the left side. These men went 2 for 13 with two singles and a walk. He hasn't had the biggest right/lefty splits thus far in his professional career (0.634 OPS vs. righties and 0.685 OPS vs. lefties at all levels), but it was still nice to see him work his way through a fairly potent, lefty-heavy lineup a couple of times without giving up any runs.
  • Alex Jackson made his spring training début in the bottom of the fifth, coming in to pinch run after a Seth Smith walk. He later scooted around the bases (showing pretty decent speed) to score from first base on Cano's double. In his first at bat, Jackson stayed back on a 1-1 slider from T.J. House and hit a broken-bat flare to left field for a base hit. (He also struck out swinging in the eighth inning against Zach McAllister.)

(Once again, GIF courtesy of Jose Rivera.)

  • David Rollins pitched the fifth inning for the M's tonight, surrendering his first run of the spring. He faced five batters (two batting from the right side), giving up a couple of singles and the one earned run. He touched 94 mph with his fastball and still seems like he's probably the current favorite for that second lefty spot in the 'pen. That being said, Tyler Olson is also having a pretty solid spring, sooooo... we'll just have to see how things shake out.
  • At this point, I don't know how many more shaky outings Lucas Luetge can put up if he still wants to have even the slimmest of chances of making the big league club. Thankfully for him, he was quite efficient tonight. He faced Brandon Moss (LHB), Yan Gomes (RHB), and Lonnie Chisenhall (LHB) and recorded a strikeout and two weak groundballs. That is a set of three pretty accomplished hitters and Luetge made his inning of work look easy. I don't know how much that'll ultimately end up mattering, but good for you all the same, Lucas!
  • During his in-game interview, Jack Zduriencik provided two small nuggets of information that are maybe kinda sorta somewhat interesting. First, he did once again confirm that the Mariners are going to go with a seven-man bullpen this year (to start the season, at least). And second, the team will be making another round of cuts tomorrow. So keep an open for that!

After their win tonight, the Mariners pushed their Spring Training record back above 0.500 to 8-7-1. With 16 games remaining on their spring schedule, the M's are now halfway done with exhibition games. Hooray! Seattle will be playing meaningful baseball at Safeco Field in just 18 days. That's soon.

Go M's!