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Drayer: Mariners off on the right foot with 8-1 Cactus League win over A’s

PEORIA, Ariz. – Two minutes after the Mariners completed their 8-1 win over the Oakland A’s on Friday afternoon, the rain came.

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No matter – all of the necessary work for the day had been accomplished, and now with just 19 games remaining before the opener in Japan, that was the most important outcome.

“Good day,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “A lot of at-bats. We got everybody in there the last two days.”

A Dee Gordon walk – which is about as rare as snow in Scottsdale, and yes we had that too – followed by a Mitch Haniger home run got the Mariners on the board in the first inning. Haniger credited the Mariners’ new approach to live batting practice in part to getting him going early.

“We played some games during the live BP, kind of made it more competitive. I think that helped lock it in a little bit,” Haniger said.

Mike Leake started the game and pitched two scoreless innings, and while he acknowledged that with a shorter spring training he needed to “put it in fifth gear rather than the normal third gear,” the complete build-up process will be slower.

“It felt pretty good,” Leake said. “Still working the kinks out. It will take three more to get there and I should definitely be ready to go.”

Servais pointed to new acquisitions Zac Rosscup, who threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and Justin Dunn as having standout performances.

“Rosscup threw really well,” he said. “And a nice appearance from Justin Dunn. New to the organization, get that first inning under your belt. He was really good, really aggressive. I liked what I saw there.”

Servais also liked what he saw earlier in the day from Yusei Kikuchi, who threw his third and final live BP.

“I thought he was really sharp, a lot of strikes, a good breaking ball,” he said.

Kikuchi himself said he was more satisfied with his performance Friday than in his first live BP. Oddly enough, the weather was an asset.

“I think today the rain really helped me grip the baseball. Arizona is really dry and the humidity helped a little today.”

Kikuchi threw 27 pitches over two innings to Gordon, Kristopher Negron and Ryon Healy, who broke down what he saw.

“Good fastball, good life, a couple of different curveballs,” Healy said. “Funky timing with the leg kick and he hides the ball well. Out of his hand has some angles. Tough to pick up.”

We could see Kikuchi in his first Cactus League game as soon as Monday.

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