It was the only game in town, and the Seattle Mariners first intra-squad game of 2012 was a well-attended affair Friday that saw flashes of the future in an intriguing little debut game for rookie pitchers Dan Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
And while those three fought off nerves and some command issues, it was the venerable Jason Vargas, 29, who owned the day – and the hitters.
In two scoreless innings, Vargas was perfect while striking out four.
“I threw a lot of curves, a few changeups and felt good,” Vargas said. “Next time around, probably three innings. It was a good start to the spring.”
Meanwile, those three phenoms worked three innings, one apiece, that trio allowed two hits, one run, two walks and struck out four. And then they all went to dinner together.
“I didn’t have control of my curve and my fastball wasn’t like I’d want it,” Paxton said. “I’m probably my own hardest critic, but I was only happy with six, seven pitches.”
Hultzen lost a 10-pitch duel with new leadoff hitter Chone Figgins, who drew a walk and worked his way around to score.
“That was the most important at-bat of the inning, it set up everything that followed,” Hultzen said. “He spoiled some good pitches. I got a little taste of how good major league hitters can be
“The best thing about my inning? I got it out of the way and now I can go on to the next one and do better.”
And then there was young Walker, 19, who faced three batters, struck out two of them and headed to the shower.
“We got game one under their belts and they were all impressive,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We shook the rust off most everybody and we”ll get anyone wo didn’t pitch (Friday) into the next intra-squad game Sunday.”
The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Offensive highlights? Brendan Ryan homered, and Carlos Peguero shattered his bat – was left holding only about a 12-inch sliver of it – and tripled to deep right field. Yes, the lad is strong. No Mariner had more than one hit.