Well folks we're just a week in to the whole nine-inning games thing here in Peoria so results-based analysis is entirely meaningless. What we are sure of is that Seattle Mariners beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5 in a contest that opened with Taijuan Walker looking absolutely studly, man, and a couple anemic offensive performances out of the starting cast. This time of year, I personally find the stories to be more intriguing than the results and I think that most of you are in the same boat. So, let's all quit celebrating the crushing of the defending World Champions, who now pass their crown to Scott Servais and his Gallant Guys, and look at what's transpired today.
First and foremost, Taijuan Walker pitched a wonderful three innings. His first inning was a little shaky due in part to some inconsistent fastball command, but more so just bad luck with two well-struck ground balls bleeding through the shift in to the outfield grass. Tai touched 98 with his fastball (HELLLO) and his curve was 12-6 and absolutely devastating when he was being given the bottom of the zone. It's the sort of stuff you're now beginning to expect out of this still-very-young starting pitcher and man I hope we all appreciate what could be happening here with Mr. Walker. Between he and Iwakuma, you may just have two Number Two starters. All part of that high-upside starting rotation Jerry built this offseason. Tai's one mistake of the day, to Drew Butera to start the 3rd, was punished for a solo homerun.
On the offensive side of the ball, there's not much of note from the starting cast. Nelson, Robbie, and Guti all had entirely forgettable days. The Royals were extremely error-prone and bled runs due to that issue all game, but the M's were good enough to capitalize and force the issue with runners on base. Kyle singled home a run in the 3rd, and Chris Iannetta had a good look at the plate taking a walk and smashing a single in to left.
One of the points I keep hammering is that Robinson Cano has another MVP season in him. Of course that bat is gonna play for at least a couple more years, but his detractors will site his defense. Last year was a symptom of his poor health, and if he stays fit and full of piss and vinegar, his second base is still incredible and breath taking. Take a look at this play from early on. Nobody does this.
That is a no-look, bullet to Marte covering second. Even more encouraging there, Ketel knows Robbie has this in the tool bag, and covers second accordingly. I really look forward to their partnership blossoming this season.
Other notes from the game include all four(?) of the Lind platoon candidates having AB's and essentially all of them looked ready for the fight except Jesus Montero. Gabby Sanchez played DH and dropped a single in to center. Stephen Romero hit a double and another deep flyout to LCF and Dae-Ho Lee came up in the 8th to single home a run. That second spot at first is going to be a real fight worth keeping your eyes on.
Cody Martin pitched the 4th, 5th, and 6th and was clearly working on his curveball, which bit him a little in the 4th where he bled a couple runs but in the 5th and 6th he really spun it. With Hultzen, Cook, and Scribner all needing rest, those final few bullpen spots will also be a dogfight.
Sardinas came in late to play center, which is a needed experiment, however he had no fielding chances. The very idea shows his versatility relative to Chris Taylor, which may put Luis ahead of Chris in the utility battle. Don't forget about Shawn O'Malley, who we didn't see today, though.
To close out the books on the Mariners from a pitching aspect, Jonathon Aro and Adrian Sampson pitched the final three frames of mostly unremarkable ball. Adrian Sampson is a local kid, who played at Skyline High School and is a fun story to follow as such.
The final innings of this game, like almost all until the games start counting, was quintessential Spring Ball. There were errors all over the field by young and under-qualified Royals, and the Mariners ended up pulling ahead late on due to these lapses. Honestly, it's just nice see the team punishing mistakes, no matter what level. However, it is even nicer watching the Kansas City Kendrys' lose. I will always be bitter.