Today was supposed to be James Paxton’s spring debut, but as most of you know, that wasn’t the case. We do have some further info on Paxton: per Dipoto on Jon Morosi’s Sirius XM show, the Mariners are still trying to secure Pax’s 2021 work visa, which is why he hasn’t pitched in any official Cactus League games. The D-Backs had some news of their own, regarding the pitcher who was scheduled to be first out of Arizona’s pen today:
Diamondbacks right-hander Jon Duplantier cut his finger last night "trying to put his razor together," per Torey Lovullo, and won't pitch today. The Diamondbacks don't think it'll linger.— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) March 15, 2021
Truly the spring of Guys Being Dudes.
Stepping in to fill Pax’s shoes was Ljay Newsome, who pitched well over 3.2 innings (why not let him go all four, though?). Ljay only gave up one run, and it really wasn’t his fault—it came after a fly ball that Trammell should have corralled but fell down trying to get to (maybe the grass was still slick from some AZ rain, or maybe TT got a spike caught trying to make a last-minute adjustment against the wind?) put Tim Locastro on third, and then Christian Walker sacrificed him home. Other than that, though, Ljay was very good; 8/13 batters received first-pitch strikes, and of those 13 batters, four found themselves in 0-2 counts at some point. Most impressively, Ljay “won” the 1-1 count 4 out of 5 times, getting a strike or out on the next pitch, something emphasized by the Mariners.
Despite Trammell’s adventures in fielding leading to the one run charged to Newsome, it should be pointed out he also did this:
Newsome also got some help from Sam Haggerty, aka Ham Snaggerty, who showed some hops:
Trammell was also responsible for the only serious Mariners threat against Arizona starter Taylor Widener, who finished his day with five strikeouts and no runs, but it could have been otherwise:
I feel like I type some variation of “the Mariners threatened but failed to score” or “again the Mariners bats were slow to get going” in every single one of these recaps but...offense has been really, really slow for the Mariners this spring. The team currently ranks 25th in runs scored this spring in all of baseball despite playing in the Offensive Happy Fun Ball of the desert. Maybe they taunted Happy Fun Ball?
Anthony Misiewicz, or Tony Sandwiches, came out to finish Newsome’s inning, and I was expecting to see him in the 5th, but instead it was Yohan Ramírez out to make his spring debut. The good: Ramírez’s fastball reportedly sat at 95, not bad for a first outing. The bad: two hit batters, a walk, two wild pitches, two runs scored. Ramírez consistently worked behind batters in counts, and the one time he was ahead, he hit Josh VanMeter. It was about as much a sea change from the tightly-controlled Newsome as you could have.
J.T. Chargois, most recently of the Rakuten Eagles, made his Mariners debut after Yohan and surrendered a home run to the first batter he saw, Christian Walker, who punished a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall to make in 4-0 Arizona. Chargois recovered to get a couple of strikeouts (he also gave up a base hit and a walk) to end the inning without further damage; we’ll chalk this up to spring jitters and hope for a better outing next time. Aaron Fletcher had a good outing, giving up just one ground ball single while striking out two. Gerson Bautista retired Juniel Querecuto, brother of Mariners prospect Juan, and Domingo Leyba on three pitches before struggling; he issued a walk to Jose Herrera and then fell behind the next batter 3-0 before giving up some hard contact to right center. Bishop dived for the line drive and missed, but Julio was there to back up the play and got the ball to Walton, who threw a seed to home to nail Herrera trying to score from first.
Paul Sewald, the final Mariner pitcher on the bump today, wasn’t as fortunate as Bautista despite a similarly excellent defensive play (a sliding catch by Luis Liberato), loading the bases with a line drive single, a walk, and an infield base hit. After striking out Luis Perdomo looking it seemed like Sewald might escape cleanly, but a line drive off the bat of Querecuteo scored two to stretch Arizona’s lead to 6-2, effectively putting the game out of reach for the M’s second line.
The Mariners played their starters later than usual for the nine-inning contest, and the starters were able to scrape a couple of runs off Corbin Martin in the 6th, who issued back-to-back walks to start the inning to Trammell and Lewis, and then a sac fly from Eric Filia (okay so they weren’t all starters) and a base hit for J.P. Crawford pushed across the Mariners first two runs of the day. Unfortunately the second-liners weren’t able to do anything against Martin in his second inning of work (although Julio did work yet another walk against an experienced MLB pitcher, another good sign), nor against any of the other Diamondbacks pitchers.
To end this recap on a positive note: emptier ballparks mean you can hear a lot more of the crowd, and while that’s often a bummer (yes, sir, I’m sure the minor-league pitcher who’s been out of competition for a year would THROW STRIKES if he could), today it resulted in an adorable appearance by the Seager children cheering for “Daddy” on the broadcast.
Boo, happy fun ball, but Hooray, Seagers.