Control-the-zone philosophy working wonders

Seattle hitters took 14 walks in win over Padres

Control-the-zone philosophy working wonders

PEORIA, Ariz. -- They might have a little trouble keeping up this pace, but the Mariners' control-the-zone philosophy has been in full force in Seattle's two Cactus League-opening wins, as their pitchers have yet to issue a walk while the hitters have drawn 19 free passes from the Padres.

That combination added up to a pair of wins by a 26-5 margin, including Sunday's 13-2 victory in which the Mariners drew 14 walks.

"We had a lot of long at-bats and they struggled getting it over the plate a little bit," said manager Scott Servais. "But we didn't chase. We stayed with our plan. It was a long game, but getting it going, second game into it, there were a lot of good at-bats."

Ten different Mariners drew bases on balls, including two apiece by Danny Valencia, Robinson Cano, Carlos Ruiz and Tyler O'Neill.

PITCHERS DO THEIR PART

The Mariners went with six pitchers Sunday who likely will open the season at Triple-A Tacoma, but that group performed well as Seattle's hurlers have now totaled 18 innings without a walk.

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"I've really been happy with our pitching staff," Servais said. "Guys are going right after 'em, attacking and trying to get early contact."

Starter Chris Heston, a 12-game winner for the Giants two years ago, allowed just a lone single in two innings of work.

"He was effective," said Servais. "He had a good sinker, which is what we thought we were getting there. He went right after them and didn't try to overpower anybody at this point. But I really like the way the ball moves at the bottom of the strike zone."

OVERTON LEAVES GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

Dillon Overton, a 25-year-old southpaw acquired from the A's in January, also allowed just one hit in two innings after replacing Heston. Servais liked what he saw from the Oklahoma native.

"He showed something," Servais said. "His changeup was really effective against left-handed hitters and you don't usually see that from younger pitchers. But that is his go-to pitch. He's a real athletic guy who throws strikes and spun the breaking ball pretty good. First outing, pretty darn good."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.