Some days the runs in the Cactus League flow like the water that is nowhere to be found elsewhere in the Cactus League. Other times it’s a total drought. Goose eggs all around. Less scoring than a game of pick-up basketball played by beat writers. Today was the rare Cactus League pitcher’s duel. Neither team walked a batter until the eighth inning. The two teams combined for nineteen strikeouts, and stranded a combined 27 runners on base. In a regular season game, I’d find this exciting. In a radio-only spring training game, less so.
George Kirby started for the Mariners and looked (sounded) sharp. In his first inning of work, he struck out Wilmer Flores swinging at 96, worked around a pair of ground ball base hits, and got another called strike three on a fastball to end the inning.
A thread of George Kirby strikeouts ...— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 16, 2023
No. 1 pic.twitter.com/3h0xAtC7B5
Kirby also got a strikeout on something that might have been his cutter? The Giants broadcast called it “a fastball with something taken off of it” which, yeah, probably cutter.
No. 3 pic.twitter.com/Vw7fhzkHQc— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 16, 2023
Kirby also bounced back from falling behind Joey Bart 2-0 work to strike him out swinging at 94, and worked around a defensive miscue in the fourth when a dropped pop up allowed Austin Slater to reach; he’d then steal second. Kirby got the next batter to line out, and then Gabe Speier came in to clean things up, stranding Slater (who had stolen third base, as well) at third.
The Giants packed light for their trip to Peoria, bringing just two pitchers that work with any outfit. Alex Cobb flummoxed the Mariners hitters, coaxing ground ball after ground ball off their bats and getting whiffs on his splitter, needing just 60 pitches to get through five innings of work. Tall (6’11”) pitcher Sean Hjelle (“jelly”) shut the Mariners down over the back half of the game.
The Mariners had a couple of chances to score and once again Jarred Kelenic was right at the center of one of the rallies. The only time the Mariners came close to touching Cobb was when Kolten Wong hit an infield single, followed by Jarred Kelenic lacing a line drive into center:
Jarred Kelenic keeps hitting. Here's his single in his first AB today pic.twitter.com/xgnvHApcCc— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 16, 2023
He’d later steal second for his third stolen base of the spring, but alas, the inning ended on a Tom Murphy strikeout (has no one told him about the Catcher Supremacy?) and that would be as close as the Mariners would get to scoring off Cobb. One the bright side, it’s great to see Jarred making good contact off of a pitcher like Cobb, so we’ll consider that a win for the day.
Brian Woo made his Cactus League debut and after a shaky first inning where he hit a batter attempting to bunt, he ended the inning on a strikeout, sitting an easy 95-97 on the fastball. Woo’s second inning was much less adventurous than his first; he collected his second strikeout in his next inning of work on what the Mariners broadcast called a slider and the Giants broadcast called a curve. He throws both of them, so without video or velocity it’s hard to say, but a strikeout is a strikeout.
Justin Topa, Chris Clarke, and José Rodríguez all worked scoreless innings, although each had to deal with a little traffic on the bases: Topa gave up a little single to Joey Bart, who then tried to steal??? Joey my friend you are still a catcher, no matter what your teammates are doing on the bases. He was thrown out by Brian O’Keefe to end the inning. Clarke issued the Mariners’ pitching staff lone walk of the day but worked around it, and Rodríguez got bunted against for a base hit before inducing a double play ball from the next batter. All in all, a sharp day for the pitching staff.
Unfortunately Cobb and Hjelle combined to shut down the Mariners’ offense entirely; Hjelle wobbled a little in the ninth as the Mariners threatened to score but ultimately left what would have been the winning run at third base. Womp womp. They’ll try to find some offense tomorrow at 6:30 against the Soto-less, Machado-less Padres. That game, like the revolution, will also not be televised.
Compass Points of Interest:
- Jose Caballero got the start in place of the scratched Dylan Moore and acquitted himself well at shortstop.
- Sam Haggerty checked in with an infield hit off Cobb, as well, because pretty much all the hits the Mariners were able to scrape off Cobb other than Jarred’s were infield hits.
- Update on why Dylan Moore was a scratch today:
Dylan Moore felt some discomfort in his side this morning while hitting in the cage and was scratched from thelineup. He's going to have it checked out more.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 16, 2023
Boooo. Get well soon, DMo!