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March 21, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Game thread: Plenty to see here as Mariners take on Cubs

Jon Garland gave up a leadoff double in the first inning, but retired the side from there.

Jon Garland gave up a leadoff double in the first inning, but retired the side from there.

Well, a whole lot just happened here in a couple of innings and the Mariners trail 6-4 in the eighth. More importantly, Jon Garland got through six innings of two-run ball and might have been able to go a seventh had Dustin Ackley not prolonged the sixth with an error on a ground ball. As is, Garland needed only 70 pitches over six frames and had been slotted for 80.

So, yeah, I’d say he impressed the Mariners tonight overall. And yes, Garland expects an answer by tomorrow on whether he’ll make the rotation. That’s when he’s eligible to trigger his “out” clause and leave so the M’s have a decision to make.

“I think I’ve shown them everything I can,” he said. “Now, the decision’s on the,. There are a lot of young arms here who have proven themselves more than worthy.”

One of the young arms who had done just that didn’t fare so well tonight. Erasmo Ramirez got rocked for four runs while working the seventh and eighth innings, giving up a two-run homer to Brad Nelson in the eighth that put Chicago ahead. Ramirez entered with a 4-2 lead in the seventh and yielded four straight hits before finally recording an out on a sacrifice bunt.

Now, one bad outing does not ruin a spring. But you’ll remember last weekend, when Ramirez gave up two runs over six innings, he allowed five doubles and four of them were absolutely smoked to right-center by hitters who aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row in the big leagues. Ramirez himself felt he was lucky those balls didn’t leave the park and had they done so, we’d be sitting here talking about how he got rocked in consecutive outings.

Worth considering, since the Mariners now face some tough calls. On Garland, it shouldn’t be that tough. He should only improve from here as he gets used to pitching again and tonight, he looked pretty close to his old self.

9:18 p.m.: Jon Garland is through two more innings and still has a 3-2 lead after five, though he elevated some of his pitches the past two frames and paid for it with another long ball in the fourth by Alfonso Soriano. With the count 2-2, Garland threw Soriano a second straight curveball — his strikeout-pitch tonight — and the Cubs veteran didn’t miss it when it stayed a bit up in the zone.

Garland gave up his first walk of the night in the fifth to Alberto Gonzalez, then saw David DeJesus line a first-pitch curve to right field, but right at Michael Saunders for the final out.

When Garland keeps the ball down, he’s been lights-out tonight. Where he’s had trouble is when his pitches start to elevate and center a bit too much.

So far, he’s kept his team ahead. I’m sure he’d like to finish strong in the sixth. He’s facing a decent lineup tonight and a stats line of six innings and two runs given up would not be too shabby.

Those Budweiser Clydesdales sure bring out the dance moves, apparently. Check out our video below.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 2.28.28 PM7:55 p.m.: Things took a sudden turn for the worse for Jon Garland in the third as he left a sinker up in the zone and his mound opponent, Jeff Samardzija crushed it over the wall in right-center to tie the game 1-1. That’s the second homer this spring for the former Notre Dame football star. Garland actually left pitches up a bit to the first two hitters of the inning — the first out was a long fly to left — before adjusting and getting some ground balls before the inning ended. Jason Bay had put the Mariners ahead in the bottom of the second with an RBI single to left-center that scored Jesus Montero after a double.

The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales (West Coast team), based out of Colorado, make a special appearance in fromt of Peoria Stadium an hour or so before gametime.

The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales (West Coast team), based out of Colorado, make a special appearance in fromt of Peoria Stadium an hour or so before gametime.

7:39 p.m.: This is a different looking Jon Garland tonight. He’s now reitred six in a row and is doing a great job of keeping his pitches down in the zone ever since that double by David DeJesus to start the game. Garland has twice used his curveball now to get a swinging strikeout — foiling Javier Baez in the second inning. Of the six straight outs for Garland, three have come via grounders, one with a popup and the two others via strikeouts.

7:24 p.m.: That was some nice pitching by Jon Garland after a leadoff double by David DeJesus in the first inning. Garland rallied with a strikeout on Luis Valbuena in which he got him to chase a 1-2 changeup down in the dirt. But the real impressive stuff came in the next at-bat, facing Nate Scheirholtz, when, at 2-2, he set the left-handed hitter up by busting him inside with an 89 mph fastball, then came back with a full-count, 77 mph curveball right on the outside corner. Schierholtz swung way early and popped it up to Brendan Ryan for the second out. It wasn’t just the 12 mph differential on the two pitches that mattered, but also the complete change from inside to outside. Nice pitching.

Alfonso Soriano then grounded out.

One thing you’ll note that I didn’t mention earlier: Brendan Ryan is back in the lineup after sitting out the past few days with a stiff neck. I spoke to Ryan earlier and he told me it’s not the same neck problem that he experienced in the second half of 2011 and which caused him some issues in spring training and the first week of the regular season last year.

“I really don’t know how it happened,” said Ryan, who figures he just slept on it funny.

Ryan has an orthopedic pillow he sleeps with both in Seattle and at home in California in order to avoid that previous neck issue.

“It’s really great for pregnant women, supposedly,” Ryan said.

There’s a joke in there someplace, but I’m not sure what it is.

6:46 p.m.: There’s so much to look around and stare at tonight, I don’t know where to start. Whether it’s the Budweiser Clydesdales making a special guest appearance right out in front of the ballpark, drawing a pretty huge crowd at that, or Jon Garland pitching for what might be the final time in his brief Mariners stint, or Jason Bay playing in center field.

This truly is one of those nights in which you can say that now, you’ve really seen it all.

Now, if you didn’t see the minor league game today featuring some Mariners beating up on the Texas Rangers Class A affiliate — and let’s face it, plenty of people did not see it — I can tell you that Oliver Perez struck out six batters over 2 2/3 innings while giving up a run on two hits. He also walked a batter.

Lucas Luetge gave up a hit and struck out a pair over one inning, while Carter Capps retired the side and struck out a pair.

Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: budweiser clydesdales; jon garland; jason bay; chicago cubs


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