Week one of the 2014 MLB season brought some serious bats to the Seattle Mariner organization, and resulted in the kind of giddy, vibrating happy haps that the Emerald City hasn’t felt since… Well, since February. Damn you, Seahawks, for ruining a perfectly good blog lede. M’man John Stewart giddily shakes his way through this Week One Mariners wrap-up. On with the Boys of Summer!
Felix Hernandez walks off the mound after tossing 11 strikeouts in his first start of the 2014 season. Photo ripped unceremoniously from the interweb.
Being a Seattle Mariners fan always includes plenty of angst. One is simultaneously hopeful (Cano! Miller! Seager! Felix!) and terrified (Hart, Morrison, Ackley, Saunders, Smoak…) So many good things could happen! And oh, so many bad things could as well.
Somehow this team not only swept their opening series against Albert Pujols and the Anaheim Angels, but did so in grand style. Production up and down the lineup! C Mike Zunino, he of so much promise yet so much growing to do, came up big multiple times. CF Abe Almonte, similar to Zunino in the promise-but-growing-needed camp, showed off his speed (and inability to properly play balls in centre field, but hey, he’s learning). In each of those three Angels games we saw either six or seven Mariners with at least one hit – exactly the kind of production this lineup needs to deliver. Second baseman Robinson Cano is looking great, but you can’t expect any player (even one making that much money) to carry the team on his back. Baseball is, inevitably, a team sport.
As I write this, the Mariners have recovered from their single loss so far this season by beating the Athletics 3-1…and lead the American League West, with a 4-1 record. It has been difficult to keep both feet on the ground this week, to be honest.
All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano brings great expectations (and a whole lot of greenbacks) to Seattle this season. Photo cribbed from a random website
That loss to the Athletics could be chalked up to some of the worst umpiring I have ever seen. Sean Barber made his Major League umpiring debut behind the plate, and after this outing, the hope is that he goes back to AAA for some more work. The game also featured (thankfully) the last appearance by pitcher Hector Noesi in a Mariners uniform, as he was designated for assignment yesterday.
Another thing going well for the team is the starting pitching, despite the absence of Hisashi Iwakuma and Tai Walker. Erasmo Ramirez came up big in his first start, a welcome development given last season, and Felix Hernandex is the King for a reason (he had a shutout going into the 9th inning in today’s win over the A’s).
This Mariner team is long on promise and short on proven track record. But the American League West is a very different division from a year ago. The Rangers are hampered by injuries, the Angels’ expensive lineup is far from a sure thing, and as everyone who follows the division knows, the Athletics cannot be counted out – but also can not be counted on before the second half.
So for Mariners fans, this first week has been about as good as we dared hope. The offense has done exactly what it needed to do, the starting pitching has been frankly better than anticipated, and the bullpen has not completely imploded. A solid outing from Fernando Rodney in today’s victory over the A’s certainly did not hurt; while I don’t expect Rodney to be as good as he was last season, a productive year from him in the closer role will go a long way toward keeping the Mariners competitive.
The Mariners need to make it through April and at least keep it close. With Iwakuma and Walker coming back (hopefully some time in May) the rotation will only get better. And if the offense can continue to produce at anything close to the rate they did against the
Angels… well, it’s going to be a fun year.