Everyone is beating the “Spring Training is meaningless” drum these days, but there’s still a thrill in beating last year’s World Series champions. I’m pretty sure this 8-6 victory, by the transitive property, makes the Mariners champions. Of course, I may not have paid attention well in math class, so don’t quote me on that.
There were plenty of fun things in this game, including a chance to see our old friends Mike Montgomery and Munenori Kawasaki.
James Paxton started for the Mariners and threw three impressive innings. He struck out five, four of them looking (I just love recording the backwards K in my scorebook). The only hit he gave up was a home run to Anthony Rizzo, which is forgivable. He didn’t walk anyone and never had the chance to practice pitching from the stretch.
Evan Scribner followed with a quick 1-2-3 inning. Jonathan Aro had a tough time. After two strikeouts, he gave up three consecutive hits and two runs. Dillon Overton put in two innings of work and gave the Cubs another run. Jean Machi also contributed a run to the Cubs’ total. Christian Bergman came in to get the save in the ninth inning, but not before the Cubs put up a good fight. Kawasaki had an RBI single. If you have to give up runs in the ninth, at least the RBI went to someone we like.
On the offensive side, the Mariners had a bunch of fun today. All told, the team touched the Cubs for seventeen hits and three walks. Mike Zunino kicked off the scoring with a home run in the second inning.
I haven’t seen any video yet, but from the Cubs’ announcer’s description Tyler Smith was robbed of a home run in sixth inning. Later in the sixth, Guillermo Heredia worked an impressive twelve-pitch walk out of Koji Uehara.
The top of the ninth inning is when the real fun started. Ben Gamel led off with a double to right field and scored on Boog Powell’s single. Tyler Marlette followed with a single and was rewarded for his hit by being removed from the game in favor of pinch runner Ian Miller. With Daniel Vogelbach at the plate, Powell and Miller pulled off a double steal. Chicago catcher Carlos Corporan threw terribly to third, allowing Powell to score. and Vogelbach ultimately drew a walk. With one out and Zach Shank at the plate, Miller stole third. Shank followed with a single that easily scored Miller. Nevin Ashley singled Vogelbach to third and Shank to second. The Cubs, afraid of the Mariner’s offensive prowess, brought in James Pugliese from the bullpen, who promptly balked, scoring Vogelbach for the Mariner’s eight and final run of the game.
Spring Training may be meaningless in terms of predicting how the regular season will play out. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. If we only watch our team when we think they will win championships, none of us would have watched much of the Mariners over the last decade or so. The fun of base hits and stolen bases and converting those into runs; the excitement over a deep fly ball; the awe of watching spectacular defensive plays - these are all reasons we watch baseball. We love to see insanely athletic achievements we can only dream about doing ourselves. The outcomes of these games are meaningless, yes. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them.
Beating last year’s champions is definitely fun, even if the bragging rights only last for a day.