The Mariners provided a proper send-off for their twelve players participating in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday, coming away with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.
We got a look at two members of this year’s starting rotation: Yovani Gallardo and James Paxton. Gallardo looked much sharper over three innings than he did in his two-inning debut last week, allowing just one hit and recording three strikeouts. He’ll be headed off to pitch for Mexico in the WBC, but Saturday’s performance gives us good reason to be happy about having Gallardo in the rotation.
Paxton, on the other hand, looked pretty shaky over his two innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Ian Desmond, three hits overall, and walked a batter. He did record two strikeouts as well, but he’ll definitely be looking to improve in his next start. Personally, I feel the Mariners have been more than patient with Paxton over the last few seasons, and it’s time he began performing at his potential or find a different role. Injuries are injuries, but if DiPoto is truly in win-Now mode, expect to see some major moves with Paxton if he doesn’t perform to the expectations of the club. Of course, he’s only pitched two innings in Spring Training, but someone who’s expected to be a contributing member of the rotation needs to prove their worth in every opportunity.
On the offensive side, Mike Zunino launched his first bomb of the Spring, a 421-foot shot to left-center. His power is there, but he’s still a work in progress. He’s drawn a few walks so far this Spring, but he also struck out twice today. The presence of Carlos Ruiz should work to help the maturing Zunino both defensively and at the plate.
Minor leaguer Zach Shank came through with two big hits to drive in runs, and the Mariners were helped out by a wild pitch to score Leonys Martin to lock down the win. This was the final game for many Mariner players headed to represent their countries, and a great send-off for sure.
The Mariners play a double-header tomorrow, heading to Glendale tomorrow to face boy wonder Julio Urias and the Dodgers while Felix Hernandez has his final start of the Spring against the Athletics in Peoria.