Angels vs. Mariners, Jered Weaver vs. Luke French, the pride of the American League West on the line ...
Well, it's a slightly more intriguing game than most spring affairs, especially on the international scene, where a few dozen photographers are recording every facial expression launched by Ichiro or Hideki Matsui.
The Mariners warmed Don Wakamatsu's heart in the first inning. Ichiro singled past shortstop and Chone Figgins grounded a ball just inside the first base line - and those two went into full sprint mode.
Ichiro scored, Figgins was credited with a triple and Casey Kotchman singled him home. Before Weaver had thrown 10 pitches, he was down 2-0.
That's how the Mariners would love to draw up about 50 first innings this season, using speed and the timely hit to pile up a few quick runs. French then made two runs look formidible with a 1-2-3 first inning.
No, it doesn't mean a thing. But Mariners fans can at least now picture how the Seattle offense is supposed to look.
- Second inning, more Seattle fantasies come true. French walks a batter and, with one out, gets a ground ball double play - Jose Lopez to Figgins to Kotchman.
- It remains dream-like in Tempe! Mariners turn yet another Lopez-to-Figgins-to-Kotchman double play in the third inning. Then, in the fourth, Mike Sweeney singles - he's now hit in seven consecutive games - Lopez is safe on an error and Eric Byrnes hits a home run. Mariners 5, Angels 0.
- French picked a good time to have a great game. He worked four innings, got three ground ball DPs and came out leading, 6-2. For a guy looking for a roster sp0t, long relief of spot starter, French went four innings and alllowed two runs. Now pitching: Mark Lowe.
- Sean White pitching in the sixth and has zero luck. Figgins dropped a ground ball (ruled a hit), Lopez booted another (ruled an error) and on a shattered-bat single to left, the Angels got one run and everyone moved up a base when Milton Bradley's throw to third got away from Lopez. Before the inning ended, it was 6-5 Seattle - and White had pitched superbly.
- Ichiro's two-run triple, Bradley's two-run single, the Mariners turn a one-run lead into a 12-5.
- Great moments in spring training. With a three-man umpiring crew, plate ump Dale Scott was hit by a pitch and left in the seventh inning. Ump Alfonzo Marquez disappeared to put on the gear to work behind the plate, but wasn't immediately available. The lone remaining ump - veteran Tim McClelland, then stood behind the mound to call balls and strikes - and any play that occurred on the bases.