Just as a reminder: I watched one full week of Cactus League games while in Arizona and saw them win once. Since I returned, the Mariners are 5-0. So I guess maybe the trick is for me to live out of state? Who wants to offer me a room for the season?
Today the Mariners played a split-squad game, with Marco Gonzales helming the game against the Angels and Casey Lawrence getting the nod against the Athletics. Let’s start with the radio-only Athletics game. Casey Lawrence again turned in a strong spring outing, although he doesn’t get the win because pitcher wins are stupid. Lawrence went four innings of two-hit ball with no walks, no runs, and struck out four. He lowers his spring ERA to 0.75 with the outing. If you haven’t read it, Shannon Drayer had this nice piece the other day about how Lawrence is trying to play with his timing and study some of his teammates to add a new wrinkle to his game. He was followed by two strong innings from Shawn Armstrong, another two from recently re-acquired Anthony Misiewicz (who gave up one run on a sac fly after a walk/steal/pickoff error let the runner reach third), and then Art Warren came on for the save, walking his first batter but then getting a strikeout and double play for his second save of the spring. Offense was a little thin on the ground, with the Mariners managing to scratch across just one run in eight innings. In the 9th, however, the M’s were able to get to lefty Ryan Buchter when they loaded the bases off singles from prospects Joe DeCarlo and Anthony Jimenez and a walk from Mike Marjama. Zach Vincej, whose bat has heated up lately, then cleared the bases with a triple. Fun fact: both parts of the Ryon Healy trade played in this game for the A’s, with Alexander Campos taking over as a ninth-inning defensive replacement, and Emilio Pagan (RIP) hurling one inning of no-hit ball.
Speaking of Ryon Healy, he made his Spring Training debut in the televised portion of the split-squad game, and quickly showed that his hand injury isn’t hampering him in the least, as he smoked the two balls he put in play. The official scorer awarded an error on the first ball he put in play, but I think this is a pretty tough error:
That thing had some mustard on it. Healy also ripped an RBI double down the left-field line. The Angels had far from their A-squad today, which perhaps explains the disparity in offense, as the Mariners jumped on minor-leaguer John Lamb for five runs in just three innings. Both Mike Zunino and Daniel Vogelbach collected big-boy HRs off him:
I’m so happy for Vogey I’ll allow the pun. Guess who else is happy for Vogey?
Kyle Seager also got in on the home run parade, with his first of the season off Noe Ramirez. The Mariners also added another run when Ramirez hit Braden Bishop with a pitch, who then stole second, and then made it all the way home on a passed ball.
Meanwhile, the Angels B-squad (plus Simmons and Pujols) were unable to summon any offense against Mariners pitching. Marco Gonzales turned in his best outing of the spring, showing no lingering effects from his hand injury. He went five and two-thirds of one-hit, no-run ball, striking out three and allowing just one free pass. It was an especially impressive outing considering the zone was relatively small today and there were several balls on the edge that didn’t go in Marco’s favor. Marco mixed his fastball, cutter, change and even a few well-placed curveballs and looked sharp on his location—when he missed, it generally wasn’t by much, and he generated a lot of weak contact and soft grounders (9 groundouts to just one in the air). The infield defense helped him out too, with Seager, Segura, and Beckham (!) all turning in strong defensive plays.
Marco was followed by Juan Nicasio, who came in for the last out of the sixth; James Pazos, who had an encouraging two innings of work with two strikeouts; and David Phelps, none of whom allowed more than a single hit. While Mariner pitching only struck out six (vs. the Angels, who struck out 10), they posted efficient innings, keeping the ball on the ground and letting the defense do the work. Good job, guys. Go enjoy some green beer, you earned it.
BONUS SCHADENFREUDE CONTENT:
FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE GAME: Albert Pujols playing first base, poorly. Pujols mishandled pickoff attempts and showed all the range of a Model-T, most notably in this instance:
“Here, old man, don’t hurt yourself by trying to bend down.”