Cubs 6, Mariners 2 at the Peoria Sports Complex
Justin Dunn threw a three-inning gem.
Before it all fell apart in the fourth.
The 25-year-old Dunn — who is battling Nick Margevicius for the sixth spot in the Mariners’ starting rotation — allowed zero runs with two hits, one walk and a whopping six strikeouts in his first three innings on Wednesday night, overmatching Cubs hitters with the combination of a plus-fastball and a crisp curveball. The six strikeouts, in fact, matched his career high in the regular season.
But his final spring start unceremoniously unraveled. To kick off the fourth inning, Cubs outfielder Cameron Maybin walloped a hanging 2-2 curveball for a solo homer to tie the score at 1-1. Nico Hoerner followed with an immediate triple into the right field corner, on a ball that sneaked past Mitch Haniger’s outstretched glove. After two consecutive walks, a stolen base and a strikeout of the opposing pitcher, Dunn was (momentarily) yanked from the game.
Veteran reliever Paul Sewald didn’t fare much better. After inheriting the bases loaded, Sewald surrendered a two-RBI single to Cubs second baseman Eric Sogard to stretch the deficit to 3-1. Following a fielding error by shortstop J.P. Crawford, another run scored.
One particular spring training rule didn’t help in salvaging Dunn’s start. After Sewald finished up the fourth inning, Dunn returned to the mound in the fifth — only to give up a towering solo homer to leadoff hitter Jake Marisnick. After Maybin reached on a Kyle Seager error — his second of the game — Dunn was pulled yet again without securing a single out.
His final line was 3.1 innings pitched, seven strikeouts, five hits, four earned runs and three walks — in a promising start marred by an unfortunate finale.
Still, there’s hope that the Boston College alum will be able to sustain early success in the future.
“I’m really excited and proud of what (Dunn) did this offseason, coming into camp ready to rock and roll,” Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth said on the ROOT Sports broadcast prior to the underwelming fourth inning. “In every bullpen, in every start so far, he’s taken that intensity and that newfound stuff into the game. So for him, it’s just figuring out how to use his new toys.”
With an improved fastball, Woodworth said Dunn has “transformed himself into a power pitcher.”
The same can’t be said of soft-tossing Cubs starter Zach Davies — who surrendered just three hits and one earned run, with eight strikeouts, in 4.1 strong innings.
Davies’ only blemish came via Mariners outfielder Taylor Trammell, who pulled his hands inside and yanked a fastball over the right field fence for a solo homer in the second inning. Catcher prospect Cal Raleigh shot an RBI double into the gap in right-center in the eighth inning as well.
Player of the game
This has to go to Trammell, who went 1 for 2 with a solo homer and a walk as he continues to compete with Jarred Kelenic for the starting job in left field. The 23-year-old Trammell has hit .289 and clubbed a pair of homers this spring. Reliever Anthony Misiewicz pitched two hitless innings as well.
“I felt like I competed pretty well. When I get my stuff on the plate, I’ve had success. So I’m going to continue to grow. I’m still young. I’ve got a lot to learn. But I’m happy with where I’m at and I definitely think it’s only going to get better as we get going.” — Dunn, evaluating his spring.
The Mariners travel to Hohokam Stadium on Thursday to meet the Oakland Athletics at 1:05 p.m. Nick Margevicius, Casey Sadler, Will Vest, Joey Gerber, Drew Steckenrider and Yohan Ramirez are scheduled to pitch for Seattle, with Frankie Montas making the start for Oakland. The game will not be televised but will be broadcast live on ESPN 710-AM.