One-for-Nine

The Mariners are already slumping. But minus one lackluster performance Friday, the M's had a decent showing offensively and on the hill. The 8-7 loss dropped the M's to 1-8 on the Cactus League season.



FINAL
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Colorado
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Seattle
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Win - M. Carvajal (1-0)
Loss – R. Villone (0-1)
HR - T. Olson (1), J. Salazar (1)
Att: 8,362


PEORIA, Ari. PEORIA, Ari. – Seattle's offense finally snapped out of a week-long funk on Friday, ripping Colorado pitching for 11 hits, but poor pitching from Ron Villone and shoddy defense from Benji Gil did the Mariners in. The Rockies jumped ahead off of Villone in the sixth inning on a Tim Olson grand slam and held on for an 8-7 win at Peoria Sports Complex.

The Mariners (1-8) came back to make it close with two runs in their half of the sixth, getting a run-scoring double from Jose Lopez and a RBI single by Shin-soo Choo to make it a one-run game heading into the seventh.

Rockies' relievers Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Chiasson combined to hold the Mariners to one-hit over the final three innings to preserve the win for the Rockies.

Earlier in the game, Seattle looked to be in complete control after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jeremy Reed tripled to right center and Adrian Beltre drove him in a batter later on a double down the left field line. After advancing to third base on a Richie Sexson groundout to third (yes, you read that right), Beltre scored the M's second run on a wild pitch from Colorado starter Jason Young.

The Rockies didn't go away, though, and chipped away with a run in the second inning on a Greg Norton RBI single off of Seattle starter Gil Meche.

Meche pitched well in three innings of work, allowing only that one run. He struck out four, showing improved command of his fastball and curveball.

Colorado took the lead in the fifth, but only temporarily, when Gil booted an easy ground ball to allow two runs to score with two outs. The Mariners came right back with three in their half of the inning as Ichiro Suzuki singled to score Dan Wilson and get the momentum rolling. Reed followed with a double down the right field line to score Ramon Santiago, who walked earlier in the inning after pinch-hitting for Gil. The next batter, Greg Dobbs, singled home Ichiro from third base.

That's where the score stayed until Villone entered the picture. Villone, resigned in the offseason after a stellar 2004 campaign, hadn't pitched much this spring and it showed. He was tagged for seven runs, five of which were earned, on five hits in two innings of work. The grand slam shot over the left field wall by Olson did the bulk of the damage, and Jeff Salazar's solo homer later in the inning only added to the southpaw's woes.

Dan Reichert, a non-roster invitee who struggled in his first appearance, struck out two in a perfect seventh inning. J.J. Putz struck out two and allowed on hit over the final two innings.

Reed continued his hot spring with two hits on the day, the only Mariner with more than one. He is batting .381 this March.


PLAY OF THE DAY:

SPIEZIO DOES IT - Scott Spiezio, playing multiple positions this spring, got the start at third base on Friday afternoon and made a sensational diving stab of a ball hit by Rockies DH Andy Tracy. Spiezio dove to his left snagging the sharply struck ball, got up and fired to first where Richie Sexson made the dig of the low throw. Finally, some flashy defense.


PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

Jeremy Reed, CF - Reed just keeps hitting, and hitting, and hitting... and hitting. The M's center fielder tripled in the first inning and scored on Adrian Beltre's double and in his third and final at-bat in the fifth inning, doubled Ichiro in from first. Reed is hitting .381 on the spring and has gotten most of his plate appearances from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Whether that means anything at this point in the spring, only time will tell what manager Mike Hargrove prefers with the batting order. One thing is glaringly clear, however; Reed can hit, regardless of what slot in the order he is hitting from. But he is clearly comfortable hitting behind Ichiro and in front of Beltre. But then again, who wouldn't be?

J.J. Putz, RHP - The big right-hander went two shutout innings and the only hit allowed was a bunt single. Putz threw 23 pitches total, 18 for strikes – all but six were of the fastball variety.


DEEP THOUGHTS, by InsidethePark.com

  • Ron Villone made his second spring appearance and didn't look great. His line is a bit deceiving, however, considering it was only his second stint. The left-hander tossed 30 pitches, 21 for strikes, but had trouble putting hitters away once he was ahead in the count.
  • The common question around Peoria Sports Complex these days amongst the Mariners fans is, "who's this Benji Gil guy?" Gil, a one-time top prospect with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, is a non-roster invitee for the Mariners this spring who doesn't seem to have a place in Seattle's organization. Gil made another error Friday, this time as the second baseman after flopping around in right field and making an error earlier in the week, when replacing Ichiro in the field. Can it become any clearer that he has no place on the Mariners roster? Gil ‘mosied' to his right and failed to even get a glove on a ball hit up the middle that seemed like a grounder that even Bucky Jacobsen would have flagged down with great ease. Then came the actual error. Gil couldn't field a routine ground ball just a few feet to his left and two runs scored on the play – with TWO outs! Gil's days as a Mariner are numbered – if you even consider ZERO a number. Ricky Gutierrez and Willie Bloomquist have lapped Gil in the battle for the utility infield job so many times over that Gil needs a ride on the local expressway to catch up.
  • When the M's took a 2-0 lead in the first, it was the first lead they had produced since the top of the ninth inning in their lone victory of the spring versus Milwaukee on Tuesday. During Cactus League play, the Mariners have trailed for 58 of the 73 innings played.
  • Ramon Santiago added another hit to his history of hot spring training hitting. Taking over for Gil at second base in the fifth, Santiago shot a double down the fight field line in the sixth inning and is hitting .300 for the spring.
  • Sin-soo Choo punched a sharp ground ball through the right side on Friday and pushed his spring average to .333. Choo's single drove in Jose Lopez.
  • Jose Lopez and Justin leone each had doubles on Friday. For Leone it was his first hit of the Cactus League season in six at-bats. Lopez smacked a two-bagger to deep right-center, driving in Santiago on the play. In his second at-bat, Lopez fell behind 1-2 and worked a walk versus Rockies pitching prospect Ubaldo Jimenez. The 21-year-old Lopez is hitting .357 this spring.
  • Right-hander Dan Reichert could make a case for role in the bullpen after a scoreless frame on Friday. The former Royals hurler needed just eight pitches to mow down three Colorado hitters in the seventh, striking out two without allowing a hit or a walk.
  • Richie Sexson went 0-3 Friday, making him 0-15 on the spring. The slugger has walked five times and struck out six.
  • Gil Meche had a solid outing in his second start this month. The 26-year-old threw 46 pitches in three innings, allowing a run on two hits. Meche fanned four and walked just one. Meche threw 28 pitches for strikes.
  • The M's made three more errors Friday, raising their spring total to 12.
  • Mariners fans in attendance Friday got a good laugh in the sixth inning when the scoreboard operator gave Seattle four runs after Colorado's Tim Olson smacked a grand slam off of Ron Villone. The score remained that way for several minutes, showing the Mariners ahead 9-3 rather than the correct score of 7-5 Rockies. Turns out, the M's needed those four runs.
  • Mariners' minor league position players don't report for their first day of full workouts until Sunday, but plenty of them took today as an opportunity to check out the Mariners big league game. Yung Chi Chen, Adam Jones, Michael Wilson, Chris Colton, Josh Ellison and Gary Harris were all in attendance, watching the game from the walkway behind homeplate.



  • QUOTE OF THE DAY:

    "The way I figure, if you can't hit your weight you either have to lose weight or just take a lot more batting practice." – 60-year-old Mariners fan in the left field bleachers reacting to the announcement of Scott Spiezio at the plate.



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