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Shed goes Long, Félix goes short, Mariners fall 6-4

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The youths are alright, the catchers are all rough.

MLB: Spring Training-San Diego Padres at Seattle Mariners Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

An undefeated Spring campaign concluded today as the Mariners fell 6-4 to the Padres. Today was an excellent example of the type of game that 2019 may be rife with: good process over good results, and a whole mess of youngsters.

Catch up on the action blow-by-blow in the game thread here.

Working exclusively from the stretch, Félix Hernández opened the day with a surprisingly sharp first inning, showing good bite on his curveball, late break on his change-up, and more passable velocity. He got a scoreless inning while working around a Shed Long error on a slow roller to first, including this strikeout.

Classic Change
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The word in the stadium was positive as well, as both Jerry Dipoto (on the broadcast later) and in-stadium sources confirmed.

The King would scuffle in the second inning thanks to a conglomerate of the Spring’s finest, including...

  1. Félix picking up a slow roller that was almost assuredly foul only to have it ruled (unreviewably) fair.
  2. A chopper up the middle scuffing off Félix’s glove and turning a double play ball into an RBI single.
  3. A change-up running more than Omar Narváez expected, leading to a passed ball and a run scoring.

Félix would leave with four runs to his name despite no walks or hard contact allowed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the runs weren’t his fault, but the “shit happens” mood from The King seemed to be shared by Scott Servais and the entire infield, with chuckles all around as he reached his pitch count and was pulled in the second. It was a competitive outing, and that’s more encouraging than anything we’ve seen in a while from him.

His offense put the pressure on the Friars, starting with leadoff man Shed Long (aka The Cool Shed) joining Mitch Haniger (aka The Tool Shed) in the HR column this spring.

Clobbered. Bryan Mitchell isn’t great shakes, because the Padres somehow built the world’s greatest farm system out of wrists and biceps but no UCLs, but that’s a 94-96 mph fastball being relocated halfway up the batter’s eye and making up for his 1st inning miscue.

A parade of relievers followed, including...

  • Ryan Garton, who allowed a single to Franchy Cordero to cash in Félix’s final run.
  • Cory Gearrin, who froze Padres prospect Austin Allen on this running fastball en route to a scoreless inning (more on Gearrin Monday):
ROOT / Kate Preusser
  • Hunter Strickland worked efficiently, going 1-2-3 and looking more like his 2015-to-pre-punch-2018 self.
  • Roenis Elías took the loss despite breaking out some of the best stuff I’d seen him throw. His arm slot appeared closer to his past form, and his calling-card curveball was in fine form. He also got a nice swinging K on a 3-2 change-up, which he was visibly fired up about. Unfortunately, his command wavered, and multiple walks, as well as a shoddy block by then-catcher Austin Nola, lead to two runs scoring. Between Narváez’s heel-scuffle and Nola’s shoddy block of a ball right in front of him, the catchers did not cover themselves in defensive glory today.
  • Both Brandon Brennan and Gerson Bautista made their Mariners Spring debuts. Each were as advertised - Brennan got a pair of grounders, though was forced to work around a sure double-play ball being muffed by Tim Lopes.
  • Bautista was as good as he’s ever looked, hitting 99 according to in-stadium sources while displaying added sink in addition to the significant run his fastball has often had. Whether that’s the result of adjustments or simply him on a good day, it was fun to watch him melt San Diego’s prospects like butter.
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Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t quite put enough in sequence. In the 4th inning, Tim Beckham and Domingo Santana put good wood on the ball to lead off the inning, but Omar Narváez popped out. Daniel Vogelbach followed with a well-struck liner right at the left fielder. Dom Thompson-Williams worked a walk and Kristopher Negrón redirected a fastball right back up the middle for two RBIs. Eric Filia fell behind 0-2 on a pair of curveballs from the lefty Jerry Keel, but slapped a third on a line to left to load the bases once more. DTW and Negrón both took overly aggressive turns, but narrowly made it back to their bases, bringing up Braden Bishop. DTW would subsequently take home on an ill-advised backpick attempt to first by Padres catching prospect Francisco Mejia, but Braden Bishop grounded out to end the threat.

Seattle would threaten twice more - first with OF Jake Fraley reaching second on a single and a Dylan Moore HBP in the 6th, but he was cut down on a curious double steal. The second came in the 8th, when Evan White hit a rocket to right-center that Jacob Scavuzzo couldn’t handle but was left stranded.

By the final inning, we’d reached mid-spring training form.

What is a farm system but a beer pyramid with dreams
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I was disappointed by the catching defense - it’s early, but there’s clearly much to learn for Narváez and co. - but the rest of the team showed sparks that are exactly what you want to see on a team building for the future. We’ll be back tomorrow for a sadly un-televised game that will hopefully feature Justus Sheffield’s Spring debut, and then on Monday for Yusei Kikuchi’s Spring debut, which will be televised, same time, same place.