The Mariners lost another spring training game today, again allowing the other team to hang a football score’s worth of runs off them while scoring only a few runs themselves (minus those scored by the Kids in garbage time). However, this game was still more watchable than yesterday’s game because...more things happened. Some of it was good and a lot more of it was bad, but things happened, at least, because no game that bats Julio Rodríguez leadoff and stations him in center field can ever be boring.
Julio’s performance is a microcosm of the highs-and-lows of today’s game. The good: Julio got things started with a leadoff double, ambushing a first-pitch fastball from former Mariner Drew Smyly. The bad: he then made a little baserunning oopsie when Ty France singled up the middle, diving into third rather than running home—a mistake that would prove to be costly after the rest of the top of the lineup (Winker, Haniger, and Suárez) made three straight outs. Ouch. But the double!
Julioooooo batting leadoff, wasting no time jumping on this first-pitch fastball from Drew Smyly for a double: pic.twitter.com/8JkyZXcm2J— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 30, 2022
More bad: Julio cold dropped a ball in the sun, and after his leadoff double, recorded three more strikeouts: one from Smyly, who refused to even say the word “fastball” to Julio; one from former Met Robert Gsellman, who painted 93 right on the outside corner; and one from the former weathered lighthouse of the AL West Jesse Chavez, who threw him nothing that wasn’t a yardstick away from Julio’s bat. He did redeem his outfield gaffe, however, with this nice running catch that ended what had been a big inning for the Cubs:
Julio makes up for his earlier miscue in the outfield by tracking down this tough fly ball to end the inning and keep the Cubs from extending their lead: pic.twitter.com/LAZdfDs2F7— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 30, 2022
Marco’s performance today was also marked by highs and lows. The highs: he looked sharp and efficient with his pitches early. Marco struck out seven batters, including this absolutely dastardly sequence in the second where he struck out the side:
Good morning, Jason Heyward:
Good afternoon, Ian Happ:
Good night, Clint Frazier:
But Marco also allowed nine hits over 4.2 innings, including three doubles and a home run—Seiya Suzuki’s first hit as a Cub, and a highlight you will doubtless see replayed ad nauseam everywhere you get your baseball news. As sharp as he looked early on, in the middle innings Marco was leaving pitches up in the zone and they were getting punished. By the end of the day Marco had given up only one fewer run (6) than he had strikeouts (7). The 85 pitches Marco threw probably signal the last of his Cactus League action in order to be ready for the opening series in (gulp) one week.
Marco’s batterymate for the day Cal Raleigh—who played the entire game—had two strikeouts of his own, but he did work a walk and hit a triple (a legit triple, not a spring training triple) and then scored on a balk to give the Mariners their first run of the day:
Jarred Kelenic doesn’t know what “duality” means so he just had himself a good game, collecting two singles and no strikeouts in his three at-bats. We love that for him (and for us).
Kelenic has worked a couple of nice at-bats today and been rewarded with a pair of base hits, including this solidly stroked one: pic.twitter.com/NtCBNvpSnA— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 30, 2022
That hit scored Mitch Haniger, who only had one hit and struck out twice, but his hit was a double tattooed to the right-field corner, just missing being an oppo taco. Kelenic also scored the Mariners’ starters only other run of the day, meaning he was involved in two of the starters’ three runs. That’s good; having another day where your starters scrape up three runs or fewer is less good. (In fairness, I should mention here Ty France had two singles and continues to look like the Mariners’ best hitter, non-Abraham Toro division. Ty France tried a duality once and didn’t like it. He is always careful now to ask the restaurant whether their ice cream is just plain vanilla or vanilla bean.)
Also in the good/bad/mostly bad column: Paul Sewald was greeted rudely by a leadoff homer from new Cub Clint Frazier and a double from Nico Hoerner, and then failed to pay attention to Hoerner, allowing him to take third easily to be sent home on a Michael Hermosillo sac fly to extend the Cubs’ lead to 8-3. That was all he’d allow, having struck out Rafael Ortega looking and then striking out old frenemy Patrick Wisdom to end the inning.
Anthony Misiewicz, who wants to be just like Paul Sewald when he grows up, also allowed a leadoff base hit and allowed a runner to advance without doing anything, tossing a wild pitch, but also came back with two strikeouts of his own. More of this Tony Sandwiches, please:
The kids came on at the end and helped make the score a little more respectable, beating up on Cubs reliever Michael Rucker: Connor Hoover, 2021 international signing Gabriel Gonzalez (!), defense-first shortstop Cesar Izturis Jr., and recent MiLB signing Riley Unroe all combined to tack on another pair of runs in the eighth, making an ugly 8-3 game a less ugly 8-5 game. It’s spring training, caveats apply, but it’d sure be nice to see the starters get the bats going a little more as there’s no duality in baseball that can salvage 14 (!) strikeouts.