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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 3, 2007 at 2:19 PM

Final score: Padres 1, Mariners 0

The fans are still filing out of the stadium and no doubt a few of them are feeling slightly cheated by the lack of on-field action. There are only two ways a team can sell a game like this — featuring 10 hits total by both teams and only one for extra bases. They can say the hitting stank, or that the pitching was great.
The latter is the way Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was selling it down on the field a few moments ago as his team headed for the clubhouse. Hargrove isn’t going to sound any alarm bells on March 3, even if his team has scored just five runs over the first three exhibition games played here. He mentioned the pitching several times, especially the work of young lefty Justin Thomas, who came out of nowhere to toss two scoreless innings.
Aaron Small was supposed to work those frames, but was a late scratch because of back spasms. Thomas is here as part of the team’s off-season workout program for minor leaguers and was listed as an emergency backup before the game. But when Small came up lame, Thomas was inserted in the fifth inning, faced the minimum six batters through two frames and fanned three of them.
That’s the good news.
From my perspective, this game would have been an easier sell as a pitcher’s duel if it was Felix Hernandez and Jake Peavy going toe-to-toe for nine innings. Not when the mound guys included the likes of Thomas, Jesse Foppert, Cesar Jimenez and other minor leaguers who won’t be around the team come April.
The only pitcher who really mattered for Seattle fans today was Washburn and we’ve already chronicled his results.
As for the rest of it, Seattle watched the leadoff hitter reach base in five of the nine innings. Only once did that runner advance to second base and that came on a wild pitch in the eighth. The Mariners grounded into three inning-ending double-plays, including a 6-4-3 job by Mike Morse in the ninth.
Hargrove says the Mariners battled themselves into good position at the plate with quality at-bats and at least that’s a good sign. It is still early, these things ebb and flow and there’s nothing to panic about just yet. But it wasn’t pretty to watch and there’s no way around it. Even the stadium’s public address announcer seemed to be dozing off, telling the crowd after the top of the ninth: “Well, that’s our ballgame today folks. The Mariners win 1-0!”
At that point, the boos rang out across the ballpark and the announcer quickly corrected himself. At least this was a quick execution by the Padres, pulled off in two hours, six minutes. Time for all to go and enjoy the sunshine.
*****NOTE ON THOMAS*******
This is meant for “Willmore” and his comment down below. No need to be snarky, I’m well-aware of who Thomas is, his prospect status and the fact he strikes out a hitter an inning. But I’m not overly concerned about a Class A pitcher who might help this team in a few years, or could blow up when he reaches Class AA. The Mariners have a lot to figure out this season with the five pitchers already in the rotation. Small still has a shot to land a bullpen job. Hey, I said that Thomas pitched well. What else do you want? If he does it again, maybe we’ll do a full story on him. But there are a lot more pressing issues for the club right now.



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