Thursday’s Game 7 recap: Mariners 4, Giants 3
Player of the Game: Justin Smoak (pictured above) continued his hot early spring with a 2-for-3 day that included an opposite-field RBI double in the third off the Giants’ Matt Cain. The Mariners wanted to see Smoak carry over his strong finish last season and he’s certainly done that, now batting .583 (7-for-12) with two home runs and five RBIs in four games. Smoak hit .378 last spring, but had no home runs and five RBIs in 15 games.
Stat of the Game: With two more home runs – by Nick Franklin and Franklin Gutierrez – the Mariners upped their total to 14 long balls in seven games. That’s more home runs than any of the 30 MLB teams in either the Cactus or Grapefruit leagues so far. The Mariners have now out-homered their opponents 14-5.
Storyline: The Mariners equaled their longest Cactus League win streak since 2004 with their sixth straight victory and this one came against a Giants team that played most of its regulars from last year’s World Series champion squad and started three-time All-Star Matt Cain for the first three innings
Worth noting: Smoak and Gutierrez, two returning players who could make a big difference this year if they stay healthy and contribute, continued their excellent early play. Smoak is hitting well, as noted, but Gutierrez continues to look strong in center field as well and homered in his second game in a row, this one a nice opposite-field shot. For all the talk about the new veteran additions, Smoak and Gutierrez could be as critical as anyone to the team’s improvement if they play well this year.
Quote of the Game: ““It just felt really good. To a certain extent, it felt normal. It felt like that’s where I belong and that’s where I should be. I’m very happy with it.” — Veteran starter Jon Garland after throwing a scoreless first inning in his first action since undergoing shoulder surgery midway through the 2011 season.
Next: Young southpaw James Paxton makes his first Cactus League start Friday when the Mariners host the Rangers in Peoria at 1:05 p.m. MT (12:05 p.m. PT). Paxton will throw two innings, followed by two more from another of the top prospects, right-hander Brandon Maurer. Randy Wells will start for Texas.
Here’s the link to today’s box score.
Here’s my feature story today on pitcher Anthony Vasquez, who has recovered from brain surgery and now is eager to start throwing in Minor League camp next week.
And here’s today’s notebook with all the news from camp, including the first live batting practice session by Felix Hernandez.