It was a battle of highly regarded lefty prospects as the San Francisco Giants (11-5) sent Edwin Escobar to the hill to face off against the Seattle Mariners’ (13-5) James Paxton in a split squad game from Peoria.
In fact it is Giants baseball all day today as Matt Cain takes on the Oakland A’s from Scottsdale in a game scheduled for later in the afternoon.
Both Escobar and Paxton would have their ups and downs in the early contest.
They advanced to second and third, respectively, after a pitch in the dirt. Arias scored after a Hector Sanchez chopper that second baseman Willie Bloomquist couldn’t handle in time.
Abreu came in on a Brandon Hicks sacrifice fly and the Giants took a 2-0 lead after their half of the 1st.
The 21-year-old Escobar induced a pair of ground outs in the bottom half of the inning, gave up a single on a hard grounder off the glove of Abreu at second base, then struck out Corey Hart to end the inning.
Outfielder Juan Perez led off the 2nd with a 390-foot solo blast to left.
After a Roger Kieschnick strikeout, newly-added Darren Ford singled off the left leg of Paxton. The throw sailed down the right field line and Ford ended up making it to third on the error.
Arias grounded out and Abreu struck out, stranding Ford. But, after the Perez dinger San Francisco left their half of the second with a 3-0 advantage.
Escobar gave up a pair of singles in the bottom half of the inning but came out unscathed through 38 total pitches in the ball game.
The third wouldn’t go so smoothly.
After a dinger from Mariners’ leadoff hitter Abraham Almonte, Escobar gave up a single to first baseman Justin Smoak, issued a walk to Corey Hart, and then surrendered a one out RBI single to Logan Morrison to allow Seattle to move within 3-2.
Escobar struck out catcher Mike Zunino but then walked Nick Franklin to load the bases, effectively ending his day on the mound after 66 pitches.
Daryl Maday took over and immediately surrounded a 2-RBI single to Michael Saunders, upping Escobar’s earned run total to four and raising his spring ERA to 5.19.
Juan Perez led off the fourth with his second extra-base hit, doubling on a line drive to the gap in right-center. That was all for naught, however, after he was gunned down at third during a steal attempt in Kieschnick’s subsequent at bat.
After another Seattle run in the 4th inning, Tony Abreu was hit by a Fernando Rodney pitch to lead off the 5th. Brandon Belt followed with his first hit of the day, a double off the first base bag that moved Abreu to third.
Abreu scored on a groundout by Hector Sanchez and Belt scored on a single from Brandon Hicks, bringing the score even at 5-5.
In a strange spring twist, Rodney was tossed after repeatedly barking at the home plate umpire about balls and strikes. Former Giants’ reliever Ramon Ramirez came in as his replacement.
Hicks stole second and later scored after a Perez fly ball got lost in the sun for Mariners’ center fielder Almonte, falling in for a single and putting the Giants back in the lead at 6-5 – assist to the Arizona weather.
After a walk, steal and advancement to third on an Arias ground out, Ford added a 7th run for San Francisco in the 6th inning after scoring on a wild pitch.
The Giants broke it open in the seventh. After a pair of singles, an error and three doubles, San Francisco plated five in the inning and extended their lead to 12-5.
The Mariners added a run in the 8th and the Giants another in the 9th bringing the final to 13-6.
Edwin Escobar: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Juan Perez 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI
Brandon Hicks: 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Hector Sanchez: 2-4, 2 RBI
Joe Panik: 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI