The Mariners decided they had so much fun hanging 13 runs on the Padres in their spring training opener that they might as well do it the next day too. However, instead of 17 hits paving the way to a baker’s dozen, Seattle gladly accepted the 14 free passes San Diego issued in yesterday’s tilt. I bet they even said please and thank you. Give credit to the Mariners hitters and their patience at the plate; however, the pitching staff’s ability to control the zone through 18 innings is equally enticing.
The staff has combined for nine strikeouts through two games without issuing a single base on balls. I tried calculating that K/BB ratio, but the calculator on my computer told me that the answer is “not a number.” That means the Mariners pitching staff has been so dialed in that it can’t be represented numerically. I’ll take it. Nine strikeouts in twice as many innings won’t blow you away, but with a strong group behind the mound, a pitcher can be confident that if they throw strikes the defense has their back.
The hurlers have shown no hesitation pounding the zone. In fact, Mariners pitchers have only found themselves in three-ball counts seven times through two games. Two occasions ended in strikeouts. The final three ball count for a Seattle pitcher ended in a full count fly out. The other four at bats resulted in grounders, one of which found its way into centerfield for an RBI single.
The instance that stood out most to me was Pat Venditte’s strikeout. Notice that he fell down in the count 3-0:
First off, all three pitches that missed the mark were close and well-located. I realize that close doesn’t mean anything, but at least he wasn’t so far off that no batter would have any reason to swing. His next two offerings were comfortably within the zone without crossing directly over the heart of the plate. After successfully working the count full, Venditte cut Luis Torres down looking.
It certainly helps when your team is winning a game that doesn’t count by double digits, but Mariner pitchers have shown a dominance of the zone 18 innings into spring training. Yovani Gallardo, whose 2016 saw a career high BB%, will start atop the hill for the Mariners today with hopes of keeping this trend alive.