Today, the King begun his 2018 quest in reclaiming his crown. It did not go well.
Things were going pretty well to start the game. Felix Hernandez had pitched a beautiful first inning in which he struck out Cubs stars Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. In the second, Washington native Matt Hague blasted a solo home run off Brian Duensing. Three batters later, Dee Gordon — yes, Dee Gordon — hit a three-run homer.
Then Felix came back out, and we once again said hello to darkness — a very familiar friend. Cubs catcher Victor Caratini lined a fastball right back to the mound, popping Felix in the upper right forearm. Felix immediately dropped his glove and grabbed for the arm, appearing to be in excruciating pain. He left the game.
When Felix got to the dugout, he was basically all of us:
Life is pain, everyone. At least if you’re a Mariners fan.
Alas, there was still a game to be played today. Former Mariners side-armer Steve Cishek made his first appearance as a member of the Cubs in the third inning. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Cishek help the Cubs, however. But who cares? Felix is hurt and that’s the only thing on every Mariners fan’s mind right now.
Games like this are tough to write about, especially as a fan. It also doesn’t help that the game wasn’t televised, making it even harder to get information in such an anxious time. Thankfully, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times uploaded a video of the injury.
Before diving further into the game recap, there’s something that should be addressed. Every fan is currently thinking, “The Mariners have to add a starting pitcher now.” Well, they should, but they probably won’t.
As I had mentioned in my first article for Sodo Mojo, most starting pitching options currently on the market are not much better than what the Mariners have at the moment. The only pitcher who is a clear-cut upgrade potentially worth spending on is Jake Arrieta, but considering the money he’s asking for coming off an average 2017 season, that may even be a risk. I can only see Jerry Dipoto pulling the trigger on Arrieta if Felix’s injury was serious enough to take him out for the entire 2018 season. Even if Felix is instead out, say, two months, then I would prepare for Dipoto to rock with what he has. However, it appears neither scenario will become reality now that Felix’s x-rays have returned negative and he’s been diagnosed with a bruised forearm, so let’s stop getting ahead of ourselves.
In terms of the game, it was your typical boring Spring Training affair… for six innings. Then, the madness ensued.
Mariners second-round Rule 5 draft pick Joe Odom singled Danny Muno home in the top of the seventh. Later in the inning, third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean brought out the rye bread and mustard for a grand slam.
The M’s were cruising to a blowout victory.
Then, Mariners pitcher Jack Anderson had a disastrous performance, allowing the Cubs back into the game. With the M’s leading 9-2, Anderson gave up five runs on four hits and two hit batters. He left the game with the bases loaded and no one out. Dan Altavilla took over and seemingly saved the day, but in the bottom of the ninth, former Mariner utility man Mike Freeman tied the game with a two-run homer off of Seth Elledge. After the third out was recorded, the game ended in a 9-9 tie.
Tomorrow, the Mariners have a split-squad day. In game one, Andrew Moore makes his second appearance of the Spring against the Kansas City Royals. Back in Peoria, “The Big Maple” James Paxton takes the mound for the first time versus the San Diego Padres. Paxton’s start will be televised for those with an MLB.TV subscription. A live audio broadcast for the Royals matchup will be available via MLB.com. Both games start at 12:10 PM PT. Some good news: one Mr. Mitch Haniger may make his debut in one of those games.