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Arizona two-step proves disappointing sequel, Mariners drop both halves of split-squad

Several prospects show nicely in the spring training special.

Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Split squad games are tricky enough to cover without team-centric broadcasts of either game, but today offered a double-barreled challenge. Fortunately, between the Chicago White Sox feed and Seattle’s radio broadcast online, we got a decent bead on the two one-run losses.

Seattle loses 5-4 to the Giants

This game began with Logan Gilbert on the hill, moving efficiently through the top of the Giants order, which features the 4-5 low-end starting or reasonable MLB bench caliber players in San Francisco’s lineup today. Gilbert reportedly sat 92-95 with ease in two scoreless innings as well as 81-82 on the slider and 73 on the curveball, yielding only one hit on a well-placed chopper on a single and just a mild scare on a fly ball to the gap that Jarred Kelenic raced down. Gilbert wasn’t as sharp as he’s been at times with his off-speed, which led to 28 pitches (17 strikes) in his two innings, a slight degree of inefficiency that frustrated him postgame.

After Carl Edwards Jr. worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in the 3rd, Seattle took the lead on aggressive baserunning that has featured prominently this spring and figures to track forward into the season. Shed Long stole second base following a single, then scored on a line drive from J.P. Crawford, though the inning ended when Crawford was caught out between first and second. Long had a nice day, doubling in the fifth inning as well to drive in Braden Bishop and continuing to look comfortable at second base.

On the pitching end, both Sam Delaplane and Yohan Ramirez had mostly positive outings. Delaplane worked around a leadoff single to retire three ~big leaguers, including a strikeout. Ramirez was something like effectively wild, though a strikeout of Yolmer Sanchez put the man he’d walked before on third base after catcher Joe Odom’s throw got into the outfield. That meant Rob Brantly’s hit in the next PA drove in a run easily, leaving Ramirez to complete his three strikeout inning with a run as a blemish. Young Dayeison Arias got some run as well, with a run allowed despite a pair of strikeouts as well. Unfortunately, lefty Aaron Fletcher lost his handle in the ninth, allowing a single, two HBPs, and a walk to give the lead to San Fran in the ninth.

The game had a fun backdrop, as brothers Braden Bishop and Hunter Bishop got to share the field (on opposite sides) for what was likely the first time in many years - if ever - outside of family rec games.

Seattle loses 6-5 to the White Sox

This time, there was video. Despite the ChiSox announcers calling him Luh-zhay, Ljay Newsome, worked speedily through the A-lineup for Chicago. He hit his spots nicely, showing good run on his fastball, and looked rejuvenated after fading down the stretch a shade last year.

Like his 2019 Arkansas teammate, Gilbert, Newsome got two scoreless innings, working at a fervent clip and showing reasonable bite on his slider for good measure. One of the major issues for Newsome is making sure he handles hitters from both sides, but his command of his fastball on both sides of the plate served him well today. Only Luis Robert struck the ball well, as he ran his fastball in on the hands of Jose Abreu, who was left shaking his hands in pain after a jam-shot bloop single.

Most of the rest of the pitching staff was stellar. Penn Murfee showed a sharp breaking ball and deceptive fastball for a couple strikeouts and several whiffs, including hitting his spot on this heater.

Gerson Bautista and Jack Anderson each sliced through their innings as well, keeping the White Sox off balance going from 97-100 mph fastballs in the fifth inning to submarine upper-80s and low-70s breaking balls like this one in the sixth.

The game got away late, with Darin Gillies, Louis Head, and Jake Haberer each struggling with command and giving up runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. But the offense that kept the Mariners in the game included a couple huge blasts. After Donavan Walton laced a triple in the third, and outran Luis Robert’s arm to score on a Jake Fraley sac fly, Fraley and another 2019 Arkansas Traveler went yard. First it was Cal Raleigh, turning around a 97 mph fastball down main street to show the Beef Boy power.

Then Fraley decided to one up him, taking a Tayron Guerrero fastball that clocked in at 101 (at the knees, though in the middle of the plate) and relocating it on the right-center field berm.

Seeing Fraley healthy more than anything is the most promising thing he can showcase this spring, as he has the chance to get full-time reps in Mitch Haniger’s absence. Fraley has looked speedy and rangy in the outfield already as well, and showcasing the ability to put a charge on a pitch like this is another piece of showing the skill to not be overmatched against big leaguers when the lights flip on for real.