Shank had two hits and drove in two runs, including a RBI single in the top of the ninth to put the Mariners.
Mariners 4 , Rockies 3 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
After struggling to find his rhythm and command in his first start of the spring, right-hander Yovani Gallardo bounced back with a strong outing on Saturday. Gallardo pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out three with no walks. He threw 39 pitches with 28 strikes.
“That first time out I was a little bit too quick and trying to overdo everything,” Gallardo said. “I was trying to be too perfect, trying to be too fine. The bullpen session I had prior to this start, I really focused on throwing the ball over the plate and having a good line, a good direction towards the plate and it showed. Everything was under control I was able to command the ball to both sides of the plate. It’s funny how something so simple — just stay on line a little bit longer — and everything comes out a lot sharper.”
James Paxton made his Cactus League debut for the spring. He worked two innings, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Paxton left a slider up in the zone that resulted in a two-run homer for Ian Desmond.
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“I was going for the back foot cutter and missed up and in,” Paxton said. “I didn’t think it was going out, but it did. It was just a pitch I didn’t make.”
But his fastball registered in the upper 90s, which is something the Mariners wanted to see.
“It felt good to get back on the mound again and face hitters, it had been a while,” Paxton said. “I felt a little off, my timing wasn’t good.”
Mike Zunino hit his first homer of the season, sending a laser of a line drive over the wall in left center for a solo homer off of Rockies starter Jon Gray. MLB statcast measured the exit velocity at 119 mph, which is harder than any homer he hit last season.
Leonys Martin manufactured a run for the Mariners in the third inning. After doubling off the wall in center, Martin scored from second on a wild pitch by Yency Almonte.
“I read it the whole way,” Martin said. “I just kept going.”
Player of the game
If you were a punning man, you might call him The Zach Shank Redemption or maybe “The Shanknado.” Others with the Rainiers have called him, “The Shank Master.” Regardless of nicknames, minor league infielder Zach Shank is making the most of his time with the Mariners in Cactus League games. As a minor league call up for certain games, Shank has performed and delivered big hits. On Saturday, Shank drove in a pair of runs, including the game-winning RBI in the top of the ninth inning. Earlier in the game, Shank added a RBI double. In five at-bats, Shank has three hits and four RBI.
“Great, great at-bats,” Servais said. “Really our staff in Tacoma said all last year, ‘whenever we need a hit, this guy gets it. ‘ Scott Brosius called it the other day when he got a big hit. He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s the Shank Master, he’s got us.’ Good for him. He’s swinging the bat well. He feels comfortable and he should be he’s got a lot of confidence.”
“I was really happy with the way Gallardo threw the ball. He got in good rhythm today, locating with the fastball, outstanding. He got some balls even up in the zone when he wanted to. I thought it was really good to see. I thought Pax was really good today. He made one mistake — that slider he paid for. But overall, it was nice to see those two guys out there, looking comfortable and get all their pitches working.” — Servais
The Mariners will be a split squad on Sunday with games in Peoria and Glendale. Over at Camelback Ranch, right-hander Andrew Moore will make his first start of the Cactus League against the Dodgers, who will start talented lefty Julio Urias. Also slated to pitch for Seattle against Los Angeles are Edwin Diaz, Pat Venditte, Dean Kiekhefer, Jonathan Aro, Dylan Unsworth and Micah Owings.
Meanwhile at the home stadium, Felix Hernandez will make his final start before leaving for the World Baseball Classic against the Oakland A’s. Lefty Jharel Cotton will get the start for Oakland. Also scheduled to pitch for Seattle are Evan Scribner, Thyago Vieira, James Pazos, Chase De Jong and Casey Fien. That game will be televised on Root Sports and MLB.TV while also being broadcast on ESPN 710 and mariners.com