First of all, Simpsons purists, I know that Whacking Day officially falls on May 10, but because the Mariners and DBacks have historically never played each other often outside of spring training, let alone on May 10, we always assign the first game of spring against Arizona as Snake Whacking Day. And by “always,” I mean today, and in Eric’s first recap for the site way back in 2017, which you can read here if you’d like to do a little light time travel (Yovani Gallardo was the starting pitcher, if that tells you anything about the era of Mariners baseball you’re about to enter).
In the time-honored tradition of a recap from Salt River Fields, which has the nicest facilities in the Cactus League and the most frustrating broadcast schedule, there was no television broadcast of this game, so we must use the power of our Imaginations (and some helpful clips provided by the Mariners media team) to learn about how the Mariners again defeated their serpentine foes, 6-3.
Today was Marco Gonzales’s second start of the spring, and after pitching two innings against the Angels he almost doubled that today against the D-Backs, coming one out shy of clearing the fourth inning. Marco accomplished that despite having to work around some traffic on the bases in the first, as he walked Josh Rojas with just one out and then gave up a ground ball single to oh-yeah-he’s-in-Arizona-now Lourdes Gurriel. Marco rebounded to get an easy pop out from Christian Walker and strike out Evan Longoria swinging, though, to escape the image without damage.
Marco also walked a batter in the second inning, the ever-pesky Gabriel Moreno, who will insist on pitchers putting it in the zone, and had to deal with some traffic in the third, although that wasn’t entirely his fault—the normally sure-handed Mason McCoy committed a throwing error to allow Gurriel Jr. to reach, followed by a line-drive single from Walker, but again, Marco dialed up a strikeout of Longoria to end the inning.
Evan Longoria will be happy to see Marco Gonzales depart Salt River Fields today. Marco struck Longo out twice, each time to end an inning. pic.twitter.com/UAM29OsP28— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 3, 2023
Meanwhile, the Mariners offense rallied up a four-run lead for Marco over his four innings of work. In the second, facing starter Merrill Kelly, Mason McCoy singled in Tom Murphy, who had singled to lead off the inning. But it was Mark Melancon the Mariners really touched up today, as Mike Ford blasted a two-run shot off him (scoring Murphy, on base again with a single), and later Julio singled home Mason McCoy, on board with a single of his own. Lots of little damage, for sure, but this blast was built Mike Ford tough:
Mike Ford's two-run homer to right field pic.twitter.com/uNIOyGh7Py— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 3, 2023
Armed with a nice 4-0 lead, Marco got two outs to begin the fourth, but another single from Moreno ended Marco’s day, bringing in replacement Dayeison Arias, who issued a walk but was able to shut things down after that. Meanwhile, the Mariners stretched the lead out to 5-0 thanks to Tom Murphy, who just had himself a really nice day:
Tom Murphy went 3-for-3 today at Salt River Fields, headlined by a sky-high home run in his final at-bat.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 3, 2023
Exit velo: 105.3 mph
Launch angle: 41°
Distance: 376 ft.
Hang time: 6.4 seconds pic.twitter.com/gznlVy0oSu
If there was a real Whacking Day, I feel pretty assured that Tom Murphy would be the clubhouse leader in Snakes Whacked, as what he lacks in footspeed he makes up for in raw strength and general wilderness knowledge.
Taylor Williams had the bottom of the fifth and struggled, giving up a walk and back-to-back doubles that scored two runs; he was bailed out from further damage by some sharp defense at second base by Kolten’s brother Kean Wong, who signed with the Mariners on a minor-league deal this off-season. While we don’t have an image of that play, we do have an earlier snare he made, so you can get an idea of the younger Wong’s range and athleticism:
Those Wong brothers can play a little defense. Kean Wong made a couple of nice plays in today's game: bailing out his pitcher with a clutch double play to end an inning and also making this sharp snare earlier in the game. pic.twitter.com/hUc8HcRnbo— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) March 3, 2023
Arizona scraped up one more run off Justus Sheffield on some small-ball singles before Darren McCaughan came in to slam the door over the final two innings, dispatching all six of his batters with three strikeouts as the baby snakes couldn’t catch up with McCaughan’s slider. We don’t have footage of McCaughan’s innings, but here’s how I imagine it looked:
Compass Points of Interest:
- Evan White was a late scratch today, being replaced by Mike Ford at first base. Scott Servais says it’s nothing too serious, White is just a little sore—which makes sense, considering he’s played more baseball games over the past week than he has in the past year or so.
- Juan Then pitched another scoreless inning with two strikeouts—including striking out the impossible-to-strike-out-Moreno—continuing a solid spring for him.
- The Mariners got their sixth run of the day in the top of the sixth as Mason McCoy doubled to lead off the inning and Jake Anchía scored the run with a single. Defensive miscue today aside, McCoy continues to show out this spring.
- Shortstop Axel Sánchez took over as a pinch runner in the sixth and also got his first at-bat of the spring, hitting a ground-ball single. Sánchez, 20, came up to Modesto from the ACL as a fill-in after Edwin Arroyo was traded and performed very well. He’s an under-the-radar name to keep an eye on.
- Today’s radio tidbit is the Mariners have formed a little clubhouse band—Pete Woodworth plays bass, and Penn Murfee plays guitar, which we knew, but apparently Harry Ford can play Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” on the saxophone? What can’t young Harry do?