The Mariners have finally solidified their Opening Day roster, and used most of those players in a lineup against the San Fransisco Giants for the last Spring Training game of the season (finally!) today at noon. Advanced apologies for the awkwardness of this post. I’m SO glad that we are going to go back to playing the American League – I know so little about the NL, it’s nearly impossible for me to write anything very coherent about its players.
The rain started pretty much the moment Todd Wellemeyer took the hill to deal to Ichiro Suzuki in the game’s first at-bat. The Mariners engineered a run in in the first inning, thanks to Ichiro’s single and subsequent steal, a Franklin Gutierrez walk, and a nice line drive up the middle between 1B and 2B from Jose Lopez. Our offense finally decided to show up to a baseball game!
Wellemeyer managed to walk the bases loaded in the 3rd, then faced Adam Moore, who hit a double towards right field, sending two runners home, and causing Tommy Everidge to start towards home before he nearly got caught in a rundown at third. He was declared safe by the third base ump, amid boos and general vocalizations of complaint from an extremely sparse and plastic-covered San Fransisco crowd. At this point, Wellemeyer had administered well into 70 pitches (in comparison to Vargas’ 20 or so) by the end of the inning, while Horacio Ramirez warmed up in the Giants’ bullpen, and the rain kept falling. Wellemeyer then walked Jack Wilson, who was pinch-run for by Josh Wilson, and got out of the jam by striking out Jason Vargas (who I’m told by Jon Shields at ProBallNW was an excellent hitter in college), score 3-0, Mariners.
A little smidge of redemption came for Wellemeyer in the bottom of the 3rd; he was responsible for the Giants first hit of the game, a single off Vargas. On a hit from Andres Torres, our third baseman Travis Denker (having replaced Jose Lopez after a really awful error made by Lopez off his own glove) made a play that involved him nabbing the ball while on his knee, then spinning around (on that same knee!) to throw to first. He was charged with an error for not making the out, but what a fantastic move!
By the top of the 6th inning, the rain was coming down hard and consistently, and even though it didn’t appear to be causing the players much trouble, the puddles on the warning track were looking fairly ominous. Matt Tuiasosopo didn’t seem to mind, though, as he launched a Horacio Ramirez 88mph fastball into the left field bleachers, and took his trot around the bases. Chris Woodward followed that up with a single. While Tui and Eric Byrnes celebrated in the dugout, Mike Sweeney was kind enough to wipe the broadcast camera off with a towel. HoRam had a lot of trouble with our batters, giving up some singles to put men on, and Tommy Everidge upped the ante by sending a line drive past the third base line, bringing in Woodward and the aforementioned Byrnes, who is an impressive runner. I’d never noticed before, but he’s got a set of wheels on him. The more I see and hear of and about Byrnes, the more I love him. Adam Moore brought Everidge in on an error by John Bowker, and with two out, the broadcast went to commercial while the Giants sent in Henry Sosa to face our 8th hitter of the inning, James Jones pinch-hitting for Jason Vargas. Jones flew out.
Michael Pineda was brought in to pitch the 6th, a 20-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic, and according to Mike Blowers and Dave Sims, one of the faces of our future (and much-loved by the guys at PBNW). Pineda managed to face three batters before the game was absolutely too rainy to play, and was called as a full game, final score of 7-1.
I really need to lighten up on Jason Vargas. I keep having doubts about him, but he’s had a good spring, and today was no exception. He only gave up one run, and was on the hill for 5 full innings under cold and wet skies, conditions that he doesn’t have to face for any of his starts here in Seattle. He looked good out there, and has earned his spot in the rotation, so far as I can tell.
Opening Day tomorrow, folks. We’ve waited a long, long time for this, and it will be a sweet reunion with Real Live Serious Baseball. Conor Dowley at ProBallNW has a bit up now about the Rainiers’ Opening Day roster, and he and I will be down there this Thursday to see the Rainiers take on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, my first Real Live Serious Baseball Game of the year. This is going to be a good week. After I hit ‘post’ here, my friend Eric and I are going to watch the Red Sox and Yankees on ESPN, and I will rest well tonight knowing that baseball has finally, unquestionably, started for 2010. Let’s play some ball!