I’ve always carried the same attitude into nearly every Spring Training game I’ve ever watched/checked: it’s okay if the Mariners lose, just so long as the main guys did fine and the loss was primarily caused by the piles of minor leaguers and non-roster invitees going haywire. I can’t imagine this is a unique perspective, but it’s one I feel is worth mentioning when I tell you that the Cleveland Indians just got finished teeing off on Seattle Mariners pitching, handing them a 14-6 loss in an unusually late Spring Training game on Wednesday night.
The things you mainly wanted to go well went well. Starter Hisashi Iwakuma turned in two shutout innings, surrendering a walk and a double, but striking out two in the effort. Ariel Miranda struck out Erik Gonzalez and Greg Allen in a perfect inning of relief. According to Gameday, Miranda got his fastball up to 95 mph on multiple occasions, which could really mean anything given the reliability of Gameday the last few days. He might have thrown 88. He might have thrown 100. He might have thrown a R.A. Dickey-esque knuckle ball. You really don’t know what to believe at this point in time. Casey Fien also recorded a perfect inning of relief, striking out Willie Castro and something called a ‘Mike Papi’.
On the offensive side of things, everything was just fine. Kyle Seager recorded two hits, including a double to center field. Daniel Vogelbach showed off his advanced plate approach by walking twice. Mitch Haniger nearly went yard again. It was a fine showing by the roughly six-and-a-half assumed regulars who aren’t off competing in the World Baseball Classic.
(Fun fact: the outfielder who horribly misplays the Martin blooper above hit leadoff for the Mariners at one point last year wheeeeeee!)
The vast majority of Cleveland’s damage came against players who have long been expected to start the year in Triple-A. The scoring started against James Pazos, the high-octane lefty with fleeting command. After surrendering a ground-rule double, Pazos missed bad with an 0-2 fastball to Edwin Encarnacion, one player it’s probably best to avoid missing badly with your 0-2 fastball against:
The outing was a pretty on-point summary of Pazos’ scouting report: the raw stuff is stellar and looks close to untouchable if he can spot it, but we’re talking a Wily Mo Peña-sized ‘if’ here. The same thing would happen soon after on a two-run single from Francisco Mejia, this time with a poorly located slider:
And then again, on a poorly-located two-strike fastball that turned into an Erik Kratz dinger:
Erik Kratz hit one home run in all of 2016, majors or minors. When you’re pitching for a spot in a bullpen, Erik Kratz is not the kind of person you want to be coughing up dingers to. Pazos is clearly gifted on the mound, but until the command catches up, it would be tough to stomach watching him pitch in meaningful, major league games.
After Pazos, the Mariners turned to non-roster invitee Ryan Weber. Weber turned in a clean inning in the fifth, registering three consecutive ground balls in just ten pitches. He nearly turned in a second scoreless inning, but then this beautiful mess of an error happened:
There’s a lot going on here. It’s a tough play, sure, but it’s one Motter needs to make. As for Vogelbach, the camera angle makes it difficult to deduce how poor of a throw it was, but that ball must be kept in front of him, even if it means coming off the bag. Perhaps he’s just willing to try out the riskier digs in Spring Training. I’ll give him a pass there, but it was an ugly play all around. On a third note, what in the hell is that sound right at the beginning of the video?
The error extended the inning and, as a result, ended Weber’s night. In search of a calming of a storm, the Mariners turned to Zac Curtis. Curtis proceeded to struggle and struggle emphatically. He couldn’t find the strike zone much at all all night and when he did, the ball was hit hard. Jose Ramirez, the first batter Curtis faced, drove a pitch down in the zone out over the wall in left-center for a three-run blast. The next inning, Curtis failed to record an out, surrendering a line drive single, a sharp ground ball single, a walk, and then a thunderous grand slam to Adam Moore on a 3-1 pitch.
Seemingly every year Adam Moore does one single thing that makes me think “oh, hey, Adam Moore is still alive” before I carry on with my life. This year it appears he just wanted to get that moment out of the way with extra early. Kudos to you, Mr. Moore.
The rest of the game would be played out by a variety of players with nameless jerseys and high-level numbers. Zach Shank picked up a RBI single in the ninth. Ian Miller managed to steal third and it wasn’t even close. Let me just say it’s very nice to watch the minor leaguers in high definition instead of the monstrosity of a video feed I’m used to watching them play in.
The Mariners are now 7-5 in Spring Training. They’ve lost four of the last five. Everybody panic.