Today the Mariners played a split-squad Cleveland team and politely refrained from trotting out too many of their regulars. After a hot start, the bats went quiet and two Mariners pitching prospects had rough days on the mound, resulting in a loss in the weird airplane graveyard of Goodyear AZ. At least Mike Leake had a good day, despite John’s incessant attempts to trade him.
The Mariners kicked off the scoring in the second against Cleveland’s Adam Plutko, who recorded an FIP over 6 in 70-plus innings last year. Daniel Vogelbach got into a 3-1 count and then hit his first Vogelbomb of the spring:
Kyle Lewis followed that up with a bloop double, and a HBP and line drive base hit from David Freitas loaded the bases. Plutko then hit Shed Long, cementing him as our enemy, forcing in a run. Tim Beckham blooped in a base hit scoring a run, although Freitas missed Chris Prieto’s stop sign and was caught between third and home. Santana followed up with his second hit of the day, the first being a ringing double, pushing the Mariners lead to 5-0. That would be all the Mariners offense for the day, though, and the bullpen would let the game slip away in the later innings.
Something I learned on the broadcast today is Mike Leake apparently moves infielders around depending on what pitch he’s throwing and who the batter is, which seems like a baller move, and also 99% more effort than I imagined Mike Leake expending on any given play. Former ASU Sun Devil Leake was pitching in front of an especially enthusiastic crowd today consisting of family and friends who live near Goodyear, which John cannot resist pointing out is just a five-hour drive from San Diego, and he acquitted himself well in front of his semi-hometown crowd. with a scoreless three innings in which he struck out three, walked none, and allowed just one hit.
Hunter Strickland pitched a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts; his fastball hit 96. Fellow flamethrower Gerson Bautista threw his fastball harder, but with worse command. He was able to land his slider for strikes, though, and used it to strike out old friend Leonys Martin before walking his next batter. A nice double play on a line drive right at Dylan Moore ended the inning, though.
Things went downhill in the pitching column after that. After getting a quick groundout, Matt Festa got hit hard, giving up back-to-back triples in spacious Goodyear Park before rebounding to strike out his final two batters. In the next inning, Brandon Brennan struggled to throw strikes. He walked a batter, threw a wild pitch, and surrendered a three-run home run to put Cleveland ahead 6-5. Brennan has to stick on the 25-man all year or be offered back to his original club, although with a few more outings like this, the Rockies might decline the offer. Zac Grotz, who is apparently a Mariner?, came in and cleaned up the mess, getting a quick groundout to end the inning. Grotz is a former Met, because the Mariners love nothing more than a Mets pitching castoff, but was originally drafted by the Astros out of NAIA Embry-Riddle before being released. He was then a Dodger, but was released, and went to indy ball for two years before catching on with the Mets, which is why he’s 26 but has never played above A ball. Ryan Garton also struggled, hitting one batter, almost hitting a second, and giving up a long double, but narrowly escaped without any damage.
Outside of the one inning explosion, the Mariners bats were pretty unimpressive today, leaving seven men on base. One bright spot is prospect Joseph Rosa, a 21-year-old who hasn’t played above A ball due to injury, who collected two extra-base hits and hit the ball with authority. Joey just scraped onto our top prospects list at #50, so it’s good to see him get the bat going.
The Mariners will try to rebound tomorrow against the White Sox. The game is on TV, but more importantly, the game is at Peoria, so field reporter/scout/teammate cheerleader Julio Rodriguez will theoretically be back in attendance.