Mariners Game Recap: Kuma Sparkles as M’s Beat Rangers in Surprise

Feb 27, 2016; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) poses for a photo during media day at Peoria Sports Complex . Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2016; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) poses for a photo during media day at Peoria Sports Complex . Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seattle Mariners got back into the win column on Sunday against the Texas Rangers.

3. 126. 7. 62. Final

The Seattle Mariners (3-2) halted their two game losing skid with a 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon against the Texas Rangers (3-1-1) in Surprise, AZ. Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 0.00 ERA) earned his first win of the spring today for the Mariners, and Nick Tepesch (0-1, 6.75 ERA) was credited with the loss for the visiting Rangers.

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Hisashi Iwakuma was very effective in his spring debut on Sunday afternoon against the Rangers. The veteran right-hander pitched a pair of perfect innings for the Mariners, requiring just 23 pitches to retire the six batters he faced. The M’s nearly lost Kuma to the Dodgers this offseason, but he was resigned after failing his physical with Los Angeles. He is expected to serve as the number two pitcher in Seattle’s 2016 starting rotation.

Joaquin Benoit replaced Kuma in the third inning. The 38-year-old right-hander allowed a one out single, but held the Rangers off the scoreboard in his lone inning of work. New M’s closer, Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless fourth inning. Justin De Fratus pitched well in the fifth inning, but did allow one run to cross the plate. Casey Coleman coughed up a pair of runs in the sixth, but he responded with a scoreless seventh for the Mariners. Paul Fry walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth, but retired the next three in order to preserve the M’s lead. Blake Parker surrendered a run in the ninth, but shut the door in time to secure the win for Seattle.

The Mariners did a fantastic job manufacturing runs early in today’s ballgame. Leonys Martin worked a one out walk in the top of the first inning. Martin wasted little time swiping second, and advanced to third base on a throwing error. Seth Smith did a nice job hitting with two outs, doubling home Martin to give the M’s an early 1-0 lead.

The second inning was even more impressive for Seattle. Luis Sardinas led off the frame with a single, and got himself in scoring position by stealing second base. Chris Taylor lay down a perfect bunt to move Sardinas over to third, and Shawn O’Malley plated Sardinas on a single. O’Malley then proceeded to steal second, and he scored shortly after on a Nori Aoki single to extend the Mariners lead to 3-0.

Seattle received significant contributions from the bottom three hitters in their starting lineup today. Sardinas, Taylor and O’Malley combined to go 5 for 8 this afternoon, with a double, 2 RBI, 4 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. Ironically, all three of these players are competing to be the M’s utility infielder in 2016. Sardinas, Taylor and O’Malley are all playing well right now, and it will be interesting to which of these players separates himself in the next couple weeks.

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Dae-ho Lee picked up his first hit in Northwest Green during Saturday’s contest with the Los Angeles Angels, and he earned his first start of the spring this afternoon in Surprise, AZ. Lee served as the M’s designated hitter on Sunday, and finished 0-2 with a walk. The 33-year-old rookie is competing for a chance to platoon with Adam Lind at first base this season.

Seth Smith has gotten off to a phenomenal start in Cactus League play. The 33-year-old right fielder has collected 6 hits in his first 7 at bats this spring, good for an .857 batting average. Smith was reasonably productive during his first season with Seattle in 2015, and the M’s will be hoping for more of the same this year.

Next: Mariners Top 20 Prospects: #1 RF Alex Jackson

The Seattle Mariners (3-2) will return to Peoria on Monday to host the Arizona Diamondbacks (3-2). First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 pm PT from the Peoria Sports Complex. James Paxton (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the spring for Seattle, and Rubby De La Rosa (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will get the ball for the D-Backs. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s game will not be televised. However, fans in the Pacific Northwest can set their radio dials to 710 ESPN and listen to Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith.