Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker held the Cleveland Indians to a lone hit the first four innings, striking out six batters between them. Carlos Peguero then provided the offense with a pair of long home runs in a 5-1 in by the Mariners, their fifth in a row in Cactus League play. There was a bizarre moment in the eighth inning when play was delayed five minutes after a false fire alarm rang out, complete with a loud siren blast throughout the stadium and then a public address announcent telling people to leave their seats and evacuate the building.
Hundreds of fans began doing just that as confused players stood on the field watching with one out in the inning. You can see it in the video below. Some of the fans never came back when a second announcement told them of the false alarm. I guess they figured the home team was getting waxed anyway by that point.
The knock on Peguero has always been his plate discipline. He simply swings through too many pitches, strikes out too much and doesn’t have the OBP to justify a major league job. This spring, he drew two walks his first two plate appearances. That was one more than he had in 57 plate appearances with the Mariners last season.
Clearly, the Mariners are reluctant to give up on his massive power potential just yet. They already had two chances to do that this spring and opted instead to trade Shawn Kelley and Mike Carp rather than designate Peguero for assignment when they needed a roster spot. He almost certainly won’t make the club this spring, with the outfield looking very crowded. But if he wants the chance at a third call-up this coming season, he’ll have to show better plate discipline and continue to crush hittable pitches.
“I’m trying to hit one pitch in an at-bat,” he said. “I’m not trying to hit three or four pitches. Just try to concentrate on my pitch and then get a good swing on the pitch I want.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Peguero is trying to stand taller in the batter’s box and cut down on his swing.
“What you saw today is that he stayed on top of a few pitches,” Wedge said. “And when he does stay tall he’s a little bit shorter in his path to the baseball.”
On the pitching side, Hultzen and Walker turned in two innings apiece and looked dominant at times. Hultzen struggled with his command in the first inning, but escaped a bases loaded jam by fanning Ben Francisco. Then, he turned it up a notch in the second inning by getting the side 1-2-3 with two more strikeouts to finish with four.
“I think I was trying to do a little too much,” Hultzen said of the first inning. “I think I was trying to throw the ball a little too hard and that kind of took me out of my mechanics a little but.”
But then, one he “calmed down a little bit” he was able to get more of his pitches over for strikes. He hung one of his curveballs, but was pleased for the most part with how he wasable to land that pitch for strikes when he needed to. The adjustment he made between innings is, he admitted, something he wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago in his first camp.
“I honestly don’t think so,” he said. “That’s something that comes along with maturity and experience and just going through something like that. A year ago, I probably would have done the same thing. I probably would have even tried harder to just get it (the pitch) there instead of just relaxing and calming down. That does happen pretty often. Pitching is a game of adjustments and how quickly you make that adjustment.”
Wedge is going to be looking for stuff like that when deciding who makes the club and who doesn’t. Hultzen is still somewhat of a longshot to make the back of the rotation out of spring training. But adjusting on-the-fly like that — rather than his strikeout totals — probably earned him more points with Wedge than anything else today.
“I really don’t get caught up in numbers in spring training,” Wedge said, in reference to how Hultzen and Walker will be judged when it comes to deciding their readiness for the big leagues. “It’s more about ‘stuff’ how they handle themselves. What we feel like will play at the big league level at the start of the regular season. Of course, you look at their experience, you look at their path. Why they’re here and what got them here and then you put it all together.”
Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales each went 2-for-3 on the day. Ibanez had a double in Seattle’s three-run fourth inning, then fell down while rounding third on an RBI single by Michael Saunders. Ibanez later scored on a double-play grounder in any event. He told me after the game he had no idea why he faceplanted like that.
“Maybe it was that massive leg workout I did yesterday,” he quipped. “Honestly, I came around, stepped on the bag, then I just lost it. I guess I was out of control and just went down.”
In the end, it didn’t matter at all.
Hector Noesi took the mound in the sixth with a 5-0 lead — coincidentally, the same score he was on the downside of when he last walked off a mound two outs into last Friday’s spring debut — and managed to hold on to it. He gave up a pair of two-out singles, but got a called strikeout — his second of the day — to end the threat in his lone inning of work.