It is important for this blog to stay regularly updated, especially during baseball season. This will be the first of our new weekly post. Every Sunday (or Monday, people get busy okay?) I will take a look at the previous week in Mariners' baseball and see what we should be expecting this upcoming week. As big stories unfold between both the Seahawks and Mariners sporadically, this weekly posting will give this blog a better sense of structure. With that in mind, here is the first week's review!
And what a first week it was. With a clean three game sweep of my least favorite team, the Mariners have done something no M's team since 2002 has done; given me hope and excitement. While the M's tend to start off well, they never seem to be able to replicate that small amount of success into anything long term. While we are only one week into the season, this team has given me at least a small hint of changing that.
AT Los Angeles-Anaheim 3-0, (3-0)
The opening series took place in wretched Anaheim, home of my least favorite baseball team, the Angels. Seattle has been accustomed to seeing good pitching performances by the M's starters, but this was dominating. The "potent" Angel offense was only able to score 8 runs (only 6 earned) all series.
Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Raul Ibanez went a combined 7-33with 15 strikeouts. The Seattle pitching game was on fire. Felix Hernandez pitched the poorest of the bunch, pitching 6.0 innings and giving up 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out 11. Yes, I mentioned it was the poorest of the three. Erasmo Ramirez took the hill the following night, pitching 7.0 innings, striking out 6 while givine up 3 earned runs. James Paxton, the new guy, pitched 7.0 shut out innings while only allowing 2 hits.
The offense was no slouch either. In the series, the M's scored 26 runs, almost averaging 9 runs a game. The main ingredients in the series were Brad Miller (5-15, 5 RBIs), Justin Smoak (6-13, 7 RBIs), Dustin Ackley (4-11, 4 RBIs), and Robinson Cano (5-11, 1 RBI). While Cano wasn't able to hit many runs in, he had an On Base Percentage of .600. Every successful team year in and year out have more than once player that is able to contribute offensively. Seattle's biggest weakness in year's past have been their inability to support steller pitching. The Opening Series was as perfect as it could have gotten on both sides of the diamond.
AT Oakland 1-2 (4-2)
The Oakland series was a bit different. These were the Mariners I remember watching every year for the last 10 years. After scoring 26 runs in the Anaheim series, the M's could only muster 8 in Oakland. Abraham Almonte, growing on me, went 4-12 with 3 RBIs in the series. Robinson Cano was the only other Mariner to have a solid series, going 4-12 with 1 RBI. Miller and Ackley continued to hit well, but at a much slower pace than the previous series. One bright note was that the M's struck first in every game. Giving your pitchers early leads is important, and this team will need to continue to do so if they want to stay successful.
The pitching wasn't nearly as bad as the series wants us to believe. Game 1 starter, Roenis Elias pitched 4.2 innings of no hit ball before a (terribly) botched third strike call turned into the only run he gave up all game. The Cuban only gave up 2 hits in his Major League debut, another big plus to the M's arsenal. Unfortunately, the worst pitcher in the history of the game of baseball, Hector Noesi, gave up an extra inning homerun to Coco Crisp to end the Mariners' winning streak. Thankfully, he was released the following day (hahahahahahha finalllllllly.) The following game, King Felix did what King Felix does, pitching 8.1 innings, only giving up one run. With that win in tact, Fernando Rodney was able to get his first (of hopefully many) save in an M's uniform. Erasmo Ramirez pitched the only poor perfomance of the year thus far, pitching 4.0 innings and giving up 5 runs. Again, not a horrendous day, and something the offense will need to be able to overcome in the future.
Overall, liked what I saw from the club this week. The offense looks much more energized than in previous years. Manager Lloyd McClendon has been able to put in successful lineups and put players in positions to succeed. Robinson Cano's impact has also been felt, not just in the box score. He has embraced his leadership role, and it seems to have rubbed off on the younger players. Some of the young guys have looked good early, but still have a lot of learning to do at the big league level. The key this week will be saving the bullpen arms and not wearing them down, which means the young guns (Ramirez, Paxton, Elias) will need to eat some big innings.
4-2 is nothing to scoff at, and the Mariners should look to continue this hot start once they get back to Seattle. This is baseball, however, and no team clinched a playoff berth in the first week. These guys need to continue playing well, and give something for M's fans to cheer about.
Good news everybody! We get this guy for an additional three years.
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