After the drama of last night’s WBC game, which was played at the pitch of a World Series tilt, I knew today’s game would pale in comparison. In a way, it was comforting—today’s game had the rhythm of a sunny, sleepy mid-summer Sunday. Offense was thin on the ground in today’s contest, where all the scoring was accomplished by the fourth inning. Dillon Overton, the weediest Duck of the Dynasty, got the start, and pitched decently, throwing 42 of his 60 pitches for strikes and scattering only three hits across three innings of work. Overton had a great changeup today and was able to baffle the Rangers with it, tallying four strikeouts as the lefty kept everything low in the zone. He gave up one home run, to Carlos Gomez, on a pitch that was actually a ball that Gomez happened to golf up and let the warm Surprise air do the rest. The kicker here is Overton should have been out of the inning, after a nice pickoff throw from Tuffy Gosewisch nailed Delino DeShields—who stole two bases on the Mariners today—at second, but Mike Freeman, who’s been having a rough time ever since he was DFA’d, dropped the throw.
The Rangers collected their other run on a Hulk smash home run off the bat of Ryan Rua on a spicy-a meatball served down the middle of the plate by Casey Fien. People will insist on making Casey Fien a thing. I do not care for it. Fien did collect two strikeouts in his inning of work, but also gave up two hits and some hard contact on a sharp lineout off the bat of Will Middlebrooks. The Rangers were also able to get to relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Nick Hagadone for two hits off each, but both lefties collected two strikeouts apiece and held the Rangers scoreless. Hagadone worked two innings for the first time this spring and looked perfectly serviceable, sitting at 90 on his fastball while mixing it with a low-80s slider he had trouble throwing for strikes but kept batters off-balance. Jean Machi also pitched an inning and was the only Mariners reliever not to give up a hit to the Rangers, who at that point were deep in their bench. On the bright side, the Mariners staff issued zero walks over the course of the game.
Offensively, the Mariners just couldn’t get anything going outside of the first inning, where things looked promising for a big inning but the damage was capped at just two runs. Taylor Motter continued to impress, playing both outfield and infield and collecting two hits on the day to lead the team, and stealing a base. Guillermo Heredia, who also showed off his range and his arm in the outfield, reached base on an error and scored after going first to third on a Motter single, and then came home on a Mitch Haniger double down the line. Motter-Heredia-Haniger is quickly becoming one of my favorite combinations for disruptive base running. Unfortunately, the players behind them couldn’t pick them up, especially once the starters were pulled. It’s hard to fault someone like Luis Rengifo, who doesn’t even have a photo on his MiLB page, for not getting a hit against MLB pitcher Keone Kela, for example, but it does make for some pretty dull baseball.
As you know, the Dominican Republic has been eliminated from the WBC, so Cruz, Canó, and Segura will be on their way back to camp this next week—much to the chagrin of the mini-Mariners, for sure, but hopefully some marginally more exciting baseball is on its way. In the meantime, I’m pretty excited to have some great WBC match-ups to watch. If you need a quick primer so you can figure out what team you want to bandwagon, make sure to check out the series Mandy’s been doing on the WBC. And if you can’t find it in you to get worked up about the WBC (I hear such people exist), take heart. Opening Day is just this many days away:
(PS: I was not scheduled to do the recap today; it was supposed to be Ders, but he was in a car accident today. He’s okay, thankfully, but getting rear-ended sucks, so please send your good thoughts to Anders.)