Not in the pen yet, Aroldis Chapman goes five innings for Reds

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When the Reds said Ryan Madson needed Tommy John surgery, ruling him out for the season, all indications were that Aroldis Chapman was headed back to the pen to help out in the seventh and eighth innings. Yet the 24-year-old Cuban defector made another start Thursday, allowing two runs in five innings against the Brewers.

Facing something close to Milwaukee’s regular lineup, Chapman struck out six and walked none. Obviously, control is the big issue for him as a potential starter — he walked 41 in 50 innings out of the pen last season — but he’s been great this spring, amassing an 18/2 K/BB ratio in 17 innings of work.

The Reds may still figure they’re better off with Chapman in the pen and Homer Bailey in the rotation, and given Bailey’s ever improving peripherals, they might be right. Still, if Chapman can keep his walk rate down, he’d likely be a dynamic starting pitcher. It’d be nice to see what he can do in that role next month, considering that he can always be sent back to the pen later. It’s not quite so easy going the other way.

Mariners sweep A’s in two-game Japan Series

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The big news, of course, is Ichiro’s retirement. But there was a baseball game that counted today as well and the Mariners took it. Seattle beat Oakland 5-4 in 12 innings to sweep the two-game Japan Series.

Ichiro may have taken an 0-for-4 in his last game, but Ryon Healy and Mitch Haniger homered for the Mariners, staking Seattle to a 3-0 lead after three. The A’s picked up two in the fifth and Seattle added one via a Jay Bruce sac fly to make it 4-2 in the seventh. Oakland tied things back up, ultimately sending it to extras when Khris Davis singled in Matt Chapman in the seventh. Davis would blow a chance to put Oakland ahead in the 11th when he struck out with the bases loaded.

In the twelfth, Domingo Santana, who hit a grand slam in Seattle’s win in the opener on Wednesday, beat out a would-be double-play with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead and, ultimately, winning run.

The rebuilding Mariners are now 2-0 on the young year. The A’s, who won 97 games last year, are 0-2. Viva the smallest of sample sizes.