If Yusei Kikuchi was scared, he didn’t show it. The ghosts had taken over Seattle’s bullpen, of that there was no doubt.
Despite the, well, specter of a spectral invasion, he was undeterred, putting together his best outing of the spring against a Milwaukee Brewers club that was admittedly running its B squad out. Though the Seattle Mariners spent most of today’s seven inning scrimmage stifled at the plate, Kikuchi kept the club in the game admirably with six strikeouts in 3.1 innings. His fastball comfortably sat at 95 mph and while he worked long counts several times, he avoided putting himself in un-winnable situations with just a single free pass. More importantly, he had warded the warmup area of its ectoplasmic epidemic with the help of a highly technical device some mistook for a simple instrument of yard recreation.
Yusei Kikuchi.— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) March 14, 2021
Badminton All Star. pic.twitter.com/xpfq3tJJ3Y
When he was relieved in the fourth, a runner was on first after a near-double play ball that a duo slicker than Dylan Moore and Ty France might’ve turned. Instead, one out, a runner on first, and a disappointing outing for sidearmer Wyatt Mills, who missed few bats, yielding back to back doubles, a walk, and a sharp single before finally securing a strikeout and groundout to dig the M’s a 3-0 hole in the 4th.
Seattle didn’t manufacture a baserunner until the 3rd, before a trio of free passes to Sam Haggerty, Mitch Haniger, and Dylan Moore loaded the bases to no avail, and they were hitless until a Luis Torrens single in the 4th. It had all the signs of a redux on last night’s suboptimal offensive affair until an auspicious 5th.
I do not think 2013 Mariners 5th round draftee Jack Reinheimer will make the M’s opening day roster, but given the trajectory of former Seattle minor league signees née draftees with a UTIL profile and a good contact profile (where art thou, Tim Lopes), a slightly poppier spring than expected at least creates a bookmark worth checking in on when Tacoma gets underway in May. His solo homer today uncorked a deluge of scoring that was all Seattle needed to banish Milwaukee. Five runs crossed the plate in the 5th, led by a series of seeing-eye singles from Mitch Haniger, Dylan Moore, and Ty France, driven in with a bases-clearing double of a similarly sighted style from Kyle Lewis.
We’ve had a decent amount of debate on which version of Kyle Lewis is ultimately best suited for sustained success - fastball ambushing a la George Springer style vs. spray with your natural power Kyle Lewis - and this was a double in favor of the latter. A sac fly by Torrens and a bloop single by Evan White stretched the lead to five and that was narrowly enough.
It was a tough day for Taylor Trammell and Sam Haggerty at the dish, who are both battling for roster spots, and have to show very significant improvement in a small window of time to outdo their competition.
As for the bullpen, beyond Mills, things were fairly sharp. Rafael Montero didn’t overpower, but worked a quick 1-2-3 inning, while Kendall Graveman made a sharp outing at last. Keynan Middleton allowed a dinger to 12th century antihero Jacob Nottingham, but continued looking healthy at least, and Joey Gerber lost his hat but not his head as he continued to show his velocity is back after a disappointing 2020 debut.
Joey Gerber, game-ending K. Blowing away batters and blowing his own hat off his head. pic.twitter.com/An2GWfB9HI— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 14, 2021
Ghosts vanquished, Brew Crew subdued.