Well what we had here was a classic Spring Training game--multiple lead changes, scores of pitchers with strange names tip-toeing through minefields, errors up the wazzoo, and early dingers off the bats of players who were eating cheetos by last pitch.
But the fireworks wouldn't be enough to keep the M's on top by the end of the afternoon. Things were looking great in the first, as A's starter Nate Smith opened the gate by giving up a double, single, homer, and HPB before earning his first out of the inning. Well, great for the Mariners in any case. Smith was clearly rattled, and at one point his face looked almost as red as his jersey, which maybe, hey, can't blame the guy for trying camouflage when nothing else was working. By the second, however, he was throwing like none of it happened at all.
That was kind of the theme of the whole afternoon, as an Angels meltdown would give way to a Chris Taylor bobbled play, then a former Mariner in an Angels uniform would manage to screw something else up, and then the Mariners would follow suit in tandem, like the whole thing was scripted. This, honestly, was one of the weirdest parts of this whole game, featuring not the Angels team we will be watching in July but rather an odd amalgamation of their entire farm system displayed for your viewing pleasure in one brief moment. I would be in the other room getting food or something, hearing "...f the inning, as Ji-Man Choi replaces Marte in the leadoff spot here in th..." and think oh great the Mariners are up, except it would be the Angels. Remember Rob Rasmussen? I tried not to, but here he was giving up walks to Shawn O'Malley and Ed Lucas and World: Stop it! I'm having a hard enough time remembering half my own team for you to keep doing any of this.
Wade Miley looked fine in his first outing as a Mariner, sitting in the high 80's/low 90's with a good mix of pitches. Jake is gonna have a piece up on this soon, but the oddest thing about Miley's outing--which included a walk and two strikeouts over two frames--was that his command was fine for everything but his fastballs. I know, first game, spring training, blah blah blah, but it sounds like the regular season numbers back this up. Here is his walk to Carlos Perez in the top of the second:
The only pitches egregiously out of the zone were fastballs, and particularly, fastballs thrown on the harder end of the spectrum. I'm not going to pretend that this single at-bat from the first game of his spring can tell us anything meaningful about what Wade Miley is going to look like at Safeco here in 2016, but I think it's interesting nonetheless.
Speaking of reading too much into early spring pitching appearances, David Rollins had himself a bit of a bummer afternoon, giving up two hits and what would be the decisive run for the Angels late in the eighth. Rollins, if you remember, was a Rule 5 pickup last season who checked every box on Jack Z's oddly successful reliever acquisition spreadsheet. But it wasn't even anything that specific that drove the M's to picking him up--any time you can snag a lefty who can regularly hit 94 or 95 for almost nothing, you just pull the dang trigger. But then the PED thing hit, and he ended up serving an eighty-game suspension last year. All of which brings us to today, where he came out of the gate a good 2-3 mph slower on both his fastball and his changeup. Again, first outing, spring, blah blah blah, but it will be something to keep an eye on for sure.
The real decisive moment came in the seventh, however. Jonathan Aro pitched himself into a bit of trouble which was aided by an incredibly timely error off the glove of Chris Taylor. After what could have been a double play to end the inning, suddenly the bases were loaded for Tony Zych, who labored through the final two outs to put the Angels up by a pair of runs. They would get even another in the eighth after Chris Taylor bobbled another grounder which turned into a double...but then again he doesn't do that weird thing where he turns his glove into a chicken wing while throwing a knuckleball from his waist while making his tongue stick out to touch his chin. You decide what you really want out of this whole situation.
That said, the real controversy of the day came when Dae-Ho Lee came up to bat in the eighth for the first time as a Seattle Mariner. Despite taking one look at the first pitch he saw, then promptly swinging all two-hundred-and-whatever pounds of sheer colossal strength at it, the ball only traveled a few feet into the outfield. It was, at the level of expectation and result, the biggest discrepancy since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The answer to this, of course, is to play Dae-Ho in every single game from now until September. I can think of no better way to remedy the situation, and will not be listening to your opinions in the comments, don't @ me.
Tomorrow we pick right back up with the Rangers, getting our first look at former Los Angeles Dodger great Hisashi Iwakuma. Game is at 12:05 and radio only.