I like spring training. It’s fun, kind of goofy, and ultimately free of the burden of consequence. Sure it’s our first real chance to judge the teams ahead of a new season, but it’s also baseball for baseball’s sake. And I think that’s worth celebrating. BUT. Don’t let that distract you from the really meaningful thing about this afternoon’s game:
The Mariners won a baseball game!
After losing Monday, then tying Tuesday, the M’s came back on Thursday to win! I see a trend here, but I’m not sure what’s next. (super winning?)
The Mariners bats were quiet in the first two innings, the first six hitters failing to reach base. They did find a way to battle, though, forcing Guardians starter Cal Quantrill to toss 31 pitches during his two innings of work, averaging a competitive 5.16 pitches/PA. With the exception of J.P., who flew out on the second pitch he saw, the M’s never really let him get comfortable.
A standout pitching performance came from Logan Gilbert, who racked up six strikeouts in his three inning appearance. His slider was on today, with some nasty late movement while sitting at 90 and 91 mph on the radar gun.
Franmil more like Windmill Reyes pic.twitter.com/ya43Ygb6bQ— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 24, 2022
Logan’s also ditched his old eldritch horror of a changeup grip in order get some better command of it. As we mentioned in the game thread, his changeup had some really nasty vertical and horizontal break to it. If he can keep some of that while also spotting it where he wants it, his offspeed stuff could absolutely murder batters.
Logan Gilbert shelved his old changeup grip (below) because he could t command it. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” he said. More on him shortly in bold predictions, just filed. pic.twitter.com/iLhDxCASr7— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) March 24, 2022
While Gilbert’s 6 Ks in 3 innings was enough to earn him a feature in the Pitching Ninja feed, he did make a mistake to Daniel Johnson in the bottom of the second to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead. And then he came right back to strike out the next two batters he faced. Honestly though, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Gilbert’s a fastball pitcher, so a lot of guys are going to be sitting fastball on him. He just missed with one pitch, and sometimes giving up a bomb is the consequence.
That lead didn’t last long anyways, as my Toro agenda was justified with the switch-hitter leading off the third with a triple to left-center, then scoring off a Tom Murphy infield single, Murph’s first hit of the spring.
Speaking of first hits! Jarred Kelenic finally got himself above a .000 average with a nice little outfield single.
It wasn’t all good for the Mariners offensively, though. Suárez continued to struggle at the plate, striking out in all three of his ABs. Winker, Haniger, and France all failed to record a hit in any of their trips to the plate. J. P. managed to control the zone, however, working two walks out of three PAs. Suárez in particular didn’t look too comfortable on either side of the ball today, with routine plays almost eating him up at third.
In the sixth inning, Cleveland pulled back in front with what the box score would have you believe was a Franmil Reyes single to bring the speedy Myles Straw home from second. In reality, however, well...
This is normally the spot where we’d put a gif of the “play,” but looking directly at this one without the proper protective equipment would be bad for your health. So here is a handy visual metaphor:
Yeah. So after some “creative infielding,” the Guardians had “earned” a 2-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Julio kept on being Julio, making an impressive running catch in right field, in the sixth, then slapping a single in the eighth that put runners at the corners for recent acquisition Billy Hamilton. In Hamilton’s first AB since joining the Mariners he rocketed a double down the third baseline that brought in a gingerly-running Evan White* with Julio hot on his heels.
*White’s unhurried pace may have had something to do with his recent hip surgery. Hopefully he’s alright, but “we’ll see” is a little bit of a worrying comment.
Hate to see it but Evan White who tweaked his surgically repaired hip early in the game looked concerned as he left the field. "We'll see," he answered when asked if it was okay.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) March 24, 2022
After some exciting baseball, all that was left was for Washington native Wyatt Mills and “hippie cowboy” Penn Murfee to toss a couple shutout innings and secure the win for the Mariners.
With the probable opening day starters in today’s lineup, today’s game may have been a portent of things to come. If so, we can look forwards to another year of exciting and fascinating (if not always good) baseball.