If this Cactus League opener was the dawn of a new era for the Mariners, it couldn’t have gone much better than Wednesday’s 7-0 romp over the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium.
With a roster retooled in the offseason by new general manager Jerry Dipoto, and sporting a new manager in Scott Servais, the only drawback for the Mariners on this sunny afternoon was, well, it doesn’t count for much.
Even so, there was much to like.
Lefty James Paxton began his quest to retain a spot in the rotation by working two scoreless innings. Six pitchers followed in closing out a four-hit shutout.
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“It felt good to be back on the mound,” Paxton said, “and facing guys who aren’t our own guys. It was fun. First time out, and I felt I was pounding the strike zone pretty well.
“I tried to do too much on a few pitches. But I felt it was a really good starting point for spring training.”
The overhauled Seattle lineup delivered 12 hits, including home runs by Chris Iannetta, Franklin Gutierrez and Stefen Romero.
“Our pitching, obviously, threw strikes,” Servais said. “We were ahead in the count for the most part. The thing that stood out for me, as much as anything, is our at-bats were very competitive.”
Iannetta opened the scoring with a two-run homer on a 2-2 slider from Luis Perdomo in the second inning.
Gutierrez extended the lead to 3-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth inning against Cory Mazzoni. The ball struck high off the blue batters’s eye in center field.
Iannetta’s sacrifice fly added another run in the fourth.
The Mariners stretched their lead with two more runs in the fifth inning after the first waves of substitutes entered the game. Dan Robertson had an RBI triple and scored on Chris Taylor’s double.
Romero’s leadoff homer in the sixth made it 7-0.
Paxton started the game by striking out Melvin Upton and worked a one-two-three first inning on 15 pitches. Paxton needed 19 pitches in working around a two-walk in the second inning.
“Very good,” Servais said. “Under control. Commanded his pitches. Worked the changeup in there. Off to a good start. Really happy for him. He’s worked his tail off.”
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Game in review
Play of the game: The Mariners escaped a two-on, one-out threat in the third when second baseman Robinson Cano, showing improved range over last season, gloved a sharp grounder up the middle and turned it into a double play.
“I’m not able to do that last year,” he said. “I was hurt.”
Cano played the final two months last season with a double hernia.
Plus: Seth Smith had singles in each of his two at-bats, although the second one was a charitable call on a hopper that eluded Padres first baseman Wil Myers. … Cano started his spring with a line-drive single to left with two outs in the first inning. … Ketel Marte worked back from an 0-2 count for a walk in his first plate appearance and then stole second. … Right-hander Donn Roach worked two strong innings after relieving Paxton. Roach is likely bound for Triple-A Tacoma. … Veteran reliever Joel Peralta, in camp as a nonroster invite, worked a one-two-three fifth inning. … Lefty Vidal Nuno pitched a one-two-three eighth inning on 10 pitches. … Tony Zych stranded two runners in the ninth inning by striking out the last two hitters.
Minus: Not much. After stealing second base in the second inning, Marte got picked off. … First baseman Adam Lind whiffed on a routine hopper by Alexi Amarista for an error with one out in the third inning.
Stat pack: The Mariners are 20-22-1 in their 40 spring openers, which include three split-squad doubleheaders. … Two days of situational-hitting drills earlier in the week didn’t pay off. The Mariners were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. … The Mariners struck out only twice.
Quotable: “It’s only the first game,” said Gutierrez, regarding his booming homer. “You’re just trying to make contact. It think it was a good at-bat. He threw me breaking balls and fastballs. He mixed in all of his pitches, and I put a good swing on that pitch. It went out.”
Short hops: This was the 23rd annual Charity Game between the complex co-tenants. Proceeds go to the Peoria Diamond Club, which has distributed more than $1.5 million in previous years. … The Mariners’ starting lineup had players from six countries: the United States (Kyle Seager, Adam Lind, Seth Smith, Chris Iannetta), Japan (Nori Aoki), the Dominican Republic (Robinson Cano and Ketel Marte), Venezuela (Franklin Gutierrez), Cuba (Leonys Martin) and Canada (James Paxton). … It was 84 degrees when Paxton delivered the first pitch at 1:09 p.m. … The attendance was 5,505.
Up next: The Mariners and Padres play again at 12:10 p.m. Thursday at Peoria Stadium. Right-hander Nathan Karns will start against San Diego right-hander Phil Humber.