Well the Mariners lost yesterday, and although things technically could have gone worse--J.A. Happ could have blown out his elbow, Kyle Seager could have transformed into a unicorn and flown away--they also kind of couldn't have gone any worse. Today, we got the opposite.
Yes yes, who cares, winning spring training games doesn't matter. In fact, it mattered so little that the umpires were informed the game would end after the ninth inning, despite the fact that it was tied at 3 with only two or so hours under the belt. But then Ketel Marte hit a triple, and D.J. Peterson walked him off with a sacrifice fly and the M's ended up beating the Indians, 4-3.
Outcomes are, however, not why you are here. You are here because you want to hear about Taijuan's curveball landing perfectly on the corners of the plate, or that he was mixing up his pitches like he was closer to 30 than just 20, and that he appeared poised, calm, and ready to pitch in a September game (all those things happened, if you were wondering). His fastball hit 95, and his curveball was sitting twenty mph lower, which would not be fun to try and hit. Twenty-five of his pitches were strikes, eight were balls. He had four strikeouts in three innings. The Mariners just signed veteran starter Kevin Correia to a minor-league deal, and he wants to compete for a roster spot but...well, I think that Mr. Walker has just arrived, and he's not exactly the person you saw last year.
You also probably want to hear about Brad Miller hit two towering homers today, unless your name happens to be Chris Taylor. Of course, if it is, then you should probably stop reading this blog and like, I don't know, do some sports things or something. That feels a little silly to say though, because after each of Brad's dingers, Taylor had some well-hit balls of his own as if to perfect the call-and-response of this shortstop battle that seems split between offensive showmanship and defensive efficiency.
Weird thing is that it's no secret Brad is the better offensive player. So to have Taylor's hits look weaker only seconds after monster dingers probably doesn't mean a ton for the outcome of this battle. I don't know. Either way, well...look at this!
What may mean something is that Brad hit these off both right-and-left-handed hitters, which is a good step forward for Mr. Locks of Love. And hey, Mike Zunino hit one of his own only a few minutes earlier, even though he looked at two called strikes right in the happy zone to start off his at-bat.
The bummer part of the day is that besides Miller, Taylor, Zunino, and the aforementioned garbage-time triple from Ketel Marte, the rest of the M's went hitless on the day, with a pair of strikeouts each for platoon buddies Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano, and Seth Smith. Of course, that's fine every once in a while when your shortstop hits two bombs in one game. It's also fine when your starting pitcher only gives up a single hit in three innings. Or when David Rollins once again hits 94 from the left side to plow through an inning of three lefties.
All those things are fine, and will probably end up happening at Safeco Field sometime during the regular season. What won't happen at Safeco, though, will be Mark Lowe striking out the side in the ninth inning like he did today. I mean, I guess it could, but I'll just use that ninth inning qualifier to ensure I don't have to go back on any of this.
I have to admit that I actually didn't catch Lowe's inning, but I did read the results after the game was over. I can't really tell you much about what happened because the Gameday software was recently sold to Kindercare for use in their daycare centers, and now features toddlers mashing keyboards with drool-encrusted hands to give us updates like the one you see below. That, or Lowe really did throw 92 pitches in a single at-bat, and if so, then sign that metal arm up to a contract tomorrow, boys, we're going to the World Series!
All in all a good game, one which should give us even more to pay attention to over the next couple of weeks. Position battles are starting to get heated, the Mariners are winning in ways that feel like they can actually translate to the regular season, and I also think I've come around on Brad's hair. Today they were staring at an impending tie, and decided to say no thank you, and that they would require a win instead. None of these things need to mean something for September, but hey, isn't that half the fun?