ADDITIONAL NOTE: As reported earlier, the Mariners indeed did make a series of roster moves today that involve, among others, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. Walker, as we reported, is going to minor league camp while Hultzen and Paxton were optioned to Class AAA. Hector Noesi was also optioned to AAA while Jhonny Nunez goes to minr league camp.
The Mariners were down by six runs at one point, but used the long ball to get back in the game and eventually defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-7. Mike Zunino provided the decisive blast, a solo shot over the wall deep in left-center off Drew Hayes.
The second homer this spring by Zunino drew a rousing cheer from the crowd of 6,504 at Peoria Stadium.
Brandon Maurer gets the win, going four scoreless innings and needing just 51 pitches to do it. Oliver Perez came on and got the save.
“He rushed through a couple of pitches at times, but he was able to fix it so that’s a good sign,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Maurer, battling for a berth in the rotation or as a potential long man in the bullpen. “His stuff was good again, like it was in his last outing. The baseball was doing what he wants it to do and it’s obviously good stuff. So, he’s been pretty impressive.”
Maurer did yield three hits and walked a pair of batters among the 15 he faced. But he also notched four strikeouts and then got out of a two-on none-out jam in the eighth by getting Miguel Olivo to pop out to right and Felix Perez to ground into a double play.
I asked Wedge what he’s looking at, specifically, with Maurer when it comes to making the call on whether he’s big league ready. Don’t forget, he only pitched in Class AA last year, winning the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Wedge said. “I think, how he handles himself being a young pitcher. Two, how his stuff plays against big league hitters. And then, you just look at how he continues to climb and how we build him up and how he continues to handle different situations. And the way he works through those situations. So far, we’ve seen all good things.”
Maurer has looked sharp throwing all four of his pitches this spring.
“He’s very confident,” Wedge said. “He’s really able to throw any pitch at any time. He’s done a better job of slowing himself down and righting himself as he gets through the course of the ballgame. But most importantly, the baseball is doing what he wants it to do and he’s got a lot of action on it.”