Sometimes, it just isn't your night.
Sometimes you get excited for a game of Mariners baseball only to discover it's a radio-only kind of night. It certainly wasn't my night in that respect, and tonight was definitely not the M's night as they fell to the Indians 4-1. The Mariners' hitters looked helpless at the plate all evening, striking out 12 times while drawing no walks. Josh Tomlin threw six innings allowing just three hits, no runs and striking out 10. No Mariner hitter registered more than a single hit on the day. The only run for the team came in the final inning of play on a sacrifice fly.
Overall, it was certainly a game to forget. It is of course still spring training. Many players are still working out kinks and testing new things with the regular season just a week away.
Speaking of trying new things, Taijuan Walker had an interesting outing. While the No. 4 starter didn't have a particularly impressive outing (5 IP, 3 ER, 7 K, 2 BB), he was testing something new:
Taijuan Walker said he's scrapped his cut fastball and started throwing a slider. Something Mel Stottlemyre recommended— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 30, 2016
Shannon Drayer came onto the broadcast after Walker's outing to talk a little more about the adjustment. She said Walker made this change just a few days ago. He only threw it a handful of times today, one of which didn't go so well:
Walker said the slider he threw to Yan Gomes was a hanger that got hit hard. But he was happy with the pitch for the first time out.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 30, 2016
It's interesting that he's making this kind of change now. You'd think that if Stottlemyre and the staff wanted to try this out with Walker he would have done so earlier in the spring. This could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps they'd been trying to fix his cutter for a couple of months now to no avail. Maybe they asked him to throw the slider in a recent bullpen session and saw the potential in it.
Regardless of the reason behind it, Walker has moved away from his cutter for now. We'll see how this progresses going forward. It's worth noting that his first 15 pitches of the game were all strikes. It's hard to go into an outing with a new pitch and to be confident enough to attack the zone. If he can turn his slider into a serviceable pitch to go along with his fastball and killer breaking ball, he could be a real threat this year.
Even though the M's had a boring game, the radio broadcast was absolutely phenomenal. Aaron Goldsmith and Ryan Rowland-Smith had the call and it was great to listen to. The Hyphen has done a terrific job providing unique commentary and I hope he's able to stick around during the regular season.
While the M's may have lost tonight, tomorrow is a new day. Walker's next start will come during the home opener for the regular season. That's pretty darn exciting. It's about 5:57 a.m. on a 6 a.m. sunrise for the regular season. The clouds are turning orange and the sweet smell of morning is in the air. It won't be long now.