If you like your pitching less like five-star cuisine and more like a hearty breakfast—not flashy but solid and foundational—you’re going to want to find a replay of today’s game, stat. Marco Gonzales and Kyle Freeland went toe-to-toe over four thrillingly competent innings that featured, between the two, no runs on five hits, nine strikeouts, and no walks. Freeland, who averaged around 93-94 today, has a little more velocity than Marco, but neither are exactly marquee names despite consistently proven results. Maybe that’s why the broadcast booth, which featured both Rockies and Mariners commenters, was more of a mutual admiration society for both of these pitchers.
Kyle Freeland was able to work around a little traffic on the bases and some hard-hit balls. Dylan Moore had a double in the first featuring some classic Dylan Moore Getting Out Of The Box Shenanigans:
I joke, but that double had an EV of 107. Dylan Moore’s Slender Yet Powerful Hips remain undefeated (Mitch Haniger also hit a ball that came off the bat at 107, but unfortunately was caught for a lineout). Speaking of exit velocity, the highest of the day came off the bat of Julio Rodríguez, when he smoked a Kyle Freeland fastball into the gap at 111 mph that Rockies center fielder Chris Owings made a nice snag on. Too bad, because Taylor Trammell, who continues to make good things happen, had beat out an infield single right before him and would have scored easily. Instead the Mariners were turned away yet again. They had another chance in Freeland’s final inning when Cal Raleigh sent a sharp liner right back up the middle, but Crawford grounded into a double play to quell that threat.
Kyle Freeland: Good Pitcher
In a mirror image of Freeland’s first, Marco gave up one of his two hits on the day—a double to Trevor Story (102 mph EV), but also got two strikeouts. He settled into a groove over the next two innings, setting down the side in order each time: three groundouts, one flyout, and two more strikeouts, including coaxing this hideous swing from Garrett Hampson to end the third inning.
Marco’s only danger for the day came in his final inning of work, when Chris Owens, leading off the inning, hit a ball deep over the head of Jake Fraley in left. Fraley crashed into the outfield wall trying to track the ball and immediately crumpled to the ground, which was terrifying-looking, while Owens cruised into third. (Thankfully Fraley was able to get up and stay in the game, even coming up with a base hit later in the game, and Servais confirmed he will be just fine.)
Jake Fraley remained in the game after colliding with the left-field wall, then he was later pulled after his second at-bat.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 13, 2021
Scott Servais thinks he'll be fine and in tomorrow's lineup. pic.twitter.com/otZ38DAvix
That left Marco in a pickle, to which Marco said, no problem. Trevor Story attempted to sacrifice Owens home but wasn’t able to get quite enough of Marco’s 86 mph changeup, flying out weakly to a determined-looking Mitch Haniger. Blackmon then hit a curveball for an infield popout handled by Marmolejos, and then Marco pulled one last trick out of his wizard’s hat by freezing C.J. Cron for the final out of the inning, stranding the leadoff triple at third:
Beautiful. (Also nice frame there by Raleigh.)
The best thing that happened in the fifth was a Julio infield single. Jake Fraley followed that with a single (after a Marmolejos popout), and has raised his spring OPS to a whopping .670, not impressive until you realize what it was, like, five days ago. In the bottom half of the inning, Anthony Misiewicz was his usual perfectly competent bullpen self from last year; leaning on his cutter (50% of his pitches), sitting 92-94 with the fastball and only allowing one hit—which Cal Raleigh promptly erased by hosing Brendan Rodgers trying to steal second base. This was the frame where the Rockies snuck across their lone run—the aforementioned Rodgers single bringing Elias Diaz around to score after a Ty France throwing error had allowed Diaz to reach second.
Wholesale subs began with the start of the sixth inning; the Mariner bats were not able to accomplish anything in the top of the inning, but Casey Sadler came on and worked a clean frame, flashing his plus curveball for a couple of swinging strikeouts and another one looking. Sadler’s curve has turned into a very good pitch since he left the Pirates a couple years ago, and he needs it because he lives at 92-93 with the fastball. Every hitter he retired with it today was a current or former big-leaguer, though.
The Mariners were stifled yet again in the 7th, a familar refrain for the day. Feelgood story of the decade Daniel Bard was able to get JP Crawford and Taylor Trammell (though JP did manage to get a 99.6 exit velocity on his grounder before Julio froze at the sight of 98 mph right here:
To be fair to Julio, I’d have been hiding in the dugout, so I think he did pretty well.
Intriguing bullpen candidate (tm) Drew Steckenrider came on for the seventh, running his fastball up to 94 and working cleanly through four Rockies, the only blemish being a Jameson Hannah walk. Steckenrider’s fastball previously produced pretty elite results in Miami, but a down 2019 led to him being out of the majors entirely in 2020. One hopes Seattle’s PD staff helps him find that form again.
The bottom of the lineup’s struggles continued through the top of the 8th, although I’m not even sure you can call Dillon Thomas the bottom of the lineup, no offense to Dillon Thomas. Mychal Givens has not been particularly good in several years and yet carved through Marmolejos, Braden Bishop, and Thomas with little apparently difficulty. Fortunately, Will Vest made the bottom of the 8th quite enjoyable:
Rule 5 Draft selection Will Vest has said that his changeup is his best pitch.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 13, 2021
He put it on display with an impressive punchout to Eric Stamets to end the eighth inning. pic.twitter.com/tyvO1QqTx4
Vest’s pure stuff is outrageous; how that translates into the majors will be seen, but watching pitches like this will not get old, no matter what other results there are. Though his velocity isn’t the highest, peaking at 95, that changeup just plain ol’ falls off a table to hitters.
The 9th brought the last of the fireworks; first the Mariners were saved from shutout oblivion by a Jantzen Witte home run and a goofy pun:
But unfortunately yet another tie was not to be, as Greg Bird yanked a Matt Magill pitch juuuuust over the RF fence for the game winner and the Rockies trotted back to the clubhouse victorious.
Hi!— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 13, 2021
Here's a Greg Bird walk-off home run pic.twitter.com/bL9JjIhsFX
The Mariners are back at it again tomorrow, with Yusei Kikuchi on the mound. See you there!