M's Drop Game Two, Youngsters Shine

The game, news and notes, and InsidethePark.com's Joe Kaiser and Jason A. Churchill share their observations from Peoria for the start of the Cactus League schedule.


PEORIA - The Seattle Mariners dropped their second straight game in Cactus League play on Saturday, managing just six hits in a 5-2 loss to San Diego at an overcast Peoria Sports Complex.

The Mariners scored both of their runs in the ninth inning, getting hits from Ramon Santiago, Greg Dobbs and Michael Morse off of Padres' non-roster invitee Danny Patterson. Yuniesky Betancourt, who came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, brought the tying run to the plate but popped out to shortstop Matt Bush to end the game.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Mariners and looked sharp in two innings of work, allowing no hits or runs, but the bigger story was the first spring appearance of 18-year-old phenom Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez, who turns 19 April 8, was hardly in mid-season form; he walked a batter and plunked San Diego's leadoff man Dave Roberts with two outs in the inning. Still, the Padres failed to push a run across against the flame-throwing right-hander in his single inning of work.

Greg Wear, Jason Snyder and Clint Nageotte each followed with scoreless innings of their own against the Padres, which picked up a run off of reliever George Sherrill with two outs in the fifth and four more off right-hander Mike Hrynio in the sixth. Hrynio pitched at Intermediate-A Wisconsin in 2004.

Other Mariners to record hits were Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and Jeremy Reed, who also drew a walk.

Joe Dawley, a 33-year-old non-roster invitee, picked up the win for the Padres. Sherrill took the hard-luck loss for the Mariners.


PLAY OF THE GAME:

Michael at the Bat - With the Mariners trailing 5-1 in the top of the ninth, shortstop Mike Morse stepped to the plate with two outs, two men on and a chance to make the game interesting. Ramon Santiago had just doubled in Greg Dobbs to get the M's on the board and catcher Ryan Christianson drew a walk to put runners on first and second and bring up the former Chicago White Sox farm hand. Morse quickly fell behind in the count at a ball and two strikes to veteran right-handed reliever, Danny Patterson.

Morse took a slider for ball two, a pitch that barely missed the corner. On two successive 2-2 pitches, Morse hit sharply stroked line drives down the left field line. Both were foul, the first landed more than 400 feet from the batter's box.

Morse took the third 2-2 pitch for ball three, a fastball just off the outer edge, to set up the full count. Morse than ripped Patterson's payoff pitch on a line up the middle and into center field to score Santiago and send Christianson to second.

The at-bat by Morse versus a nine-year major league veteran was as impressive as the 23-year-old needs to be this season to convince the Mariners he is one to pay attention to.


PLAYERS OF THE DAY:

Clint Nageotte, RHP - Nageotte made his first appearance of the spring a success by toiling the sharpest inning of any pitcher on either side of the field. The 24-year-old pitched a perfect eighth, inducing two ground balls and recording a strikeout.

Nageotte struggled with his command last season and never found the groove that allowed him to lead his league in strikeouts three years in a row prior to 2004. But on Saturday, the 6-foot-3 right-hander was on his game, piercing the corners with a low-90's fastball and his slider, one of the game's best breaking balls.

The M's 5th-round pick in 1999 needed just 11 pitches to dispose of the Padres, getting two weak rollers to the infield sandwiched around a punchout of last June's top overall pick, Matt Bush. Nageotte threw eight of his 11 pitches for strikes.

Jason Snyder, RHP - Snyder relieved right-hander Mike Hrynio with two outs in the sixth, completing the inning and tossing a scoreless seventh as well. The right-hander started slow, throwing four of his first six pitches clear of the strike zone, but after starting the seventh frame fresh, the 22-year-old was stellar, striking out two batters and not allowing a hit.

Snyder threw 24 pitches in his 1.1 innings of work, catching the strike zone 14 times with his last 21 offerings. His fastball touched 90 mph with his fastball, Snyder threw his curve ball well and mixed in a handful of much-improved change-ups that kept hitters off balance.


