The Seattle Mariners fell to the Kansas City Royals tonight by a score of 5-1. Eric Hosmer jacked a monster two run dinger off of James Paxton in the first inning and Yordano Ventura held the Mariners hitless for seven shutout innings, so let's jump straight to the bullet points and extract whatever interesting tidbits we can from an underwhelming Friday night game.
- Endy Chavez awoke from his deathless slumber in the infinite void beyond the stars to bat leadoff for the Mariners tonight. If you make peace with the idea that the 37 year-old veteran is going to start in 60 or so games for Seattle this year right now, then it's going to be way easier to swallow when it inevitably happens.
- James Paxton got the start tonight and it was clear from the beginning that he wasn't particularly sharp as he struggled to find the strike zone consistently. The dadgutted southpaw survived for 3 2/3 innings on 68 pitches, surrendering five runs on four hits and three walks while only managing to produce one strikeout. Paxton offered an explanation for his off night, reported to us via Ryan Divish:
Paxton said his timing was off with his delivery and that he wasn't following through on his pitches and spinning toward 3B.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 28, 2015
- It's worth noting that Paxton's night was better than his line might suggest. Those other three runs came in the bottom of the 4th inning, all unearned courtesy of a Tyler Smith error at second base. A two out Mike Moustakas double would have resulted in the final out of the inning and two fewer runs to Paxton's line had Endy Chavez not taken a terrible route on the fly ball. All-in-all it wasn't a spectacular outing for Paxton, but between this only being his second start of the spring, the shoddy defense behind him, and the explanation offered by the Mariners' number two starter himself I'm not too worried.
- Tonight's TV broadcast was brought to you exclusively by MLB Network, granting us the opportunity to listen to Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler talk about anything but the baseball game currently unfolding in front of them. Accompanied by the high pitched squeal of what was probably a slightly unplugged microphone, Steve and Rex interviewed a plethora of guests this evening, two of which included former Mariners Chris Young and Mike Sweeney. The worst of the crop was Dayton Moore, whom they allowed to ramble on about Kurt Warner or something for the entirety of the 2nd inning. It was a nightmare. I typically enjoy in-booth interviews, and yes I know it's just Spring Training, but I draw a line when your broadcast starts cutting away from over half of the on field action to show awkward angles of your broadcasters and interviewee staring out onto the field to watch the very game that you're so blatantly ignoring.
- As one might imagine after hearing that the Mariners were held hitless for seven inning by Yordano Ventura there wasn't a lot to take away from Seattle's performance at the plate tonight. However, Mike Zunino drew two walks tonight, which is as awesome as it is improbable.
His first walk came in the top of the 2nd inning against Ventura, when he demonstrated plate discipline unlike that we've yet to see from the young backstop.
His second walk on the night came in the 8th against Jason Frasor, again flashing previously unseen plate discipline.
Zunino will always provide the majority of his value through his fantastic defense, but it's hard not to fantasize about just how valuable he could become if this new approach at the plate he's been talking up all spring has actually provided Zunino with better plate discipline and more opposite field power. Hell, if his 33.2% K% from last season drops to a more reasonable level I'll consider it a victory. Zunino's night at the plate was far and away the bright spot of tonight's loss.
- I have no idea what a Rayder Ascanio is, but it looked solid defensively out at shortstop with a plus range that utilized smooth horizontal movement and demonstrated a strong, if not pinpoint accurate, arm.
- Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, and Dominic Leone each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, which is just what you want to see with little over a week remaining in Spring Training.
- The 25 man roster appeared to be all but finalized until news broke this afternoon that promising Rule 5 draft pick and presumed second bullpen lefty David Rollins is to be suspended 80 games for using PEDs, meaning that the final spot in the bullpen has been reopened for competition. Carson Smith is one of those with a second shot at the job and turned in a decent performance tonight. After allowing the first two batters to reach base he recovered nicely by striking out two in a row and inducing a ground ball out to end the inning. When Smith is on his game he's virtually untouchable, but the command he demonstrated last season hasn't been there so far this spring. I suspect we'll see plenty of the reliever in Seattle this season, but at this point I'd be surprised to see him break camp with the big league club.
- The Mariners sole hit of the night was an RBI single in the 8th inning by Tyler Smith. None of this was ever acknowledged by the broadcast crew.