Mariners Spring Training Game Eighteen: Mariners 7, White Sox 6

After roster cuts and a humiliating loss over the last few days, the M’s came into today’s matchup with Chicago with hopes to prove their worth, and they didn’t disappoint.

James Paxton went for four innings and showed us exactly what we’ve wanted to see out of the Canadian left-hander; power pitching and strikeouts. Over four, he gave up zero walks, struck out four batters, and his only real blemish was a solo homer given up to Yolmer Sánchez. He’s looked sharp and those hangnails have stayed away so far, Paxton should deliver in 2017.

Tyler Smith had himself a day at the dish, driving in four runs with a double and a long ball. He spent all of last season in Tacoma, where he’ll likely start this season. His production over his last few appearances has been impressive; he’s brought his RBI total to eight on the Spring with a .344 average.

In other news, MIKE ZUNINO WALKED IN A RUN. I can’t say enough how excited I am to see patient Zunino in the regular season. I’ve been able to see him in Spring Training games and AAA games when Tacoma comes to visit Salt Lake, his power is real, and he is more than capable of making a big splash at the plate. He could be this year’s Trevor Story, minus the injury and crappy team. His increase in walks over each season and into Spring Training is beyond impressive. In twenty-one plate appearances this Spring, he’s struck out five times and walked five times. In his last major stint in the majors in 2015, he drew twenty-one walks and struck out 132 times. Obviously, the sample sizes are way different, but the trend he’s on right now is an incredible improvement. I credit his work ethic and Edgar Martinez’s majesty for the changes.

I really really love Edgar Martinez.

In World Baseball Classic Action, the Dominican Republic finally lost a game. Mariner DH Nelson Cruz led off the second inning of their matchup with Puerto Rico with a solo home run, and that was it for the Dominicans in terms of scoring.

Tomorrow, two Mariners square off as Venezuela take on the United States. Felix Hernandez will get the start for Venezuela facing Drew Smyly, a reserve for the US and new acquisition this offseason. He didn’t allow a run in his few innings of work with the M’s in Spring Training, hopefully he can keep it up in the WBC.

The Mariners face the Dodgers tomorrow in Peoria, Chris Heston gets the start.