Spent most of the afternoon recovering from last night’s pre-tour barbecue and watching the Mariners play the Cubs in relative peace and quiet. Tom and the tour entourage were out running last-minute errands, and it was nice to have the house to myself for a while, after having it full of about 20 people for quite a bit of yesterday.
Ryan Rowland-Smith was back to normal today, and it was great to see. He worked through 7 innings, giving up only 1 run on 5 hits. The run and the bulk of the hits were given up in the 6th, and I had thought he’d be taken out after that, but he was left in for the entire 7th inning, where he worked quickly and efficiently, getting his first two batters to ground out, and striking out his third. The Ms put a little pressure on the Cubbies in the bottom of the 7th, loading the bases with no outs. Mario Martinez was sent into this situation, only to strike out against Ryan Dempster, who has recently been converted out of the pen to a starter. Matt Tuiasosopo also struck out swinging at a pitch down and away. With two out and the bases loaded, Adam Moore was the last Dempster strike-out, leaving all three men stranded.
Mark Lowe took over for RRS in the 8th. I have heard really good things about his spring this year, and it’s a little pocket of encouragement, in the midst of all the problems we have. His fastballs are still in the mid 90s, and he worked his inning very quickly, getting his batters to fly out, ground out, and strike out, in order. David Aardsma, however, did the exact opposite of that, racking up a fly out, a walk, another fly out, and Adam Moore finally ended a Miguel-Batista-paced 9th inning by gunning out Sam Fuld as he tried to steal second. I am glad that Moore’s going to make the team this year – we’ll have a good catcher and not-too-shabby game caller to compliment Rob Johnson (who I really haven’t been paying a lot of attention to so far), and if Johnson breaks down, it’s Josh Bard time.
Eric Byrnes I’m liking more and more in the field. He took over center for Franklin Gutierrez today, and made some really smooth plays. Byrnes is quickly endearing himself to me. Not only does he field well, but he always looks like he’s having a lot of fun doing it. I don’t know that I’ve seen any other players who look like they’re having quite as good a time as he does. I’m absolutely sold. He’s not a bad hitter, either, which definitely helps make his case.
We did not win today’s game, but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t take a whole lot of notes, deciding instead to just watch the thing, and despite the fact that we were shut out (final score 1-0), our defense looked good, the guys demonstrated a lot of plate patience, and the game looked more like a major league game than previous games they’ve aired. Matt Tuiasosopo was rocking it at third, and while he didn’t have a lot to do, he still held down the fort. Jack Wilson made an amazing catch, jumping, twisting and leaping to make a wide throw to Casey Kotchman at first, and while the play was not made, that throw most definitely was. We just looked a little more stable, a little more solid out there today, and it was nice to see.
I don’t know how much I’ll be able to update this week. It’s going to be a busy one for me – entertaining, but busy. And as a reminder, Mariners Mondays are on tomorrow night at 7.30 on FSN, and there will be games aired at 4pm this coming Friday the 2nd, 11am Saturday the 3rd, and at noon on Sunday the 4th, our last three little nuggets of ST before Opening Day, finally and wonderfully, on Monday, April 5th. It cannot come soon enough.