Today was a beautiful, sunny day in Peoria and a rare televised spring training game here in Seattle, where it is gray and overcast, so of course the Mariners biffed it, losing to what I’d say is the Royals “B” lineup, except I just realized I’m not sure I could recognize the Royals’ A lineup vs. their B lineup. It was good to see long-tenured Royal Salvador Perez back out there, making a DH start as he continues to work his way back from TJ surgery last season.
The best part of the day from the Mariners’ POV was the three innings turned in by Marco Gonzales. Fresh off the heels of a first spring appearance where he surrendered five runs and couldn’t clear the first inning, unable to command any of his pitches, Marco made the poor Kansas City lineup pay for that start. It looked like today would be another rough start when Marco gave up a double on the first pitch to newly-acquired ex-Yankee Ryan McBroom, but Marco pulled himself together quickly, getting two easy flyouts from Hunter Dozier and Perez and striking out Jorge Soler on three pitches to end the inning. He would go on to retire the next six batters he faced, dismissing the back 2⁄3 of the Royals lineup with the following: a strikeout, four easy air outs, and a groundout. As he dispatched Soler on three pitches, Marco did the same to Khalil Lee for his second strikeout, ending with this sword:
The Royals’ 2019 Rule 5 pick, Stephen Woods Jr., made the start for Kansas City, but left in the first inning after three walks with what was later called a left ankle sprain. The Mariners got to his replacement, sidearmer Tim Hill, scoring three runs on singles by Carlos Gonzalez and J.P. Crawford over two innings.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off for the Mariners in the fifth. Nick Margevicius worked a clean fourth and got two more outs in the fifth before being lifted for Art Warren, who came on to get the final out and try to strand Gabriel Cancel, who had reached on an infield hit, at first. [NARRATOR: He would not be able to get the final out.] Warren struggled with command, showing good velocity on his fastball (95-97) but struggling to control it, along with floating his curveball and lacking feel for his slider. Warren walked two and hit Perez with a pitch, forcing in a run. He wasn’t helped out on the field, either, with a stolen base and a cross-up leading to a passed ball for Tom Murphy, moving the runner to third. With the bases still loaded, J.P. Crawford fielded a softly-hit ground ball and tossed to second instead of taking the out at first, which could have ended the inning; later he made an error on another ball that could have ended the inning, allowing two more runs to score. Warren isn’t free from fault, however, having given up a two-run double to Lee the batter before. Overall, it was a disasterpiece of an inning, and at the end of it, instead of the Mariners leading 3-0, they trailed 6-3.
The Mariners would eventually tie the game, getting two runs back on a home run from Collin Cowgill and an RBI single from Joe Odom. Odom, an incredibly hard worker, is known more for his excellent defense behind the plate than his bat, so it’s nice to see him ringing some bells this spring. However, in a phrase I’m sure will get a lot of use this season, the bullpen wasn’t able to close out the game.
Austin Taylor Guilbeau struck out the first two batters he faced and looked like he was about to cruise through his inning before running into trouble, giving up two runs on three straight hits. Dan Altavilla gave up a spring training special over the right field fence to Kyle Isbel for the Royals’ ninth run of the day and an un-fun end to a relatively un-fun spring training game on Leap Day—appropriate, considering the number of times this season Mariners fans will probably wish we could leap past this rebuilding year.