THE FACTS: Let’s just say the Mariners did their part Saturday to force the Chicago Cubs to re-think those plans to send super prospect Kris Bryant to the minors.
Bryant hit a pair of no-doubt homers — a two-run blast against Felix Hernandez and a three-run laser against Kevin Correia. Neither were good pitches, but Bryant sure didn’t miss them.
The Cubs also got homers from Addison Russell and Wellington Castillo in their slugfest victory. For all that, the Mariners made it interesting by scoring twice in the sixth and three time in the eighth.
Hernandez shrugged off his dreadful line: six runs in 2 2/3 innings before he went to the bullpen to finish his scheduled 80-pitch workload.
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“It’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s definitely not the result that I want, but I just got my work in. I threw a lot of pitches. That’s what I’m here for.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Brad Miller’s throw pulled first baseman Logan Morrison away from the base on a potential inning-ending double play in the third inning.
That play proved costly. Anthony Rizzo followed with an RBI double before Addison Russell launched a two-run homer that finished Hernandez.
It didn’t atone in scope, but Miller ended the Cubs’ five-run fourth by making a nice diving stop in hole on Castillo’s grounder and turning it into an out.
PLUS: Austin Wilson legged out a three-run homer when his sinking liner to center eluded a diving Junior Lake…Nelson Cruz capped a three-run third inning with a homer after getting hit by a pitch on the top of his left foot in his first at-bat…Miller had two doubles and a sacrifice fly…Fernando Rodney struck out the side in working around a single and a walk in his only inning.
MINUS: Correia isn’t really battling for a big-league job, but he looked like a veteran who needs a lot of work after yielding five runs in two-thirds of an inning…Carlos Rivero, a late replacement for third baseman Kyle Seager, ended the first inning by grounding into a double play with the bases loaded. Rivero finished hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts.
JOB BATTLES: Lefty Tyler Olson finally faced some adversity and, generally, worked around it. Two singles and an error put runners at first and third with one out in the seventh, but he escaped with no runs.
Olson’s scoreless streak ended in the eighth when an error by shortstop Tyler Smith permitted an unearned run to score. He has allowed only that single unearned run in nine innings over six appearances.
“He did a nice job,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He never panicked. He continues to impress. He made quality pitches.”
QUOTABLE I: “Big power, hun?” Hernandez said when asked about Bryant. “Nice. He looked good at the plate. You can’t throw him bad pitches.”
QUOTABLE II: “Those are the type of home runs you live for,” Bryant said of his homer against Hernandez. “The guy is a Cy Young Award winner and their ace.”
EXTRA INNINGS: Seager was scratched because of what McClendon termed “a little tightness” in his right side.
“He was fine,” McClendon said. “He passed all of the tests. It’s just too late in the spring to even think about taking a chance.”
UP NEXT: Lefty James Paxton makes his Cactus League debut when the Mariners meet the Texas Rangers for the second time in three days at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Peoria Stadium.
Texas plans to start right-hander Yovani Gallardo.