It feels really weird going into a season with my expectations set so low. They were high in 2008 because it was my first formal season having my own tickets, they were reasonably high in 2009 because by that time I was more familiar with the team, and they were pretty high last year because of Cliff Lee and all the things I figured might happen maybe. But this year, it’s hard to muster the normal enthusiasm I might otherwise have because honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen, and it feels like the slate has been wiped pretty clean, with the addition of new coaching/management and the loss and replacement of players as much as we’ve had this year. The unexpectedness of some guys making the roster over other guys also enhances my inability to really know what to think. Maybe I’m just putting too much stock in the fact that the Seattle Mariners have won the first two games of their 2011 season, and not taking into account the very real fact that the wins were due as much to our running game and pitching as much as to Oakland’s super ugly fielding errors. So, a few things I noticed…
Brendan Ryan. Not only does the Ryan/Jack Wilson SS/2B combo make me feel really toasty and comfortable, but Ryan himself over the past two games has been an amazing baserunner. In both the games played so far this year, Ryan has brought his run in by sliding behind the catcher (both times Kurt Suzuki) and slapping home plate on his way, out running the ball in some very close situations. I would like to see a lot more of this – not only for the we-got-a-run-in factor, but also because I adore close plays at home, and watching Ryan has been like watching Indiana Jones grab his hat from under a quickly-closing ancient stone door. What a rush! I will also hope that these plays have not been due to possible slowness on Kurt Suzuki’s part – when in doubt, I’ll give credit to Ryan.
Brad Ziegler’s two outings have just bummed me out. I like Ziegler, and even against us I want to see him throw well – but he’s been responsible during both games for allowing men on and scoring. The Mariners fan in me doesn’t mind, but the Ziegler fan in me has been yelling at the TV. It’s depressing to me to see a guy with a unique pitching style completely fail at what he’s worked so long to perfect. I’m sure Ziegler’s getting enough grief from Oakland fans, though, so I’ll just leave it at that. No need to badger the guy here. Hope he is just getting off to a rough start, and that it’s nothing more serious.
The A’s have essentially handed us both of these games. Sloppy throwing, sloppy pitching, sloppy fielding – it has looked a lot like we’re playing some sad little league team, not a major league organization. I think for this reason if we beat them today, I’ll be happy for the win, but it will still feel a little hollow, because I know that the A’s didn’t really play up to their full potential. I may have to rely on the series against Texas for the Mariners to show me their worth. At least for now.
Brandon League took a turn closing for us last night, and he was good. Really good. In 13 pitches, he wound up with a flyout and two groundouts, and I happen to feel that’s just swell. He obtained the save (of course) which is weird to see on GameDay, but I won’t complain.
Random bits: Ichiro, of course, broke Edgar Martinez’s hit record, but since it happened in Oakland, there was very little fanfare. It seems that a lot of his records happen away from home, and that is a bummer. Not only would Mariners fans and SafeCo Field give him the ovation and recognition at the moment, but I might actually witness some history firsthand, and could actually say I was there. Some day, maybe…Jason Vargas is still wonderful. He lasted 6 and 2/3 innings last night, and got curiously pulled for Jamey Wright with a man on after getting two outs, and his pitches didn’t seem to be getting out of the 80s, but it’s nice to see his first performance be a good one….David Aardsma took a bullpen today, and had this to say about it. Good deal. FSN just showed him taking some throws, and he looks fine.
Lastly, I have procured white shoes. I will be wearing them to Opening Day, and every game I go to this year, Mariners, Rainiers, AquaSox, whatever. So I’ve got a ‘tradition’ now. I’m pleased with it, they should be here by Thursday.
I will not be able to watch a lot of the game today, as I will be watching a live game, in the form of my friend Dan’s softball team playing a game over here in West Seattle in about an hour. I’ll have ESPN and Rick Rizzs in an ear, though, to keep track of Doug Fister’s first outing of the year. Spectacular!