Watching today’s game was like seeing two young rams face off against one another on the middle of a frozen pond. Both teams put a sloppy showing together, though the end result was a well-earned 7-7 tie. As this spring has surely shown, it’s much more interesting to see young players compete in meaningless games than older ones. A Mariners lineup of almost exclusively veterans didn’t portend great excitement, and sure enough it was the young and new blood who brought most of the interest today.
Some might argue it’s a bad thing to see Mike Leake giving up hard contact all day long against a team PEOPLE ARE SAYING could be a good trade fit for him. I would argue Leake was showcasing his ability to sacrifice for his new prospective teammates. And sacrifice he did, giving up five runs in 3.2 IP today. Leake looked sharp in the first inning, working quickly through the three veterans in San Diego’s lineup: Ian Kinsler, Eric Hosmer, and Manny Machado. His command evaporated quickly in the 2nd, issuing a rare walk, but escaped trouble with a deftly turned double play from Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon. He was less fortunate in the 3rd, as a slew of hard grounders found holes, followed by a clobbered double from Hosmer and a wild throw on a routine play where Tim Beckham looked indecisive in his throw. The trouble continued in the 4th as both Francisco Mejia and Manuel Margot took him deep, but a savvy backpick by Omar Narváez nabbed Ian Kinsler and closed the book on Leake.
The offense came in two forms: dingers and walks. Jake Fraley gave the Mariners the lead with an impressive inside-out swing to homer to left-center, showing his power may still be developing.
Fraley was narrowly caught stealing after drawing a walk in his 2nd PA in a play that would’ve likely been reviewed in season, Falling behind 0-2 with two outs in the 6th, he battled back to 2-2 before lacing a line drive down the left field line for a 2-RBI double to tie the game at 5-5.
Joining Fraley on the dinger train was Domingo Santana, who put the ball roughly the same spot with twice the hangtime.
The rest of the offense came largely as a result of the eight walks allowed by the Padres. In fact, in nearly any game where one team has a K/BB of 3/8 and the other of 7/2, you’d expect the latter to dominate the former, but unfortunately the hits came freely and fortuitously for San Diego, dooming the M’s to a tie. Some other notes...
- If you blinked you might’ve missed Dan Altavilla’s outing, as he worked quickly through a scoreless inning. He and Shawn Armstrong showed better command, although neither recorded a strikeout in their respective innings.
- The veterans were a mixed bag. Dee Gordon had a decent day, going 0-3 despite a couple sharply hit balls. He walked once again, bringing his 2019 ST total to four, matching his number from last year in fewer than half the PAs, and nearly halving his 2018 season total. That walk proved valuable when he was driven in on Santana’s moonshot.
- Kyle Seager and Jay Bruce each hit the ball well too, going 2-for-4 and 1-for-2 respectively. After running down a couple balls in right-center Bruce received praise defensively from the Padres announcing crew in the same tone of voice you’d use to praise a nephew’s paper mache art.
- On the flip side, Ichiro continues to look heartbreakingly dreadful. I will watch the man play baseball anywhere, anytime, but it will truly be difficult to envision a happy conclusion unless Suzuki’s season on the roster ends with the final out of Game 2 this year.
- Less emotionally crushing but more imminently important, Edwin Encarnacíon has also looked rusty. After three at-bats where he swung like a man unaware that the ball could be pitched on the outer half of the plate, he stung a ball on a line into left field. Encarnacíon was shaking his head with mild annoyance as he was pinch-run for, knowing he’d only gotten the end of the bat, so hopefully that rust will wear off soon.
- Ian Miller pinch-ran for Johnny Adams in the 8th after Adams (who’d replaced Dee Gordon at second) walked against a hopelessly wild Robert Stock. Perhaps recognizing Miller’s schtick after 28.1 IP in the PCL in 2018, Stock picked over three times in a row. Finally delivering to the plate, Stock was high with a 98-mph fastball, but Miller stole second on the pitch safely all the same. Stock’s wild pitches led the majority of the Mariners’ comeback, but it started with that.
- Justin Dunn was one strike shy of securing a victory, but Owen Miller guessed right on a 3-2 fastball with two down in the 9th and tied the ballgame on a homer to left, spoiling an otherwise impressive outing. Dunn has struggled against lefties, but showed an impressive back foot slider to ring up Justin Lopez in the 8th.