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March 10, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Special perfomance by young Mariners quartet tonight

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You don’t always get to see stuff like this in Cactus League play. But the Mariners tonight unleashed what they hope is a preview of things to come on the mound for the next several years.
One thing is for sure. All of baseball will likely be buzzing tomorrow about what we just saw from Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. They pretty much blew away an Arizona Diamondbacks lineup with plenty of good major leaguers on it.
The dangerous Justin Upton hit into a first-inning double play against Ramirez and the tone for the night was set. Seattle’s quartet allowed just one run on four hits while striking out eight batters over eight innings of an eventual 7-1 win by the Mariners.
Arizona’s only run came against Paxton after he’d walked his first two batters. But it took a wild-pitch with two out to get the run home and Paxton finished with four strikeouts in his two innings.
Walker was the only one to go just one inning, but what a frame that was. The stadium was positively buzzing after he struck out veterans Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald to start his outing off.
All of the young arms did something special tonight, each in their own way. Ramirez threw just 28 pitches, 23 of them for strikes.
“You tell yourself to try to forget about whether you’re facing big league or minor league hitters,” Ramirez said. “But when you see the hitter and that it’s (Justin) Upton and he’s hitttng, you remember everything. It’s like ‘Oh my God, it’s a big leaguer!’ ”


Ramirez looked s strong, the team had him throw another 15 pitches in the bullpen. He told me they wanted him to simulate an actual inning against three different hitters, which is what he tried to do.
His game plan last night? Just keep hitting the mitt of catcher Jesus Montero — who, by the way, had three RBI as did Munenori Kawasaki.
Hultzen said he’d pitched in front of bigger crowds in college than the 12,510 people here.
“I think the difference here is that there were 12,000 for the Diamondbacks ,” he said. “In Omaha, it was kind of split. There were just baseball fans out there.”
But he just did what all of the youngsters keep doing.
“You have to always remind yourself that it’s just baseball out there,” Hultzen said. “You don’t have to do anything special.”
This is going to get noticed around the game. I was sitting next to SBN’s Rob Neyer during the game and he was continuously amazed by what he was seeing from the young hurlers with their relative inexperience. Only Ramirez has pitched in Class AAA.
As I was leaving the clubhouse, Ken Rosenthal of FOX walked in right after me to chat with the young pitchers.
So, yeah, expect some buzz about this game. There should be. This was not the type of debut you see from this many young guys in a row all that often.
Will any of them head north to start the year? No way. Sure it’s tempting, but won’t happen. The Mariners don’t want to start anyone’s arbitration or free agency clock just yet and that relative inexperience level I just mentioned has the club not wanting to rush anyone no matter how good the spring stats.
The team has capable major leaguers and Hisashi Iwakuma’s four innings today alleviated concerns about him. Enough that the M’s won’t have to panic and look beyond Kevin Millwood, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi to fill the rest of the rotation.
But make no mistake: what we saw tonight put the rest of MLB on notice. Some of these young arms will be in The Show sooner rather than later. Bank on it.

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesus Montero

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