Today was another relatively quiet weekend game. The sun is streaming through the window as I type this and the mirabelle plum tree outside is starting to bloom and if I squint a little this could be a summer Saturday. We are in the single digits for the countdown to Real Baseball!
As the Mariners were facing another AL West opponent today in the Rangers, they opted to make like Macbeth and hide their stars’ fires, putting lackadaisical car wash employee Dillon Overton on the mound. Overton was very sharp in his six innings, giving up just four hits and one run, while striking out three and walking none. His one run came on a solo homer to pesky outfield golem Ryan Rua, on a curveball that failed to break (Gameday has this listed as a changeup but it looked like a curve to me). On the broadcast, Overton mentioned that he and Stottlemyre have been working on developing the curveball, and he’s really pleased with where it’s at. Mistake pitch to Rua aside, Overton was able to use the curve to generate fouls, whiffs, and called strikes, and also could use it to set up his fastball and changeup. A three-pitch Overton is a very different pitcher from a two-pitch Overton (he also throws a cutter and a slider, but he primarily used the other three) and could be an intriguing starter option if the pitch continues to develop. I feel a little badly for him because all he wants is to make the big league club, and said he’d be willing to do anything—long relief, spot starter, whatever—to have a spot, but maybe stashing him in Tacoma and letting him further develop the curveball is the best long-term plan for both him and the team.
Offensively, the Mariners got off to a slow start again against Nick Martinez, who collected six strikeouts in his four innings of work. He evaded damage in early innings—Haniger doubled off him in the first, and Heredia in the third—but was unable to escape in the fourth, although it wasn’t really his fault. A throwing error to lead off the fourth put Haniger on at first, and then birthday boy Mike Zunino singled to put two on for Ben Gamel, who lucked out when a lumbering Ryan Rua couldn’t collect a ball hit down the line. 2-1, Mariners. Taylor Motter would add a Motter Pop off knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa:
Not to disagree with the esteemed Mariners twitter account, but this ball actually runs pretty far in on Motter, who shows off that big power in his ability to turn on it and deposit it somewhere in Area 51.
Jean Machi, Jonathan Aro, and Evan Scribner each pitched a scoreless inning of relief and combined to give up 0 hits, 0 walks, and two strikeouts. All day long, the Mariners defense also showed out well: Zunino gunned down Drew Robinson trying to steal second, Rayder Ascanio showed why he’s getting a long look in spring training with a great diving stop, and Mike Freeman made a tough sliding catch in foul territory. Even Manny Acta showed off some big-league reflexes.
Also: big bonus points to the fans chanting “WE LIKE MIKE” and singing him Happy Birthday from the stands. I’m sure Z appreciated it.
Also also: the editor needs some new pictures of Dillon Overton.
Also also also: only one more Saturday ST game to go!