Lineup today against the Oakland A’s:
I was able to catch four out of the five games streamed on the ESPN app this week at work, and while I love listening to the sounds of the stadium and the crack of the bat over the radio, there is nothing quite like being able to watch it unfold in front of you. Today was that day.
An interview with Felix recorded sometime prior to the game featured a pretty confident and calmly fired up pitcher talking about the chip on his shoulder and feeling like he had to prove himself after a 2016 spending so much time on the DL. Regardless, he still allowed two runs in the top of the first inning courtesy of Oakland’s Ryan Healy and Mark Canha. In the bottom of that inning, Leonys Martin and Guillermo Heredia both caught outs before Kyle Seager managed to plate himself with a left field single. Daniel Vogelbach took four pitches before a swinging strike sent him back to the dugout. Felix had better luck in the second inning, though a pickoff attempt went awry at the glove of Vogelbach; but Vogelbach had the chance to redeem himself for the final out of the inning, with the help of Mike Freeman, who took a dive and tossed the ball to first.
Boog Powell gave the Mariners an advantage in the bottom of the second, hitting a nice stand up triple off the back wall of the field that the A’s fielders just couldn’t get a hand on. Shawn O’Malley took one for the team to plate Powell with an out at first. Minor leaguer James Ramsey showed some plate patience and managed a walk to first with two out, but Leonys Martin hopped out to second on the first pitch, probably thinking he had more of a handle on it than he did, and that was the end of that.
Felix’s third was super swift and easy; two strikeouts and a flyout. The second swinging strikeout was at Stephen Vogt, a fastball right at the outside corner that Vogt tried desperately to get some wood on. While the broadcasters talked more about Felix and the camera showed him in the dugout joking around with his teammates and watching the game, Guillermo Heredia chopped one out to left field for a double with no outs. A’s starter Jharel Cotton had been replaced with Daniel Coulombe, and I guess Heredia just liked what was being flung at him. While Vogelbach took a couple of pitches, Heredia stole third. Vogelbach slapped one to center so hard it bounced off the wall and landed him at second. Vogelbach is a big dude, but he can apparently rake and run, giving us our own sort of tiny Prince Fielder. I don’t know that I’d trust him to steal, but I also feel like we may see some surprises out of him this year. The Cubs got Mike Montgomery (and Montgomery got the chance to help win the World Series, which was just fantastic and must have been great for him), but I am liking our end of the deal more and more lately. Vogelbach’s hit gave Heredia home, and provided a tied game, but then Mariners catcher Carlos Ruiz sent Vogelbach home and put us ahead by one.
RH Evan Scribner took over for Felix in the fourth and took down his batters almost before I had the chance to sit back down again (I have been trying to do some chores between innings). Chase DeJong (pronounced “dee-yung”), a very recent acquisition from the Dodgers (they got some prospects from us in exchange) took over for Scribner in the 5th, after a scoreless bottom 4 from the Mariners. DeJong allowed a run while I was briefly out of the room, and then another one to give the A’s the upper hand, via a grounder that went right between Mike Freeman’s feet and into shallow right behind him. Heredia caught the final out of that inning in right. DeJong’s 6th was better, no runs were allowed.
More chores, some tea, and clipping all three cats’ claws later, and it was the top of the 8th inning, the A’s were up by two, and Thyago Vieira was pitching for the Mariners. I haven’t had the time to read up on this guy, but from what I am hearing via Twitter and the occasional bit of news article I’m able to read (sometimes people bring papers in to work), Vieira is quite the firecracker, throwing around 100+. I remember when Edwin Diaz did that last year and we were all a-flutter about it. It’s funny to me, we see guys throwing mid-90s all the time, and that is a pretty normal speed for fastballs; but ratchet that up a few MPH, and it makes all the difference, so long as the control is there too. I’m not sure the control was quite there today, as Vieira loaded up the bases with two outs and seemed to struggle in the windy conditions there in Peoria today. He got A’s Franklin Barreto to strike out swinging and therefore got himself out of the jam, which is great, but it would have been nice to not allow any men on at all, of course. There is always more work to be done, always room for improvement.
DJ Peterson did what DJ Peterson seems to do in the bottom of the 8th, and took new arm AJ Puk yard against the wind. I am really hoping Peterson makes good progress this year. Puk walked Rayder Ascanio, who was behind Tuffy Gosewich at second. Everett Aquaso(ck) Donnie Walton, and this is the point in the game where we’re getting to guys I haven’t really heard of due a severe lack of knowledged of our farm system. Walton struck out, a 5’10” swing against a 6’7″ pitch (AJ Puk is very tall). James Ramsey took a hack to short for a force out at second, and that was the end of that. Casey Fien pitched a clean 9th, and the Mariners batting lineup of Braden Bishop, Eric Filia and Joe DeCarlo (what is happening?!) Bishop slapped out a single against pitcher Ben Bracewell. Filia flew out to center field, and DeCarlo popped up to shallow right, but the A’s fielder who put the glove on it couldn’t keep the glove on it, and two men were on. DJ Peterson struck out, which put Tuffy Gosewich on to get nearly-beaned by the A’s before being called out on strikes by the ump, even though Gosewich clearly thought he had the walk. Gosewich got called out and that was the game, 5-4 Oakland.
A lot of people don’t get excited about spring training games because they don’t count towards the regular season, and some fans just feel like why bother investing themselves in “meaningless” baseball. And I get it, I do; you want to save that energy for Opening Day, you have things to do on the weekends that don’t involve watching 3-4 innings of our guys and the bulk of the game played by prospects. I understand. But I didn’t spend the last few months of wind and cold and rain in this ridiculous wonderful city to NOT watch these games when I can. It may be meaningless baseball, but it means something to me; and I’ll be back on the couch this Wednesday at 6 when they do it again against the Cleveland Indians.
Also, reminder, we are still on for the 18th over here at Beveridge Place for Mariners v Giants! The more the merrier!