The Mariners held on to beat the Reds 7-6 in a Cactus League game on Sunday.
Mariners 7, Reds 6 at Goodyear Ballpark
The starting pitching of Drew Smyly in his last extended start of spring training Sunday was a day he’d just as soon forget.
The five innings of bullpen work for the Mariners against the Reds, though, was the kind of day they wouldn’t mind seeing repeat itself again and again and again during the 2017 regular season.
After Smyly allowed five runs on six hits in four innings — including three solo homers — six relievers combined to allow just three hits and a run in the final five innings to allow the Mariners to rally for a 7-6 win.
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“Good day for our bullpen,’’ said manager Scott Servais.
The bullpen goodness included the first appearance this spring for Tony Zych, who is attempting to make it back from off-season shoulder surgery, and the first appearance since returning from the World Baseball Classic for closer Edwin Diaz.
Zych was a little shaky, allowing a single on a ball hit back to the mound on the first batter he faced that caromed off his ankle, and also allowing a walk. But while he allowed an inherited runner to score, he ultimately escaped without allowing an earned run. Diaz, meanwhile, was his typical electric self, allowing a hit but also striking out two in a scoreless eighth to hold the lead after Seattle had rallied to take a 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth.
Zych said his first few pitches “got away from me a little bit. I could tell I was a little excited.’’
But the good news was that he reported he made it through the inning with his arm feeling just fine.
It’s unlikely he’ll be ready for the start of the season but he may be able to return not too deep into April if he’s needed.
“A little rusty I think,’’ Servais said. “That’s going to happen. His stuff looked fine. Just got to tighten it up a little bit.’’
As for Diaz, Servais said “Eddie looks good. Locating the ball pretty well and his slider was good today, as well. Wanted to definitely make sure he pitched, obviously, got the two runs so just put him in there in the eighth inning.’’
Nick Vincent, who has had a rough spring, also pitched a scoreless inning while James Pazos gave up a solo homer in the ninth but held on to secure the victory.
Taylor Motter, who has secured a spot on the Opening Day roster as a utility player and on Sunday was playing shortstop, went 2-4 with a two-run homer and a double to spark the offense and raise his average to .296.
His home run came in the second after the Reds had scored on a solo homer in the first against Smyly. Smyly then gave up two more in the second.
It was Smyly’s second start since returning from playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic — the other coming in a ‘B’ game against the Padres on Tuesday.
Smyly, though, said what he called “obviously a little different than most spring trainings’’ wasn’t a factor in Sunday’s issues.
“I didn’t have good fastball command, was battling it the whole game,’’ said Smyly, acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in January. “I could never really throw my curveball. Just couldn’t get the feel for my curveball — I’d leave one up and spike the next one. Just one of those days.’’
Said Servais: “He could just never find his release point.’’
Player of the game
Motter, who continues to solidify his hold on a spot on the Opening Day roster as a utility player, had two-run homer to kick of the Mariners’ scoring in the second inning and then had a double to key a two-run eighth that put the Mariners ahead 7-5.
“I just couldn’t throw two pitches in the same spot all day. It was frustrating but you have to battle through it. And honestly games like that are probably good in spring training. Helps you maybe bear down and compete in those long innings where you are feeling tired and you need to make a pitch. I had to do that today,” — Smyly after allowing five earned runs and six hits in four innings.
The Mariners will face the Padres in a 1:10 p.m. start in Peoria. Yovani Gallardo will get the start in a game that will be televised live on the MLB Network. A live radio broadcast will be available on ESPN 710 and mariners.com.