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PEORIA - Seattle squandered a late three-run lead Sunday against San Diego in its Cactus League home opener at Peoria Sports Complex and allowed three runs in the 10th on its way to a 9-6 loss. It was the third-straight defeat for the Mariners since spring training games started on Friday afternoon.
The Mariners clung to a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth inning with hard-throwing left-hander Jared Thomas in to close the deal. Much to the dismay of manager Mike Hargrove and those M's fans in attendance, the Padres knotted the score on a solo home run by Jesse Garcia to extend the ball game.
Seattle had led 6-3 going into eighth inning, but the Padres were able to pounce on right-hander Rick Guttormson for two runs in the inning to get within striking distance and ultimately set the stage for Garcia's big hit.
Reliever Chris Key came in for Seattle in the 10th and struggled mightily, walking the first batter he faced and hitting the second before giving up a run-scoring double to Michael Hernandez. Humberto Quintero then drove home two more runs with a line drive to right field that was mishandled Shin-soo Choo, allowing Quintero to move to third base on the play.
The Mariners were retired 1-2-3 in the ninth, putting a damper on good days from several of the Mariners players.
Choo hit his first homer of the spring in the seventh inning, putting the M's ahead 6-3 at the time, on a line-drive that cleared the right field wall.
Randy Winn and Jeremy Reed each had two hits for Seattle, while pitchers Cha-Seung Baek and Nate Bland hurled two scoreless innings apiece.
M's starter Gil Meche got the start, and gave up two earned runs in two innings, walking two and striking out one along the way.
The M's play Milwaukee at Peoria Sports Complex on Monday. Thomas Oldham, one of Seattle's up-and-coming southpaw pitchers, is expected to make his spring debut at some point in the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Choo Does Yard Work - The M's No. 3 rated prospect took over for Ichiro in right field in the sixth inning and led off the bottom of the seventh against former M's left-hander Randy Williams, who was traded to the Padres this past winter. Choo took a 2-1 fastball and served it deep over the right field fence to extend the lead to 6-3.
After another adventurous day in the outfield for Choo, the bomb was a bit of redemption for the 23-year-old Korean native. In the seventh, Choo dove for a soft liner and had the ball bounce off of his glove and trickle away from him as he picked himself up off the grass. But he didn't know which direction the ball ended up and all runners took an extra base.
But this day will be remembered as the day Choo went yard. The 400-foot blast sailed over the head of Brian Giles and onto the lawn in right field – a true no-doubter.
PLAYERS OF THE DAY:
Cha Seung Baek, RHP - The right-handed Baek joined fellow countryman Shin-soo in forming ‘Shin-Cha Landscaping Inc.' as he mowed down six in a row over two perfect innings. Baek, 24, threw just 20 pitches, 13 for strikes and was locating his fastball, breaking ball and change up, all in unison.
Baek is vying for one of the open spots on the roster, either a long relief role or, less likely, the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
Baek is scheduled to take the next three games off and see action on either Thursday or Friday.
Jeremy Reed, CF - Reed collected two more hits on the day, both coming after a strikeout in his first at-bat of the game. In the fifth, Reed laid down a perfect bunt up the first base line that had the first baseman confused on who would get the ball and who would cover first. The pitcher went for the slow roller, but by the time he got to the ball that nearly stopped in its tracks 65 feet up the line, Reed was running past him and through the bag at first.
Reed's bunt started a three-run rally when Ichiro and Randy Winn hit back-to-back triples and Adrian Beltre hit a sac fly to center field.
Reed, 23, added a low-line drive single in the seventh, a skipping shot that was fielded on the dive by Padres second baseman Damian Jackson. The throw had no chance of getting Reed at first or Dan Wilson at second. Wilson had blooped a single to center before Reed stepped to the plate.
DEEP THOUGHTS, by InsidethePark.com
While the San Diego Padres top prospects all came via the First Year Player's Draft, the Seattle Mariners have scoured the international scene for their top young talent. The Padres boast draftees such as Josh Barfield, Matt Bush, Tim Stauffer, George Kottaras and Travis Chick – all drafted. The only non-drafted free agent in the Padres top 10 is Freddy Guzman, a speedy outfielder who may start the year as the starting center fielder.
Seattle's top 10 consists of five draftees and none of their top four were acquired via the draft. Felix Hernandez 1), Shin-soo Choo (3), Travis Blackley (4), Asdrubal Cabrera (8) and Wladimir Balentien (9) are all international signings. No. 2 prospect, Jeremy Reed, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of 2002 draft. Adam Jones was the M's first rounder in 2003 while Clint Nageotte (5) was drafted in the fifth round in 1999 and No. 6 prospect, Matt Tuiasosopo, was taken in the third round of last June's draft.
QUOTES OF THE DAY:
"Hold on Rachel, I wanna see Adrian Beltre." - Toddler as she tries to get her 2-year-old sister to leave her alone while the $64 million man comes to the plate.
"Overtime!" - Random fan from the cheap seats as the Padres recorded the final out in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings
"What's a Furmaniak?" - Same toddler asks her dad as San Diego shortstop J.J. Furmaniak is announced as the next batter.