DEEP THOUGHTS, by InsidethePark.com

  • Shortstop Jose Lopez is trimmed down from his playing weight of 196 last season. The 21-year-old showed more athleticism and clearly was more mobile and active in the field and at the plate
  • Felix Hernandez is a stud
  • Catcher Rene Rivera showed off his strong arm during pre-game infield work. Then the M's 2001 2nd rounder was promptly shown up by Miguel Olivo, who possesses one of the best throwing arms of any catcher in baseball. Both catchers were throwing well all over the diamond
  • Bucky Jacobsen did not play Saturday, but is another Mariner that reported to camp in better shape than a year ago. The 6-foot-4 designated hitter focused his offseason workout regimen toward lightening the load on his surgically repaired knee – mission accomplished
  • Newly signed 23-year-old Yunieksy Betancourt took over at shortstop for Jose Lopez when he pinch-hit in the seventh inning. The Cuban-born infielder grounded to short versus Padres relievers Rudy Seanez and then popped to short in the ninth innings to end the game. Betancourt appeared comfortable at the dish and handled the 93 mph heat that Seanez was showing him
  • Felix Hernandez is a stud
  • M's new third base coach Jeff Newman is a mammoth of a man. The former Indians coach, who stands at 6-foot-3 and is anything but slight in build, did a fantastic job of blocking the sun in the fourth inning as he manned his coaches box down the third base line
  • The game drew a relatively small crowd of 8,215 for the first game at the Peoria Sports Complex. The inconsistent and inclement weather is likely part of the reasoning for the partially empty stands
  • Dobbs' single in the ninth inning wasn't exactly conventional. After hitting a line-drive shot up the middle, Dobbs raced to the first base bag only to find Padres first baseman Paul McAnulty blocking his path. Dobbs stabbed his foot at the bag then went for the hurdle, awkwardly jumping over the defender. He was ruled safe. "I knew I had to get that single," he joked after the game, signing autographs alongside McAnulty
  • Matt Tuiasosopo, the Mariners top pick in 2004 out of Woodinville High, came in as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. He struck out on an inside fastball and never took the field for defense.
  • Padres pitcher Joe Dawley poked a single to right field, driving in Jesse Garcia, who had tripled one batter earlier. The soft liner was just out of the reach of first baseman Richie Sexson, who stands at 6-feet-8 with a reach not unlike that of a large Northwest Hawk. I knew we should have signed a 7-foot first baseman. I hear Rik Smits is looking for work. You need the Dutchmen's number, Mr. Bavasi?
  • Felix Hernandez is a stud
  • Scott Spiezio appeared in right field, replacing Ichiro midway through the game. If he sticks in that role, it will be a drastic change from last season, when he played exclusively at the corner infield positions. Earlier in the week, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove told the media that Spiezio could also see action at second base, a position the veteran began his pro career at as a member of the Oakland A's organization
  • Ricky Gutierrez got the start at second base in place of Bret Boone, and went 0-3 at the plate
  • Michael Morse isn't just tall for a shortstop, standing at 6-feet-5, the dude is tall for an NBA guard
  • In case you missed it - Felix Hernandez is a stud


  • SHORTSTOP TALK:


    Adam Jones was called on to pinch hit for starting pitcher Jamie Moyer in the top of the third inning and flew out to right field in his only at-bat. His Padres counterpart, 2004's first overall draft pick Matt Bush, went 0-2. Bush played three innings in the field, displaying solid footwork, a plus arm and good range.

    Jones, (Seen here talking it up with Bush, No. 93) was the Mariner's first-round choice in 2003 and is expected to start the season in the California League with the Inland Empire 66ers. The 19-year-old San Diego native hit .267 with 11 home runs and 72 RBI last season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League.


    QUOTE OF THE DAY:

    "You just totally wasted a peanut!" – Fan in row three with 'Shaq' tattoo explaining to his friend the consequences of dropping a full peanut shell to the stadium floor.



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