But more importantly: Bryce Miller
Today being the 11th game of the spring, I had hoped the Mariners would honor Edgar Martínez and honor him with some timely strikes. Unfortunately, only Cal Raleigh and Cade Marlowe seemed interested in gracing No. 11 with hits, but Mariners pitching prospect Bryce Miller made sure any Mariners fan who tuned in to this game had any way something comfortable in his heart, even if it wasn’t quite on the level of a franchise-altering double.
Luis Castillo mostly cast his lead today, working in the 90s by the gun in Peoria, with his slider hanging between 82 and 84 mph. The Cubs hit him for two runs in his first inning, with Nico Hoerner leading the game with a hard hit single to the left. Eric Hosmer then slipped a ball past Ty France for a double. Christopher Morel would later bring Hosmer home on another solid left single, giving the Cubs a 2-0 advantage. All three hits for the Cubs in the first inning came off the lead/fastball. Castillo hit to the side, running Trey Mancini and Mike Tauchman after the slider and Patrick Wisdom weakly waving after a fastball, and despite the runs scored, the Cubs hitters made plenty of weak contact, appearing to struggle to make facing Castillo.
Castillo had a quieter second inning, forcing Tucker Barnhart to hit a tapper at the end of the bat (well lined up by third baseman Sam Haggerty), hitting Brennan Davis watching at 94 mph, his hardest pitched ball of the day at that point, before accidentally hitting Pete Crow-Armstrong with 92 mph in the, as Dave Sims would say, goal-tock. The PCA would then continue to sweep second base, but Castillo called on Hoerner to tap out safely to end the inning.
Castillo would go on to pull one more in the third, also leaving a legacy runner for young Juan Then to contend with. Then was able to take Wisdom out on a swing, then got a grounder on the third which Haggerty bobbled. Nicely, however, Then prompted the exact same batted ball from Mike Tauchman, and this time Haggerty managed to make the play to end the inning. We love it when things work out!
The Cubs hitters then had to face Bryce Miller for three innings, which looked like a real bad time for them. In his first run, Miller hit 98 on the gun in Peoria and caused some nasty half-swings on his slider, which has a very similar motion profile to his fastball, both with heavy sink. He gave up a few hits, one on a ground fly that wouldn’t have been a hit in the days of shifts, and in his second inning of work, Trey Mancini ambushed a fastball from the first pitch to make it a left single. field. Miller recovered each time, however; the first time he hit Brennan Davis looking for a wicked fastball that sinks to 98 before getting a pair of easy flyouts, and the second time he handled a strong bat return from Hosmer – on a pitch that came in at 96 – for an easy double play before pulling out Patrick Wisdom at 97 mph. Miller was praised for his calm demeanor and composure on the mound, and it showed clearly today.
Miller decided he liked to retire the Cubs’ batters so much that he did so twice more in his third inning of work, getting Morel and Tauchman at 97 and 96, respectively; Tucker Barnhart wisely decided to swing on the first pitch instead of waiting for Miller to retire it and fly out to end the inning.
Here’s a thread of all of Miller’s strikeouts that day. I would recommend watching them, as they were probably the most interesting thing about this game from the perspective of Mariners fans:
The Cubs, however, are equipped with tough pitchers. Like Castillo, Hayden Wesneski is primarily a fastball-slider-sinker pitcher; today he was throwing much harder than Castillo, dialing him up until the mid-90s, but Ty France hit a 92 mph fastball and pushed it into left field for a double. Wesneski was able to get his elite hard slider out, however, confusing the Mariners hitters and causing some nasty half swings. Cal Raleigh was confused by the 90 mph slider, but then came back and hit one into left field – a late-inning flyout but a good fit, nonetheless.
Raleigh’s adaptation continued in third. Ty France worked extra hard to get to third base, scalding a comebacker from Wesneski, who then threw down at first; alerted, France climbed to second place, looking more like a game at the end of September than at the beginning of March. Tucker Barnhart then threw into center field on an attempt to take down new speed threat Ty France, and France raced to third. Cal Raleigh then said “no need to risk all that risk, Ty”, and smoked a double into the gap, bringing the Mariners onto the board and earning himself a huge ovation from the crowd in Peoria, who cheered every time Cal Raleigh appears on the field for whatever reason. This is what the fight against drought will do.
That and a Cade Marlowe home run was the only offense the Mariners would be able to come up with that day. Marlowe’s home run came after a few misfires on the field battling the Arizona sun. Visibly annoyed with himself, Marlowe took out his anger on Tyler Duffey, who made the mistake of throwing Marlowe a checked ball anywhere near the plate.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Mariners could get today, with Justin Topa giving up a run thanks to the aforementioned Marlowe mistakes and Tayler Saucedo, who was fighting his command today, giving up a few more runs on top of that. . Despite the hard contact, Topa’s stuff looked pretty mean, with his fastball trailing around 96 and a slider that looked like it could put anywhere in the area.
As a reminder, tomorrow is a holiday for the Mariners; they’ll be back in action Wednesday in an evening game with the Dodgers, which will air on MLB TV if you have it.