Spring Training this year is a good exercise for Mariners fans in preparing themselves for what promises to be a fairly rocky season: focus on the process, not the results. Sure, the Mariners lost today, but we got a Jarred Kelenic dinger and an Evan White almost-dinger in the process, so who really won? I mean, it was still the Rockies. They won the game. (By, I just realized, a score of 9-6, meaning the Mariners lost 6-9 for the second time is as many recaps as I’ve written. Not nice.)
The Rockies won the game on the back of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR home runs, as they warm up to return to the homer-happy confines of COORS. Justus Sheffield gave up the first home run of the day in the first inning when he made a mistake pitch to slugger Ryan McMahon:
Here's Ryan McMahon's home run off of Justus Sheffield's 92 mph fastball.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 2, 2020
Said Sheffield: "That one was touched. I tried to go away and it was middle-up. Right in the sweet spot. I seen it go, and just said, 'leave it.'" pic.twitter.com/BVEPTXUqXc
That home run would mar what was otherwise a solid outing from Justus, who went three innings, only surrendered one other hit besides the dinger (an infield hit, at that), didn’t walk anyone and struck out four. Other standout performances by relievers include Scott Boches, who walked a batter but struck out two, and staff writer Joe’s Favorite Lad Joey Gerber, who chewed through the Rockies lineup with 96 mph heat in a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Aaron Fletcher also gets a nod here for his scoreless inning, although he allowed a ground ball double and also hit a batter, escaping with a strikeout from power-hitting but strikeout-prone Rockies prospect Casey Golden and a double play.
The rest of the relievers didn’t fare as well. Wei-Yin Chen, replacing Justus in the fourth inning with the Mariners ahead 2-1, had a disastrous outing that included this sequence: walk, home run, walk, single, single, before a double play and a popout ended the inning. With the Rockies now ahead 4-2, Chen came back out for the fifth, allowing another home run and a single before being lifted for Zac Grotz, who immediately gave up a double to Sam Hilliard but was able to escape the inning without damage. Unfortunately, Grotz didn’t fare as well in the sixth, which he opened with a pretty tough sequence of his own: single, single, homer. Drew Butera’s three-run shot would put the Rockies up 8-4 and the game firmly into spring training territory. Eric Swanson would allow the ninth run of the game in his inning, which started off with a leadoff first-pitch double that later scored on an infield single. On the bright side, Swanson did collect two strikeouts of his own. Overall Mariners pitching struck out 12 batters, which is pretty good, while surrendering four walks, which isn’t as ideal but does put them on the right side of the C the Z equation, as Mariners batters only struck out eight times and walked five.
The Mariners were able to muster up six runs of their own, and it came from places where you love to see it. Kyle Seager had a three-hit day including an RBI double, and Evan White, making his return to the lineup after missing a few days with a groin pull, had an RBI single and this absolutely crushed double that just missed being a home run:
Here's Evan White's double off the wall in center. He admitted that he thought it was a homer off the bat. The wind did him no favors. pic.twitter.com/qbkS1dscNX— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 2, 2020
Continuing the theme of things you absolutely love to see, unless you are a Mets fan in which case why are you reading this, it’s called self-care, it’s Jarred Kelenic’s first home run of the spring:
Kelenic is still looked at by several scouts as hit over power, so this is a nice little reminder that he’s got some power, too. He’s also got swag: that’s Carson Vitale Kelenic is pointing at as he comes down the third base line, as Kelenic told him if he got a heater he was going to hit it out. Not lacking for confidence, our Jarred.
Our Jarred. That’s a nice thing to type. Thank u, Mets.