Today the Mariners put on their offense hat and hung double-digit runs against the Cincinnati Reds in a game that felt surprisingly long, because sending all those runners around the bases takes a while, apparently. Oh, how spoiled we’ve already become by the pitch clock. In the bottom of the fifth inning I thought, “sheesh, this game is long!” Readers, it had been one hour and thirty-four minutes.
George Kirby made his third start of the spring and looked relatively sharp. He touched 97 via the Peoria gun and sat 95-96 mph in the first inning, although that velo had fallen to 93-94 in his later innings. He had the slider working, getting some weak contact groundouts, and even mixed in a couple of those new splitters, getting a called strike on one and an ugly half-swing on another. Kirby suffered a little at the hands of some shaky defense: J.P. Crawford made a poor throw to first (well backed-up by Kolten Wong, it should be noted), and Colin Moran made a nice stop on a hot grounder that he should have just held on to but instead threw it past Ty France, allowing the runner on second to advance to third, which eventually resulted in a run. File this one under “spring tune-ups.”
The Reds should really ask the Mariners if they’d be interested in trading some of those nice pitchers they have lying around because today the pitching arm of the Big Red Machine fell off, caught fire, fell down a ravine, and then caught fire again. The Mariners were not nice to Reds starter Connor Overton, with Tom Murphy greeting him with this blast, delightfully narrated by Cooper Hummel:
Come for the Tom Murphy home run— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) March 10, 2023
Stay for the Cooper Hummel reaction pic.twitter.com/GbvYzFmSUF
The Mariners also hung an unearned run on Overton that inning after Kole Calhoun, a name it physically pains me to type correctly, doubled and scored when Reds first baseman Tyler Stephenson whiffed on a ball Mike Ford hit directly at him. Kolten Wong then doubled into the right field corner, but the slow-footed Ford could only get to third, a fact Kolten Wong became aware of when he was roughly two-thirds of the way to third base only to discover Ford was still standing there, leading to a real-life record-scratch “bet you’re wondering how I got here” moment. (He made it back to second okay). After Overton was relieved of his duties, Jarred Kelenic then had a very nice at-bat against Ryan Nutof, punching a little 93 mph fastball right through the not-shift on the right side to score two more runs. (He was then picked off at first base to end the inning. It’s all a process.) It feels like you can actually see Kelenic breathing more this spring, slowing the game down in considered, purposeful ways.
This was such a nice at-bat for Kelenic. Got ahead in the count 2-1, took a smart timeout to take a breath, didn't try to do too much with the pitch, just sent it back where it came from for a two-run single. pic.twitter.com/JIipMUllc1— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 10, 2023
Derek Law had the best outing of any Reds pitcher against the Mariners, striking out the side, and things got a little dicey after that when Will Benson homered off Gabe Speier in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-2. But that’s as close as Cincinnati would come, as the Mariners walloped poor Lucas Sims for five runs. Sims struggled with his command, walking Ty France and then giving up a double to Kelenic in a 3-1 count:
Jarred Kelenic's line drive double in his third at-bat: pic.twitter.com/DLZ4lQNNys— Gravel (@Gravel_sense) March 10, 2023
A fielder’s choice followed by a walk would then load the bases, followed by a bases-loaded walk to Leo Rivas. Tom Murphy then hit a two-run single to stretch the lead to 7-2, and another RBI single from Kole Calhoun gave the Mariners another run before Sims was mercifully lifted, having recorded no outs. Ricky Karcher doesn’t get penalized in the box score for letting Sims’ runners score, but he did issue a walk to re-load the bases and eventually tack on another run, firmly putting the game into “laugher” territory as the Reds would only be able to scrape up one more run off Darren McCaughan, who again literally and metaphorically took one for the team by pitching the final three innings of this game.
The Mariners weren’t done with big hits, though; with Kaden Polcovich aboard via a hit by pitch, Cooper Hummel hit his own “gosh that was loud” blast to make it 11-3 Mariners. That’s Hummel’s third homer of the spring, which puts him into a twenty-person tie for second place. (Jarred Kelenic remains the clubhouse leader with four, although he is tied with Edmundo Sosa in all of baseball.)
Hummel wasn’t the only local kid making good today; Tayler Saucedo also had a solid inning of work, carving through his first two hitters with strikeouts before allowing a bloop hit and a line-drive single, but got out of the inning with a groundout nicely fielded by Jake Scheiner at first. Saucedo doesn’t throw hard—the gun in Peoria had his fastball around 91-92 mph—but he gets a lot of weak contact and can miss bats with this slider:
Tomorrow the Mariners travel to the jewel of the Cactus League, Salt River Fields, to take on the Rockies with ROOT’s first ever all-female broadcast. Check it out starting at noon Seattle time on ROOT.