The Seattle Mariners got the season off to a sluggish start hampered by their old friend, lack of offense, in splitting the first two games of the season against Oakland in Tokyo. However, between that slow start of the season and this weekend, the Mariners’ bats have come alive. The offense led the way twice to lead the Mariners to a weekend sweep of the A’s. Seattle won Friday night 7-3 and followed that up with 8 runs in holding off the A’s 8-7 last night. It is still early in the season, but at 3-1 the Mariners will be in first place in the A.L. West going into Texas for their series starting on Monday.
Good News. The bats have come alive! Going into Friday’s game, only two Mariner batters were batting over .200. Chone Figgins exploded over the weekend in his new leadoff spot. Figgins finished a home run away from the cycle Saturday night going 3-for-5 and is leading the team now in batting average (.412) and RBI (4). Dustin Ackley continues to impress in his first full season, spear heading the offense on Friday night with a 3-for-5 night. The Mariners’ starting pitching who impressed in Tokyo each picked up their first victories of the season this weekend. Jason Vargas left after 5.1 innings Friday night with a 7-2 lead the bullpen held down for him. He allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out three. Felix Hernandez, who started Saturday so that he would pitch the team’s home opener on the 13th, struggled after being spotted a rare big lead. Up 7-0, Hernandez gave up 6 earned runs as the A’s clawed back to within 8-6. Hernandez gave up 8 hits and 6 earned runs, but did strike out seven batters in 6.1 innings. The bullpen held the lead both nights with Brandon League nailing down his second save of the season finishing off Saturday night.
Bad News. There isn’t much downside to playing a division rival on the road and starting the season 3-1. The young bats in the middle of the order, though, have struggled. Justin Smoak, the clean-up batter, started 2-for-17 in these four games against the A’s but does have 1 home run. After being day-to-day after getting hit in the head in a Spring Training game on Monday, Jesus Montero did play this weekend but is 3-for-15 with 0 HR and 1 RBI.
The Horizon. Seattle will continue playing division foes on the road when they travel for four games against Texas. The Rangers have split the first two games they’ve played this season against the White Sox. Mariner fans will now get to see the rest of the rotation. With the odd early season schedule and a week’s break between games with the A’s, Vargas started twice and Hernandez started twice. Hector Noesi and Kevin Millwood will make their Mariner debuts in Texas, along with the first appearance of the season from Blake Beavan. In fifteen starts for Seattle last season, Beavan was 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 97 IP.