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This was your typical spring training affair and it ended with the Mariners on top. The Mariners were pretty much dominated all day by the Angels, but then the substitutes and minor leaguers came in and things quickly changed. A four-run eighth inning by Seattle, combined with a run-scoring hit in the ninth by Julio Morban gave the Mariners a 9-8 comeback win.
Francisco Martinez lined a one-out triple into the right field corner, then scored the winning run when Morban drove a pitch over the right fielder’s head.
“It’s good to see the young kids up there ready to hit,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I think Morban is a good example right there. You’ve got the winning run up there, he’s up there ready to hit, gets a pitch to hit and he did what he was supposed to do with it.”
Martinez and Morban finished with two hits apiece.
Wedge said he’s seeing better at-bats overall in this camp than he did the previous two. We’ll see whether that carries over.
Back before all the late fireworks, Alex Liddi helped the Mariners cut into a 7-2 deficit with atwo-run homer to left field. Brendan Ryan also hit asolo home run today, so the Mariners have certainly connected at the plate during this three-game Cactus League win streak.
Justin Smoak went 2-for-2 today with that hard-hit liner to center for a single and the double to right field earlier on, both hits coming from aleft side that’s been difficult for him in the past. Dustin Ackley added a triple to left center in his first game action this spring, though he looked somewhat tentative in the field at times. Wedge said it might take a while for Ackley to feel comfortable with his ankle after the bone spur surgery he had last October.
Jeremy Bonderman got to pitch again for the first time since 2010 and got through the first inning, though he served up a three-run homer to Hank Conger on a slider and trailed 3-0 when he left.
Bonderman said it was good to get back in a game after all his injury woes of the past several years. He figured he’d never pitch again, right up until last year when his arm finally felt healthy again,
“Once I finally got healthy, I just wanted to give it a shot,” he said. “At least go out on my own terms, knowing I didn’t just walk away because I was hurt. I wanted to just go back out and see what happens.”
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Bonderman had previously felt burned out by all his injuries and that contributed to his leaving the game. But once he made that commitment to try again, he was in it for the long haul. He says it wasn’t a matter of just showing up here and trying it for a few days.
“When I decided to come back, it wasn’t just ‘Oh,I’m going to give it a shot’,” he said. “I worked hard and I put my time in every day. I’m down here for the long haul. I came down here to see what I can do. If at the end of camp, they tell me ‘We don’t need you’ then I’ll go home.”
Bonderman felt he kept the ball down like he wanted to today. His slider wasn’t as effective as his fastball, but he figures that will come with time.
“I was impressed with what we saw,” Wedge said. “He wasn’t really catching up with the breaking ball, but the action was there. He was just a little bit tardy with that. But that’s something you expect to come a little bit later. Usually it’s the secondary stuff, in particular the breaking pitches, that are more of a feel and a slot. But overall, I was really happy with what we saw.”
Another pitcher Wedge was even more pleased with was young Brandon Maurer, who might have the best chance of any minor leaguer at cracking the rotation this spring. Maurer was the organization’s Pitcher of the Year in Class AA last season and made his spring debut today with a scoreless second inning in which he began with a strikeout, yielded an infield hit, then got a double play grounder to get out of trouble.
His fastball was up about 94 mph and he didn’t appear fazed by the competition.
“He’s been impressive all camp,” Wedge said. “He wasvery impressive last year for us in the minor leagues and I think he’s got everybody’s attention right now.”