At least this one was: a) only seven and a half innings; and b) not televised anywhere. Today the Mariners ran out 18 different batters who collected all of six hits between them. While this was an effective strategy to get lots of different players looks, it was not an effective strategy for scoring runs, as the Mariners lost 6-1.
How did all those runs score for a Lindor-less Cleveland team? Here’s a breakdown of each Mariners pitcher:
Yusei Kikuchi started the game and went his scheduled two innings. He started out strong, getting two quick outs on a strikeout and a comebacker, then walked Jake Bauers before giving up an RBI double to Josh Naylor (Kikuchi would later make a heads-up play on an overthrow from Crawford to the plate to nail the leadfooted Naylor trying to take third). Kikuchi was laboring a little with the command on his slider in that first inning, spiking it in the dirt a couple of times, but rebounded nicely in the second inning with a 1-2-3 inning with two more strikes. His fastball sat 94-96, paired with the cutter at 91-92, and the slider at 85.
Joey Gerber had an effective inning, giving up just one hit to newly-acquired shortstop Andres Gímenez and collecting one strikeout looking. Gerber Baby reportedly touched 95, a good sign for his velocity returning. Domingo Tapia also gets high marks in his Mariners debut, topping out at 98 mph and retiring all three of the batters he faced on groundball outs.
Things went downhill for the Mariners pitchers after that. Erik Swanson struggled in his season debut, giving up a leadoff single and then allowing Mike Freeman to advance to second on a wild pitch before giving up a two-run homer to Gímenez (110 EV). Swanson rebounded to strike out Yu Chang, but then fell behind Billy Hamilton 3-1 before getting an inning-ending popout.
RHP Jaime Schultz, an NRI who signed a minor-league deal with the club this off-season, also struggled, giving up a base hit and stolen base, walking two batters, and the big blow, a two-RBI double to Josh Naylor. His inning ended as a rollover after he got helped out with a double play. Schultz has big stuff that scrapes triple digits but struggles badly with command: he was either out of the zone and walking batters, but when he was in the zone the fastball seemed hittable, with batters seemingly able to make solid contact. Still, big stuff is always intriguing and it will be interesting to see if he can harness any kind of command under the tutelage of the Mariner pitching coaches. Paging pitcher-whisperer Rob Marcello, stat.
Fellow fireballer Gerson Bautista also got touched up a little thanks to command struggles, giving up a leadoff walk (never good!) followed by a single, a flyout, and a sac fly to score Cleveland’s sixth run of the day. At this point the Cleveland offense was being helmed by Ryan Lavarnway, Tyler (not even Mike!) Freeman, and Steven Kwan, so, that kind of tells you where things were at. NRI Taylor Guerrieri, signed earlier this month to a minors deal, came close to giving up Seattle’s seventh run of the day after starting off with a leadoff single to top Cleveland prospect Nolan Jones and allowing offensive powerhouse Ryan Lavarnway a double, but Donovan “Donnie Baseball” Walton made a sparkling defensive play to close out the inning and the game.
The Mariners had a few opportunities offensively, but just weren’t able to string much of anything together. Their lone run came thanks to Taylor Trammell in the final offensive inning of the day, with his first hit and RBI as a Mariner.
In case you can’t tell, that’s Jordan Cowan scoring on the play; he had a base hit, which we love to see, because long live Jordan Cowan.
The other lone offensive highlight for the Mariners didn’t end in a run, but it did involve Julio Rodríguez:
That hit came off a 94 mph fastball from converted position player Anthony Gose. Braden Bishop also had a hit that inning and it felt, with Julio’s single, that the Mariners offense might be stringing something together, but alas, Jantzen Witte, who I must stress is a real human the Mariners pay to play baseball, popped out in the next at-bat to end the inning.
Some other assorted notes:
- The Mariners had two stolen bases—J.P. Crawford in the first, and Sam Haggerty in the second. Add that to Dylan Moore’s stolen base from Sunday and the Mariners are in a tie for the third-most stolen bases in baseball this spring, despite playing one less game than anyone else at the top of the leaderboard.
- Tom Murphy struck out in both his at-bats as he works to get his timing back at the plate.
- Jarred Kelenic went 0-for-2. In his first AB, Kelenic saw seven pitches and swung at six of them: five fouls and a groundout. On his next trip to the plate, JK was much more selective, working the count against Kyle Nelson to 3-1 before eventually going down on a slider.
- Evan White had a groundout and a hard-hit ball that was caught on the warning track but hey, contact is contact.
- Haniger had a double! No video of that, unfortunately, but it seemed to be hit pretty deep over Gamel’s head (hello Ben Gamel, currently playing for Cleveland in case you forgot).
Tomorrow’s game is against the Cubs and getting national TV (ESPN) because, Cubs, so pre-arrange your excuse for why you can’t work then and come hang out with us.