If you want a feel-good spring training game, step right up, because the good vibes were bountiful as the Mariners defeated the Padres, 5-4, behind strong pitching, good defense, and a few big clutch hits—stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Today marked Logan Gilbert’s spring debut, and also the debut of his new split-change. The Mariners have been slow-playing Gilbert this spring, but there’s nothing slow about facing the fearsome top of this Padres lineup, and Gilbert started his day by walking Fernando Tatís Jr. on five pitches followed by a Juan Soto base hit up the middle to put runners on at first and third. But then Logan went back to his trusty fastball to get a strikeout of Manny Machado:
Logan Gilbert striking out Manny Machado: pic.twitter.com/nDbvgGS0nY— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 2, 2023
Nelson Cruz then lofted a little base hit that Teoscar Hernández couldn’t get to with an attempting sliding catch, giving the Padres a 1-0 lead, but Gilbert bounced back to get the next two outs and stop the damage there.
In his second inning of work, Gilbert again opened with a walk—to Rougned Odor, of all people, before allowing a double to David Dahl. Top Padres prospect Jackson Merrill made a productive out to push the Padres lead to 2-0, but Gilbert again battled back to strike out Tatís on the new split-change:
The first looks of Logan Gilbert's new split-changeup, via a swinging strikeout to Fernando Tatis Jr. pic.twitter.com/irYgrKPmsw— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 2, 2023
I would like to [Werner Herzog voice] see more of the baby, but it looks like there’s some really late movement on that bad boy. Exciting stuff. That apparently tapped Gilbert’s pitch count for the day, as Travis Kuhn was summoned from the bullpen to try to get the third out; unfortunately, he had to face Juan Soto, who is literally hitting .800 so far this spring, and Soto singled to make it 3-0 Padres before Machado flew out to end the inning.
The Mariners got on the board against Padres starter Seth Lugo in the second, with Eugenio Suárez recording his first homer of the spring, a long one to deep right center:
Eugenio Suarez belts a long home run to right center field. pic.twitter.com/oB5ycTjH3w— Gravel (@Gravel_sense) March 2, 2023
The Mariners were able to draw even closer against Adrián Morejón as Cal Raleigh just missed his first homer of the spring, knocking a ball against the top of the wall. He moved to third on a J.P. Crawford base hit and scored on a Brian O’Keefe parachute single to make it 3-2.
As the Mariners crawled back into the game, the pitching staff held the Padres off the board. Prelander Berroa, who had the third and fourth innings, wasn’t quite as dominant as he was in his first outing, getting bailed out from an inning-opening base hit by some strong defense by Suárez:
It's spring training but Eugenio Suárez's defense is in mid-season form: pic.twitter.com/Vhm7e0e2o8— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 2, 2023
Cade Marlowe also ran down a well-struck fly ball nicely to help Prelander post a 0 despite allowing a walk to Matt Carpenter. Berroa seemed to settle in after that; despite falling behind David Dahl 3-0 to lead off his next inning, he rebounded to strike out Dahl, baffling him into this hideous check swing:
More Prelander Berroa content ... another ⚔️ swing induced for a K here in his second spring outing. pic.twitter.com/tyx2eLJijn— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 2, 2023
Here’s another angle where you can see the insane late movement this pitch gets. It disappears like a whack-a-mole:
Berroa then got Jackson Merrill swinging, as well, before getting Tatís Jr. to pop out easily to end the inning. Command will be the watchword with Berroa as the spring progresses, but the hype train is gathering speed.
Top Padres prospect Jackson Merrill is having a good spring so far, but he's no match for the Prelander Berroa Hype Train: pic.twitter.com/elVfXqo2Z9— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 2, 2023
The other Mariners pitchers weren’t quite so flashy but were equally effective. Tayler Saucedo turned in another strong inning facing the teeth of the Padres lineup: every ball hit against him was on the ground, and while Machado got a single out of it, Soto and Cruz both made outs—and Cruz, being ever the gentleman, gave us another look at the Wong-Crawford-France double play combo:
Kolten Wong flashing some leather with a smooth spin move as we get another look at the Wong-Crawford-France DP combo. Cut to picture of Perry Hill rubbing his hands together in glee. pic.twitter.com/IDooR2418e— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 2, 2023
Gabe Speier and Ryder Ryan also turned in scoreless innings, although neither were perfectly clean, as each pitcher allowed a leadoff single but then worked out of the potential jam with weak contact and groundball outs. The only further damage off a Mariners pitcher came In the eighth, when Tommy Milone allowed a run to score after allowing a base hit to Tirso Ornelas and a spring training “double” to Pedro Severino, stretching the Padres lead to 4-2.
The Mariners climbed back into the game in the eighth against Padres pitcher José Lopez, with Cooper Hummel leading off with his first homer of the spring.
Here's Cooper Hummel's home run to left field from earlier. pic.twitter.com/WVVayDryMj— Gravel (@Gravel_sense) March 2, 2023
Leo Rivas later reached on an error, Jonatan Clase reached on a bloop base hit, pushing Rivas to third, and then Rivas scored on a wild pitch, tying the game at 4-4. Milone was able to hold off the Padres in the top of the ninth, allowing for some late-game heroics against Sean Poppen, as Kaden Polcovich singled and then showed off some good wheels as he was driven home by Alberto Rodríguez, continuing his strong spring after being outrighted off the Mariners’ 40-man this off-season. Go Berto! Go good vibes!
When it's spring training you don't get a big celebration for walking it off, but this has to feel pretty good for Alberto Rodríguez, who saw himself removed from the Mariners' 40-man roster this off-season after a disappointing 2022. pic.twitter.com/DFgqh202Cl— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 2, 2023