Spring Training’s value is different for everyone. For veterans it’s maintenance. For young players it's a chance to be seen against top-level competition and make an impression, or learn from those around them. Fringe players compete fiercely for precious spots on the 25-man. Fans find joy in attendance, followed by exasperation at needing to wait longer for “"the real thing.” Analysts make snap judgments and other analysts make fun of those judgments. you know, fun.
Hisashi Iwakuma’s outing looked better than his last debacle by leaps and bounds. While he still allowed three runs in 3.2 IP, he also struck out five and walked none, and was bitten by a first inning of flares and seeing-eye-singles and some even year magic Joe Panik found inside an old Skoal can. He threw 65 pitches and 50 for strikes, with velocity on his fastball around 86-88. It's very hard to exist at that velocity, even for someone as accustomed to adapting to low velocity as Kuma. He’ll likely be as big a beneficiary of the Marine Layer outfield as anyone this year, but his margin for error is going to be thinner than ever.
Matt Moore shut down the Mariners today through four innings, allowing just a Guillermo Heredia single and a Kyle Seager walk to reach base. The Giants would likely have won if it were a real game, except in a real game Robinson Canó, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura, and Mitch Haniger would have been playing. Thankfully, they're playing right now instead.
In a real game, Daniel Vogelbach, who went 0-3, including a rare backwards K, would likely not start against a lefty. Danny Valencia’s spring has been whelming-adjacent, and while he put his second straight nice game together, it took until Moore was removed for him to clobber a double. In fact, any success in the game for the Mariners came only after the Giants’ lefty gave way to a bullpen that looked just as disorganized as the group that was 22nd in the league last year by fWAR.
Kyle Seager tripled in the 6th off of David Hernandez, utilizing exactly the right angle of carom you would imagine a Kyle Seager triple to require. Seeing Seager hit in the third spot, as he would for plenty of teams, has been a fun bit of the WBC/Spring Training experience.
Taylor Motter walked once and played solid defense, and did neither anything to separate or fall behind Shawn O’Malley in the utility-man race. Guillermo Heredia submitted a ripped shot RBI double and a 2-3 afternoon. He countered Ben Gamel’s 0-3 afternoon, albeit with a magnificent catch in the 1st. Tyler Smith, who is 25 years old and having as good a spring as anyone, hit the ball hard twice and was rewarded with a hit. He’s assuredly still minors-bound, but his display puts the depth at utility in even better hands.
On the mound following Kuma, James Pazos looked good again, putting his one subpar outing further behind him. No walks, happy folks. Jonathan Aro was/is/will be worse at his job than will make us happy. Darin Gillies/Blake Perry/whoever was actually wearing #89 looked good, but his true identity will be forgotten to the ages, as will his record as the winning pitcher.
The Mariners won this game in unremarkable fashion due to the players participating, which did not make it an unexciting game. It did make it less useful for prognostication, however. Tyler O’Neill drawing a bases loaded walk while laying off multiple good off-speed pitches is cool, but doing so off an MLB-pitcher loses a bit of shine when it is Jose Dominguez, one of the most strikeout-allergic relievers in the majors last year. A win is a win, and this was a fun game to watch, in its purest form, but it was fortunately also played with the lowest of stakes.
A fun thing, however, is this: 16 days until “Go M’s” is not just a sign-off, but a roaring, united cry.