The much-vaunted “bullpen game” ended up not being too much different from most recent Mariners games. Good pitching gave the M’s a chance to win, and the outcome depended on whether the offense could put runs on the board. This was another one of the times when the runs didn’t materialize.
But things were fairly encouraging for Tom Wilhelmsen, who left his first MLB starting experience saying he’d “like to do it again.” Since he’s not really needed in the pen, it would not be a surprise to see that happen.
The Barkeep began the first version of his career (in 2003) as a starter, and also launched his re-birth (after several years, as you know, as a bartender) in the rotation. But in 2011 the team fell in love with his arm as a bullpen solution, and bumped him all the way up into the major-league pen. A brief experiment in converting him back to the rotation in AA ensued, but he didn’t immediately excel, and got pulled back into an MLB relief role. He spent most of the next two years, of course, as the closer.
But TW’s “inner starter” seems to keep calling, and there can be no question that — despite his “closer stuff” — he seems to be more mentally suited to a longer role.
The Barkeep threw 54 pitches in his inaugural starting effort, and he certainly brought the heat (averaging 97 mph on the hard stuff), and he induced 7 whiffs for a strong 13% swing-and-miss rate.
After two easy innings, he was victimized by a walk, a single and a throwing error by Mike Zunino in the 3rd, leading to two runs (only one earned). After a second walk, he was lifted.
Given recent struggles of Roenis Elias, and that Chris Young, could, at any time, lose altitude on his magic carpet ride, and that no one knows what the timetable will be for James Paxton, and that future star Taijuan Walker is not the model of consistency at 21, well … more starts from the Bartender seem pretty likely.
Getting 12 hits and two runs (Thursday) counts as an improvement over getting 12 hits and one run (Wednesday), doesn’t it?
And both are better than getting eight hits and zero runs (Tuesday).
So things on offense are getting better. On a linear and monotonic basis, no less!
Still using Endy Chavez as a corner outfielder, which pretty much sums things up.
- Baseball-reference.com boxscore here.
- Mariners affiliates scoreboard here.
- Tacoma found the button to activate the hyper-drive in Salt Lake. Ty Kelly led the way with two homers, a single and a walk, as the Rainiers laid waste to the Bees, 18-2. Jesus Montero joined in with two doubles and three singles.
- Plus AAA newcomer (and UVa guy!) John Hicks got on board in his first Rainier game: home run, single, walk.
- It was so bad that veteran utility guy Leury Bonilla was sent out to pitch. No storybook ending. He walked four guys in a row, and got yanked. So in came veteran backup catcher Humberto Quintero, who got the final three outs.
- Well, nothing else as exciting happened elsewhere. Jackson fell behind early and went quietly, despite a homer from Dan Paolini.
- High Desert got another strong relief outing from Grady Wood. Keep an eye on him.
- Clinton did little, but the Stanford crew could enjoy three hits from Lonnie Kauppila.
- Everett got pasted, 10-1, but Pulaski pulled out a win thanks to a double from light-hitting backup catcher Georvic Perez.
- Finally, the Glamour Boys in Arizona: Alex Jackson, 1-for-5; Gareth Morgan, 1-for-3, triple, walk. Raw high school draftee Jay Muhammad gave up 4 ER in 4.0 IP (also 4 H and 4 BB, but only 2 K).