No Surprise, M's Shutout by Royals

Felix struggled, the offense never got going and the defense reminded those in attendance of the Bad News Bears. It all spelled L-O-S-S for the Mariners on Wednesday versus Kansas City, dropping Seattle's spring record to 1-6.



FINAL
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Seattle
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Kansas City
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Win - J. Lima (1-0)
Loss – F. Hernandez (0-1)
HR - NONE
Att: 4,361


SURPRISE, Ari. – Eighteen-year-old phenom Felix Hernandez was scheduled to pitch three innings Wednesday against Kansas City in his first start of the spring. Instead, the flame-throwing right-hander lasted less than two, giving up four runs in the first and getting only two outs in the second before being relieved by Ricky Guttormson. King Felix's shaky performance set the tone for the Mariners, which fell to the Royals 6-0, and dropped to 1-6 in Cactus League play.

Two of Hernandez's runs in the first inning were unearned, coming after an error on first baseman Richie Sexson. Sexson, one of Seattle's key acquisitions over the winter, had a second error in the third. Both came on ground balls.

Adrian Beltre (ground ball) and Justin Leone (throw) also had errors, as the Mariners finished with four on the day. Beltre did finish with two hits, however, as did Ricky Guttierez.

Ichiro Suzuki, Randy Winn and Jose Lopez each added a hit for Seattle, which finished with seven for the game.

Jose Lima got the start for the Royals and earned the win, pitching his way out of jams in each of the first three innings. Seattle loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but No. 9 hitter Jamal Stong struck out on three pitches and Ichiro grounded to first base to end the threat.

After Hernandez, who took the loss to drop to 0-1 on the spring, the Mariners got excellent relief from left-hander Jared Thomas and righties Clint Nageotte and Mike Steele.

Steele didn't allow a hit and struck out two in the fourth inning.

Thomas, a hard-thrower who pitched at Double-A San Antonio last season, hurled two impressive innings after coming in to start the fifth. Thomas showed excellent command of a curveball and used his change-up well, which helped hide his lack of control with his fastball. He struck out four, walked two and allowed two hits.

Nageotte continued to be the most impressive pitcher in major league camp thus far, throwing two innings of one-hit ball. He struck out one.

The Mariners return to Peoria for a stretch of three home games starting on Thursday, when they welcome the loveable Chicago Cubs to town.


PLAY OF THE DAY:

Gutty Performance- Rick Guttormson relieved Felix Hernandez in the bottom of the second inning and got out the jam without allowing any more runs to skate in. Already down 4-0, Guttormson ended the inning by getting shortstop Angel Berroa to fly out.

The right-hander spent all of last season with Double-A San Antonio, saving 25 games and posting a 3.29 ERA in the Texas League.

Guttormson is slated for the bullpen in Triple-A Tacoma.


PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

Clint Nageotte, RHP - Nageotte had his second strong outing this spring with two more sharp innings. The 24-year-old allowed one unearned run on one hit, did not walk a batter and struck out Emil Brown to retire the side in order in his second and final inning.

Nageotte threw 26 pitches, 17 for strikes, and had command of both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs as well as his slider.

Nageotte mixed in a few change-ups, giving the hitters something else to look at instead of overthrowing his slider, as he has been known to do in the past.

Through a week's worth of games, Nageotte has easily been the sharpest of any of the young pitchers in camp and it appears the right-hander is back to the form he displayed in 2003 when he led the circuit in strikeouts and posted a 3.10 ERA in the Texas League.

With virtually no chance of breaking camp with the big club, Nageotte figures into the Tacoma Rainiers starting rotation but could be at the top of the list of call-up candidates should the M's need an arm – or if he simply gives the team no choice but to see what he can do in the majors.

Willie Bloomquist, CF - For the second straight day, the Sun Devil gets the nod. Bloomquist played just three full innings and flied to center in his only at-bat, but the versatility in him is growing each day. Bloomquist showed some promise in center field again, chasing down a long fly ball on the warning track in right-center field and nearly tracking a liner into the gap in left-center when Ricky Gutierrez failed to get a jump on the ball.

Three days, four games; Willie is already putting distance between himself and the other players battling for the utility spot on the roster.

Jared Thomas, LHP - Thomas went two shutout innings, striking out four Royals batters and allowing just two hits. The 24-year-old southpaw could be looking at opening the season in Triple-A Tacoma as the main left-handed setup man.

Thomas came in following Mike Steele's scoreless fourth inning and kept the Royals at bay, giving the offense a fighting chance.


DEEP THOUGHTS, by InsidethePark.com

  • Felix Hernandez struggled with his command Wednesday afternoon, but had no problemos getting his heater into the mid-90's. The 18-year-old phenom sat in the 92-95 range with the 24 fastballs he threw, touching 96 and 97 once each.
  • Bret Boone sat out of today's game and is listed as day-to-day with an injury suffered in Tuesday's split-squad game in Tempe versus the Los Angeles Angels.
  • Former Mariners Luis Ugueto and Brian Hunter made appearances for the Royals in the final two innings. Ugueto took over at second base and Hunter played center field.
  • The M's committed four more errors to bring their spring total to nine in just six games.
  • Of the announced attendance of 4,361 at Surprise Sports Complex, nearly half appeared to be Mariners fans. The Royals, which share the complex with the Texas Rangers, play only about 10 miles west of the Mariners' facility in Peoria, just down Bell Road.
  • Royals LHP Andy Sisco, an Eastlake High product and former top prospect of the Chicago Cubs who was drafted 46th overall in 2001, mowed the Mariners down in the eighth with overpowering stuff. Sisco signed a $1 million signing bonus with the Cubs in 2001, but injuries and ineffectiveness led Chicago to keep him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft over the winter and Kansas City selected him with the second selection. He'll have to remain on the Royals 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Cubs for $25,000.
  • Dan Wilson is still loved, and one only needed to attend today's game to witness that. As Wilson approached home plate for his first at bat of the day, the crowd behind home plate began to cheer loudly before his name was even announced. Having been with Mariners since 1993, it's hard not to love Dan the Man.
  • Jamal Strong, who hasn't been used much by manager Mike Hargrove in an effort to fully allow his surgically repaired knee to heal, started the game in center field. While the speedy outfielder showed great range and an above-average throwing arm, he wasn't as fortunate at the plate. In two at bats, Strong struck out on three-straight pitches each time.



  • QUOTE OF THE DAY:

    "No, I'm not gonna make you sit in your lawn seats." - Surprise Park usher to a relieved fan who was caught attempting to sneak up and sit in the infield seating area at the start of Wednesday's game.



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