The Mariners continued their early spring training auditions tonight as Justin Smoak along with pitcher David Pauley kept themselves in good shape for starting jobs in 2011 with their performances in the 7-5 win over the Rangers tonight. Pauley got his second win in a row going six innings down in Arlington only allowing a pair of runs against a tough Texas lineup bound for the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Smoak showed the kind of stick we have been hoping for tonight, going 3-4 including a huge three-run homer in the fifth off starter CJ Wilson who suffered the loss tonight for the Rangers. Of all the AAA guys playing out the rest of the year, the one we need to step-up the most is Justin Smoak, and he did tonight, with flying colors. Anthony Varvaro on the other hand gave-up a 3-run homer to Nelson Cruz tonight in the 7th and unlike Dan Cortes may not be a lock to make the club next year.
The slugger Greg Hallman got his first big league hit tonight driving-in Adam Moore with a double down the line to put the Mariners up 2-0 in the second. Hallman had a great year in Tacoma connecting for 33 home runs and though he has a tendency to strike-out, Hallman deserves a shot to compete for the left field job next year. Michael Saunders has been given plenty of time to prove himself this year and he just hasn’t convinced anyone he is the guy. I like Saunders in the field but he has been struggling for the last couple at the plate after a decent start. Traditionally left field is a position where you can hide a mediocre defensive guy if he can produce at the plate, but in Saunders case it is the other way around which is no help for a club like ours that is desperate for offense.
Matt Mangini went hitless tonight but played a decent third and should be fighting for a shot there next spring unless somehow Jose Lopez comes back. Lots of questions in the offseason for this club as we continue the rebuilding process. Chuck Armstrong told Fox Network tonight that Jack Zduriencik will be coming back next year. This comes as no surprise as this organization needs to stick with Jack Z. and see if next year he can make a few moves that actually pan-out.
Nice to hear the Phillies clinched tonight with a 8-0 win over the Nationals. This is the fourth year in a row that the Phillies have won the NL East and they look like the favorites from the NL to get to the Series. As far as drama goes for the Mariners we have Felix Hernandez on the mound tomorrow needing another good outing in his quest for the Cy-Young award. Also with 96 losses on the year and six games to go, we need to split the rest of the way to avoid the stigma of another 100 loss season. In addition the Mariners are going to need to put-up runs like they did tonight to avoid being the lowest scoring team in the AL since the DH was instituted in 73. So there are still some interesting tidbits to keep an eye on before this season is put to bed.http://jeffsmariners.com