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If we didn’t see it, it didn’t happen: Mariners drop third game of spring to D-Backs, 9-1

Maybe it’s good that the revolution will not be televised

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners
Disappointed Midwestern Dad Is Disappointed
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners lost their third of four spring training games today, dropping this contest to the Diamondbacks 9-1. It’s spring training, it’s early, all the usual caveats apply, but it’d sure be nice to see that bats get going a little more consistently here. Hitters are usually behind pitchers developmentally in early spring action, but with a combined 13 runs hung on Mariners pitching in the past two games, that maxim is not holding true right this minute.

Today’s spring training game was not televised, which was a bummer for Mariners fans anxious to see youngsters George Kirby and Matt Brash. Kirby was up first and looked powerful in his first inning, sitting at 96-97 on the fastball and opening with a swinging strikeout of Josh VanMeter on three pitches, hitting 99 MPH at one point.

Another quick out followed with a David Peralta flyout on a curveball, but Christian Walker was able to fight off a similar curveball on his hands for a single. Kirby got tagged a little by some bad spring training luck when Jordan Luplow reached out and tapped a ball well off the plate into the wind blowing out to right field for a home run—with an xBA of just .460 and an exit velocity that didn’t break 100 MPH, it was the spring trainingest of homers.

Things went sideways for Kirby in his second inning of work, unfortunately. He started out well, rebounding from a 3-0 count to strike out Matt Davidson at 96 in on his hands. Two consecutive base hits (one on a changeup, one on a curveball) followed by a five-pitch walk to the nine-hole hitter, catcher Jose Herrera, loaded the bases. Kirby then dropped the ball on the mound, balking in a run, which sort of lets you know where his composure level was at that moment in time. To his credit, Kirby came back in that at-bat with the balk and struck out Josh VanMeter on a slider, but he then tried to get ahead of David Peralta with a first pitch fastball that wound up in the middle of the plate and was punished for a decidedly non-wind-aided homer: 107 EV, with a 1.000 xBA, and a 6-0 lead for the D-Backs.

That was the end of Kirby’s day. It was nice to see him mixing in a full complement of pitches, although the curveball in particular seemed hittable, and obviously the velo was eye-popping, although he did settle down into a consistent 95-96 after popping the glove around 98 in the first inning. Penn Murfee came in to clean up the inning, striking Christian Walker out on a slider well off the plate:

I love using that image from MLB Prospect Pipeline because Penn Murfee himself will be quick to tell you “I’m not a prospect.” Well, whatever Murfee is, he was good today: he came back to work another inning and disposed of the D-Backs quickly, with a lineout and two more strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the offense was again quiet. Facing Diamondbacks back-of-rotation starter Humberto Castellanos, the Mariners went down quietly in the first inning; a brief rally sparked by back-to-back singles by Adam Frazier and Abraham Toro in the second was quickly snuffed out by Jarred Kelenic grounding into a double play in a 2-0 count.

The Mariners burned another chance to score when Julio led off the second with a single (a casual (101.3 EV). What was really exciting was, after falling behind the MLB-experienced Castellanos 1-2, Julio was able to make an adjustment and redirect a 90 MPH slider in on his hands into left field.

He also stole second, and I am not exaggerating when I say this sequence might have been the most exciting offensive development for the Mariners all afternoon.

Here’s a little more of the good stuff:

The Mariners got their lone run of the day off new Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon. Haniger worked a walk and took second on a wild pitch, and Abraham Toro battled for eight pitches before hitting a well-struck line drive to left, allowing Haniger to score. The Mariners had a chance to do more here; Kelenic would have grounded out to end the inning but reached on a throwing error, bringing up Julio. Torey Louvello, managing this spring training game like it was a World Series Game Seven, summoned flamethrower Jesus Liranzo from the pen. Julio initially fell behind 1-2, chasing after 95-96, but was able to foul 97 and 98 straight back to keep the AB alive before grounding out to third on a well-located 97 MPH fastball in on his hands (102.6 EV). Threat over, and so was the Mariners scoring for the day.

But let’s sandwich that with some more good stuff. Matt Brash looked very sharp in his two innings of work. Like Kirby, he came out throwing 97-98 before settling in at 96 in his second inning of work. He worked his double-plus slider, as expected, but his first strikeout of the day came on a fastball with some nasty riding action:

Brash only recorded the one strikeout in his two innings of work, but he got a boatload of soft contact; only Peralta hit a ball with an EV of over 100 against him, a flyout, and half of the balls put in play against him were at an EV of 76 or lower. Here’s hoping next time Brash is on the mound it’ll be televised because I would like to see the baby.

Other things of note that happened today:

  • Paul Sewald made his spring debut. The fastball started out around 90 but crept up to 92 as his inning went on; he didn’t allow a hit, although he did walk Drew Ellis in a 3-1 count and was in a similar count against Herrera before getting him to pop up harmlessly. He also recorded two strikeouts.
  • Evan White also made his spring debut! He got hit by a pitch in his lone plate appearance, though. Bummer.
  • The game was mostly over anyway, but Devin Sweet gave up a three-run homer in his inning of work. He did record two strikeouts, though.
  • Mariners batters struck out 10 times today, but Mariners pitching struck out 12 Diamondbacks. At some point you would like to see the work that’s getting put in by the pitching staff get repaid by the offense.
  • Noelvi Marte had one good at-bat, where he worked a full count against major leaguer Matt Peacock, and one bad at-bat, where he got undressed in three pitches against Sean Poppen.
  • Luís Torrens hit the ball hard twice today, once for a single (108.8 EV), and once for a lineout at 105.6 EV. Bonus content alert for those of you who purchased this recap on Blu-Ray!
  • At one point, Matt Festa was pitching to former-Mariner-now-Diamondback Braden Bishop, who hit a comebacker to Festa that deflected to Donovan Walton, who then made a throwing error trying to get Bishop at first. All three of those guys played together coming up through the Mariners system and will probably have a good laugh about that later.
  • Mike Ford had the only Mariners extra-base hit today, a double against Peacock. For contrast, the Diamondbacks had four, and three of them were home runs. That is why the Mariners lost this game. #analysis

As the saying goes whenever anyone complains about the short porch in Yankee Stadium, both sides have a chance to take advantage of that short porch. The Mariners had the same field conditions to take advantage of as the D-Backs, but the offense, again, fell short. Here’s hoping we see the bats wake up after their long hibernation soon.