Learning lessons from the Seattle Mariners loss to Cleveland Indians

PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 02: Starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 02: Starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Erik Swanson of the Mariners throws.
PEORIA, ARIZONA – MARCH 02: Relief pitcher Erik Swanson of the Seattle Mariners pitches. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners tried to make it 2-0 to start Spring Training yesterday, but weren’t able to make it happen. The Mariners squared off against the Cleveland Indians at noon and put out:

  • J.P. Crawford SS
  • Mitch Haniger RF
  • Kyle Seager 3B
  • Tom Murphy C
  • Evan White 1B
  • Jarred Kelenic LF
  • Sam Haggerty 2B
  • Jake Fraley DH
  • Braden Bishop CF
  • Yusei Kikuchi P

The game was only eight innings but as per usual, a handful of players got ample playing time. Here is what we learned from the 6-1 defeat.

Yusei Kikuchi had a solid 2021 debut

Kikuchi started off the game by striking out Billy Hamilton. He then was able to get  Oscar Mercado out on a soft grounder to himself. Things are going great right!

Well, Yusei walked Jake Bauers and what do you know? Josh Naylor hits a line-drive which scored Bauers. Naylor tried to push it to third but was thrown out to end the inning.

After the Mariners failed to score in the first after getting two runners on base, Kikuchi had a smoother inning and went 1-2-3.

He started off by getting former Mariners outfielder, Ben Gamel out on a line drive and struck out Mike Freeman and Austin Hedges after.

I don’t know about you, but I am impressed with Yusei Kikuchi’s first outing of the year. Everything went smoothly except for the walk with two outs. I am fine with the Naylor double because that’s going to happen. But a two-out walk is unacceptable.

The 29-year-old was also able to complete two innings in 29 pitches and his fastball hit 96mph while sitting around 95mph for most of the day. After the game, though his interpreter, Yusei said,

"I’m just really glad that my hard work that I put in the offseason showed up today…. Things are a lot easier for me this year, a lot more smooth. It is my third year, so everything’s a lot more smooth compared to my first two years."

This is a good start to 2021 for Kikuchi, and we hope the improvements continue.

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Joey Gerber and Domingo Tapia get the job done

Joey Gerber was an exciting surprise for Mariners fans last season out of the pen. I believe the 23-year-old will have a big role this year and he’s off to a good start in 2021. Gerber followed Kikuchi and gave up a single to Andres Gimenez, but was smooth sailing after that.

He struck out Yu Chang looking, got Billy Hamilton to hit into a double play, and forced Oscar Mercado to fly out. It was an efficient outing for the Twitter comedian, and we hope to see more of that this month and during the season.

The Mariners claimed Domingo Tapia off waivers from the Red Sox last year and could play a role in the Seattle bullpen this year. The 29-year-old flame thrower threw a 1-2-3 inning getting Bauers, Naylor, and Gamel to all ground out.

Erik Swanson, Jaime Schultz, and Gerson Bautista struggle

Swanson, Schultz, and Bautista didn’t have very good relief appearances. If you are trying to impress the coaching staff and earn a spot on the roster, don’t do what they did.

Am I being a little harsh? Probably… but the Mariners bullpen is crowded and you really need to put your game together if you want a chance in the new wave of Seattle talent.

Erik Swanson came in to pitch the top of the fifth inning and he faced five batters. He gave up a single to Mike Freeman to start the inning, followed by a fly-out, and then a home run to Andres Gimenez to make it a 3-0 ball game.

Swanson then went on to strike out Yu Chang and forced Billy Hamilton to pop out to Jantzen Witte at third.

Jaime Schultz replaced Swanson the next inning and gave up two runs as well. He began with a hit, a walk, a double, and another walk, before recording a single out.

Finally, Bautista pitched the top of the seventh inning and gave up one run, but he walked a batter and allowed two hits.

To say the least, these three young pitchers didn’t do their job, especially against the Indians “B” team.

The Mariners offensive was cold yesterday, with a few exceptions

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In the Spring Training opener against the Padres, the Mariners got nine hits and drew seven walks. In yesterday’s loss to Cleveland, the Mariners got seven hits and only drew one walk.

It’s not like Seattle put their “B” team out there either. At least half of the starting lineup were starting players. J.P. Crawford, Mitch Haniger, Sam Haggerty, and Braden Bishop were the only starting players to go 1 for 2 yesterday.

Although, J.P and Haggerty each stole a base and Haniger hit a double.

Amongst the “second lineup,” Julio Rodriguez, Jordan Cowan, and Taylor Trammell were the only ones to record a hit. To no one’s surprise, J-Rod hit an absolute laser during his one at-bat.

Last game, J-Rod’s walk-off hit’s exit velocity was 102mph. Yesterday, it was 11mph faster. I almost wonder if Trackman made a mistake.

Taylor Trammell also got his first hit of Spring Training! He struggled a bit during the Instructional League so it will be interesting to see how Trammell hits this month.

Trammell hit a ball out into the gap and almost made it to third base. For most players that is a stand-up double.

The Mariners made no defensive errors

Lastly, the Mariners made three errors last game against the Padres. Yesterday, the Seattle defense bounced back and did not give up a single error. In the opener, Dylan Moore made a throwing error. The usually sure-handed Kyle Seager made a fielding error. And Tom Murphy was called for catcher’s interference.

I am sure Coach Perry Hill is happy that the infield cleaned things up yesterday.

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