If you didn’t catch tonight’s game, it was actually available in moving-picture form, with a stream directly on the Padres’ website. I watched it just in case there was anything worth making a very tiny gif of, which unfortunately, there wasn’t, really. Which is fine; this is the Spring Training life cycle. The games start out rough, as players emerge from their winter caverns blinking in the bright sunlight and misplaying balls for sun doubles; then peak around mid-spring when players have hit their strides and the top prospects are up and making noise and position battles are fiery contests; then interest tapers off again as those fun youngsters are sent back to the minors, positional battles end, and the flow of bullpen arms slows to a trickle as pitchers go deeper into games.
In his final spring tuneup, Marco Gonzales wasn’t his sharpest self, giving up six runs over five innings of work on nine hits, including a pair of doubles and a home run. But truthfully those numbers don’t matter as much as this one: Marco threw just shy of 90 pitches, six days before he’ll be taking the mound at T-Mobile Park for the Mariners home opener. After a rash of injuries swept across baseball over the past few days, the most important thing is staying healthy while getting one’s work in, and in that respect, at least, today’s game was a success.
Today’s game was also a success for the Seattle bullpen, with Joey Gerber, Erik Swanson, Rafael Montero, and Kendall Graveman all working scoreless innings with four strikeouts collected among them, giving the pitching staff a total of eight on the day.
Eight times was also how many times the lineup struck out, though, with Fraley and Moore each contributing two Ks, although Fraley also redeemed himself with a hit. The hitting star on the day was, as has been the case this spring, Ty France, who smacked a double against his former team and drove in a run on a fielder’s choice amidst some adventurous Padres infield defense. The other two Mariner runs were driven in on a single from Kyle Seager and an RBI groundout from J.P. Crawford. Of note: Tom Murphy scored after working a walk and then showing some good hustle in getting first to third on Fraley’s single, before being driven in by Crawford. That’s not the first time he’s done that this spring, either. I predict “Tom Murphy’s Deceptive Speed” to be a Thing we are talking about at some point this season.
Also in the positive column for tonight, although not necessarily the scoring column: Evan White had two walks, and his strikeout tonight came during a pretty good at-bat against Drew Pomeranz where he started out down 0-2, worked the count full, fouled off a lot of pitches, and then eventually struck out swinging. White has 10 strikeouts this spring in 41 ABs, which is an improvement on last spring, when he had almost as many in about half as many ABs
Fun fact I did not know courtesy of the Padres broadcast: J.P. Crawford leads all of Spring Training in walks, with 12 (fun fact the second: Fraley is tied for third). Unfortunately, he also doesn’t have an extra-base hit, which maybe wouldn’t be such a problem in a lineup with a little more thump, but Ty France is only one man. The Mariners had as many hits (3) as they had runs tonight, which is A Problem. Part of the especially hard spring training comedown this year is realizing this team...might not be very good. Obviously the lineup gets a boost when Kyle Lewis returns—he’s still being held out with the sore knee he banged against the outfield wall the other day, but the team says it’s precautionary—but with the Mariners running out their Opening Day-adjacent lineup, tonight’s game feels a little like a bummer of a preview of things to come.
Speaking of things to come, one thing that won’t be, at least to start the season:
Roster moves of interest .... Kelenic won't be on the opening day roster pic.twitter.com/8pKg3U5dFN— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 27, 2021
Forget celebrating Opening Day this year—I’ll be celebrating Service Time Manipulation Ends Day instead.