The last couple games of spring training always have a feeling to me like the last few days of college, when people are loading up cars and submitting final papers and sitting those last few exams—a liminal space, a transition between what was and what will be. Even the weather is in on the illusion today, the ample sunshine in Seattle tricking me into thinking it’s June and summer break instead of March and barely spring break.
Today it was Marco Gonzales who drew the unfortunate straw of the last-scheduled exam; no longer an underclassman breezing through entry-level classes and getting out of town early to start summer break/Opening Day ahead of everyone else, Marco is now the grizzled senior having to make last-minute corrections to his thesis project while watching the likes of Logan Gilbert and George Kirby skip off to Seattle, footloose and fancy-free.
Marco battled the Padres over 5.2 innings. His first inning of work against the teeth of the Padres lineup went well, and he worked around a leadoff double to Jake Cronenworth in the second, but an uncharacteristic pair of back-to-back walks in the third led to the Padres getting a pair of runs on a Xander Bogaerts double. In the fourth, another double, this time off the bat of Austin Nola, followed by a Matt Carpenter single, brought in another Padres run. All in all, a very Marco day of work, outside of the two walks. Hit up In-n-Out on your road trip back home, Marco; you deserve it.
The Mariners’ frontline offense probably could have controlled this game better against Padres starter Seth Lugo; they missed an opportunity in the second when Jarred Kelenic grounded into an inning-ending double play, and another in the third when Tom Murphy, misjudging Tatís’s arm, got thrown out trying to make it to third on a Haggerty single. Julio would later bring Swaggy Ham home on a single that would have scored Murphy, but did at least score Haggerty after Trent Grisham couldn’t find the handle on the ball in center. Lugo then took momentary leave of his senses and threw a couple wild pitches before Kolten Wong singled home Tanner Kirwer, pinch-running for Julio, which gave the Mariners their second run of the day. A solid effort, but not enough, like trying to fake your way through the essay questions on a final where you didn’t quite finish the book.
The run scoring slowed down as the second line entered, with the Padres tacking on just one more run against Matt Festa in the eighth, still getting in his spring reps after missing time while away with Team Italy in the WBC. That made the score 4-2, which is where it would end, giving the Mariners a 14-13 record for the 2023 Cactus League. While a loss on the scoreboard, this game is a win in the ways that mattered: everyone got their reps in, no one got injured, the young players got a chance to show their stuff in the later innings (Alberto Rodríguez can now add “worked a walk off Josh Hader” to his already impressive spring training resume, which should certainly help with landing a summer internship), and a very healthy-sized crowd at the Cactus League gave the team a nice sendoff before they ship on back to Seattle.
Next stop: Opening Day. We’ll have all your seasonal favorites on tap this week: the ballpark food guide published today and we’ll have our predictions, series preview, and the “If It All Goes Right/If It All Goes Wrong” series this week. And if you want a pre-season experience but couldn’t make it to Arizona, you can always attend the Mariners’ team workout on March 29th at T-Mobile, the day before Opening Day. Read more about it here. And a very sincere thank-you to those of you who read, commented on, and shared these spring training recaps. These are obviously a challenge to recap with limited video, the games take place during the workday, and they’re generally low engagement, but we think it’s important to recap them, especially for those of you who wouldn’t be able to experience the games otherwise. So thanks for sticking through yet another spring training with us. Onto the 2023 season.