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Mariners lose Richie Shaffer revenge game, 16-3

The Mariners lose for the first time in five games and oh boy do they

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs
a different grand slam from a different day but same result
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

I’m trying to figure out who, other than those of us for whom it was a requirement, would watch the entirety of today’s Spring Training game—a sleepy Sunday blowout the Mariners were on the wrong side of. Someone ill on the couch, perhaps, or held in place by a slumbering baby? Killing time while on the job? Somewhere where one is enjoying the beer and company more than the game itself, certainly. An afternoon of watching baseball is certainly better than an afternoon of not watching baseball, but this is the kind of game it’s better to enjoy as baseball-adjacent. [Looks longingly in the direction of Husky stadium, where I wish I was sitting in the sunshine watching live baseball with some members of Mariners Twitter instead of recapping this lousy game.]

Cleveland jumped out to a big lead on Rob Whalen, who struggled mightily in his three innings of work (he’s only credited with two, but pitched to five batters in the third without recording an out), and things spiraled away from there as the Mariners’ B-squad failed to get much offense going against Foreigner cover band member Mike Clevinger. This game was too bad and boring for a blow-by-blow recap, so instead we’ll just run down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the ugly:

I do not like the Han Seago bobblehead. I do not like anything about it. It is not a good pun. It is not a good likeness (what is this skin color?). The hat looks wonky and out-of-place. But most importantly, it is not a good pun. I realize it’s hard to lose Taijuan Walker and his ready-made Star Wars pun name, but like...could we not, with this?

The bad:

Oh boy there is a lot to choose from here. As sharp as Rob Whalen looked in his last outing against Colorado’s A-team, today his curve just didn’t have the same bite. He struggled with command and control, striking out just two, hitting a batter, and walking three. Whalen consistently fell behind in counts, forcing him to get back over the plate, where he was tattooed for eight hits. On the bright side, he didn’t give up any home runs; most of those hits were on the ground, and he suffered some bad batted-ball luck. On the less-bright side, Whalen didn’t help his own case much, making two errant throws that eventually led to runs. Big Boy Bryan Bonnell took over when Whalen failed to record an out in the third and was a victim of the long ball, giving up two home runs, including a grand slam to Yan Gomes. (Spoiler alert: there are also highlights of Bonnell’s outing too. We’ll cover those later.)

As expected, the M’s B-squad wasn’t able to muster a ton of offense, striking out 10 times and grounding into three double plays. But no matter how much offense they were able to conjure up, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to overcome the 16 runs given up by the pitching—eight by Whalen, another two by Bonnell, and five by Ryan Cook, who absolutely couldn’t find the strike zone today. It was a very disappointing outing for Cook, whose injury comeback story has been one of the inspiring stories of spring. It’s worth pointing out, though, that although those runs are charged to Cook, two were scored on a wild pitch from 2017 draftee Seth Elledge and another two when Elledge gave up a single. Elledge also collected two strikeouts, though, and got to see some game action, leading us to:

The Good:

The non-imploding parts of the pitching staff looked good. Seth Elledge and Michael Koval both got innings. Koval looked impressive again, giving up a hit but otherwise working quickly to get his three outs. Juan Nicasio looked good in his inning of work, collecting two strikeouts, and Edwin Diaz also had a sharp inning. Nick Vincent wasn’t quite as sharp, allowing a hit and a walk, but righted course to register another scoreless inning to preserve his spring ERA of 0.

Other good things:

  • One side effect of Whalen having poor control today meant a lot of curveballs in the dirt. If there were any doubts about Mike Marjama’s defensive abilities, today should put those to rest. He was on top of everything, smothering balls in the dirt, keeping everything in front of him. The backup catcher competition seems to be over anyway with Freitas being optioned to minor league camp, but it was a reassuring sign for Marjama, who is not a career catcher, nonetheless.
  • Remember that good thing about Bryan Bonnell I promised? He had Edwin Encarnacion struck out on a nifty little fastball that nicked the inside corner. Much to everyone’s chagrin, it was called a ball. Instead of getting mad, Bonnell reached back and blew 95 past EE for strike three:

The 24-year-old Bonnell, acquired from Tampa Bay for international signing money, spent last season in Modesto, where he posted decent but not eye-popping numbers. If he can start doing this on the regular, he’ll be one to watch.

  • Ryon Healy took a walk, laying off a tricky slider from Clevinger down and away. As John pointed out on Twitter, the “Ryon Healy walk” klaxon might replace the “Mike Zunino walk” klaxon this year.
  • Zach Vincej continued his string of strong performances, making a nifty play in the infield and accounting for 23 of the Mariners’ run total today.
  • Casey Lawrence did an entire TV interview where he didn’t look at the camera once.

Like, not once. I’m not sure if they told him it was radio-only or didn’t tell him where the camera was or if he just really likes his profile. MYSTERIOUS.

  • Tuffy Gosewisch got a hit, much to the delight of those in the stands chanting TUF-FY.
  • Infield prospect Bryson Brigman made this nifty play:

Still, blah. There’s always at least one game like this each spring, and the Mariners were honestly kind of overdue for a blowout. They’ll look to get to the right side of the ledger tomorrow against actual hated rival the Angels (sorry, Padres).