In honor of International Women’s Day, I am giving myself the gift of writing the briefest of recaps about the Mariners’ 10-0 loss to Cleveland. Trust me, you’ll want this to be over as quickly as I do. Unfortunately, today was a nine-inning game, so there’s still a lot of ground to cover.
Let’s start with the Cleveland pitching. Cleveland gets a ton of recognition for their pitching development, and today showed why.
Cleveland starter Zach Plesac: Pick him up in your fantasy leagues. Plesac followed up a middling 2019 debut year with a strong 2020 and looked today like he’ll be carrying that momentum forward into 2021. His line over three innings: four strikeouts, five groundouts, two walks, one dropped popout, one hit (the unsinkable Dylan Moore).
Next up was Nick Wittgren. The Mariners actually made a fair amount of hard contact off the former Marlin, with Tom Murphy and Jake Fraley both getting robbed by strong defensive plays in Cleveland’s infield, and Taylor Trammell had the Mariners’ lone extra-base hit of the day, a double. That would unfortunately be the closest the Mariners came to scoring today. I told you it was a grim recap! Here, have a look at TT’s double. You’ll want to remember this for later.
The only other Cleveland pitcher the Mariners really got to was Phil Maton, who started off by walking Jake Fraley before giving up a line drive single to Julio. Unfortunately Fraley decided to steal (?) third base (??) and was thrown out, and then Jack Reinheimer hit into a double play, so that threat fizzled quickly.
I don’t know if there’s some magic pitching dust Cleveland sprinkles over washed-up pitchers, but remember Bryan Shaw? Remember how bad he was for Seattle? He had a 1-2-3 inning where he struck out Julio, and got J.P. and Haniger to ground out, although not before he almost hit Haniger in the head. I would have been in my car en route to Goodyear, no lie. Also, Heath Hembree, who was last seen being Pretty Bad in Boston and is 32 years old to boot, positively ancient in baseball years, was pumping 95-97. He struck out Trammell swinging on 97 and got a groundout and a flyout for a clean inning.
How deep is Cleveland’s pitching staff? So deep that it wasn’t until the eighth inning that they rolled out Emmanuel Clase, casually painting the black with 100 mph and wiping away the Mariners B squad hitters like pure acetone on cheap nail polish.
For the Mariners pitching, well, the score tells you that it was sub-optimal, but it was also very weird. Kikuchi went three innings and was a little shaky in the first inning, starting the game with a four-pitch walk and issuing another walk in the inning before getting a double play to escape trouble:
Kikuchi gets out of bases loaded jam with the 1-0 cutter to Perez. pic.twitter.com/JiNqwSEq63— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) March 8, 2021
Kikuchi was sharper in his two subsequent innings, working a 1-2-3 inning in the second and only giving up one hit in the third. Unfortunately that one hit was a solo home run smoked off the bat of Yu Chang.
Here's Yu Chang's solo homer off of Yusei Kikuchi, which was supposedly a splitter that hung up in the zone. pic.twitter.com/e9z4kLUNZU— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 8, 2021
Kikuchi was again up at 96-97 on the gun, so that part is good, and really, one solo shot over three innings isn’t so bad for a second spring outing.
Also a bright spot for Mariner pitching today: Roenis Elías, who continued to make his case for a roster spot with a 1-2-3 inning. He got two strikeouts, one called and one swinging on a changeup.
Unfortunately things went downhill for Mariner pitching after that. Rafael Montero, acquired in a trade with Texas for young pitching prospect Jose Corniell, made his spring debut and started off well, striking out José Ramirez looking at 95 mph, giving up a first-pitch swinging double, and then coming back to strike out Chang on a changeup. After that though he walked Cesar Hernández and then Andres Giménez came up and...this happened.
Here's the Andres Gimenez inside-the-park homer where Taylor Trammell tried make a leaping grab at the wall. pic.twitter.com/VAKaHPAx8O— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 8, 2021
Maybe with replay that’s not an inside-the-parker? Is it fair for the third run to have scored when Servais had already signaled the inning was rolling over? Who knows, spring training is weird. Unfortunately that inning was compounded by a bad-luck inning from Joey Gerber, who got two quick outs (one on a swinging strikeout) but then gave up the dreaded two bloops and a blast to Ryan Lavarnway, whose name is apparently as much a pain for me to spell as it is for Mariners pitchers to have to face him. That was enough for Servais, who opted once again to roll the inning over.
The Mariners have apparently replaced their love of ties with a love of rollover innings, because that’s what happened again in the next inning. Brandon Brennan struggled, giving up two walks, two bad-luck base hits (a lollipop shot and an infield hit), and a two-RBI double in his inning. He also had a wild pitch, and while the inning had gotten off to a rough start for Brennan after the normally sure-handed Jordan Cowan misplayed a ball on the infield, it surely wasn’t the spring debut Brennan was hoping for.
Erik Swanson stemmed the tide with a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout of the fearsome Lavarnway, but that was a weakly inscribed chalk mark in the “good things” column for this game. Tomorrow the Mariners take on the Royals in another untelevised game so we’ll do this all again then (although hopefully not all of this, I really don’t want to recap another ten-run loss, please have another try at celebrating International Women’s Day for this lady recapper then).