Yesterday was not the best Opening Day I could have asked for; I couldn’t watch a Felix start in which the Mariners gave up one hit and still managed to lose 3-2 (though if I put it that way, it doesn’t sound like a negative). On top of that, I learned by trial and error how doubling down on hitter choices for Beat the Streak works (Machado hit, Goldschmidt went 0 for 4, so I got nothing; for some reason I thought that if one of them got a hit, I’d be fine; which is not at all what the instructions said, but it was really early when I made my picks and I might not have been quite awake yet. I avoid Vegas for similar reasons; I’m simply not that great at gambling). The loss broke a nine-year streak of opening wins for the Mariners, but as a lot of people were mentioning, the past nine years haven’t been all that great for us, so if you’re a baseball person you might be prone to believe in signs or the concept of curses and the like. A lot of people were annoyed at the manner in which we lost, but it’s only the first game. I try not to get super upset until about a week or two after the All Star break.
I typed the above sentence before checking Twitter and seeing that Hisashi Iwakuma is already at 18 pitches for the bottom half of the first inning. A small dinner for me later, he had settled down and his pitch count was only 30 in the bottom of the third, and Seattle was up 1-0 on a Chris Iannetta single. When Iwakuma has trouble, he seems to throw a lot of pitches very early on without giving up many runs before finally hitting a groove; the drawback being that he tires sooner and the bullpen needs to be relied on. He snuck out of the third inning on a Prince Fielder flyout.
Nelson Cruz hit a home run in the top of the fourth, Mariners 2-0. Cruz was my original pick today, but I decided to go with Miguel Cabrera instead, in honor of the opening of the Tigers season, and the fact that Miggy had a really high average against the Miami Marlins. He came through for me today, and I have officially started my first streak! Mitch Moreland got a double in the bottom of the 4th, slapping a 72MPH curve into a gap in center field that Leonys Martin was unable to get to in time. Elvis Andrus drove him in with an opposite side single to right field. Robinson Chirinos hit another single and drove in Roughned Odor to tie the game at 2. At this point, Iwakuma was at nearly 70 pitches at the end of the fourth, and it was becoming a pretty ugly game.
I pulled up Game Day during the bottom of the 5th, as some people on Twitter brought to my attention the fact that the umpire’s strike zone was different for Iwakuma than it was for Ranger Martin Perez. It didn’t matter, though, as after a Robinson Cano ground out, and Nelson Cruz walk, Kyle Seager grounded into a double play to end the inning; we didn’t need an umpire to do that work for us.
Kuma’s game was over for the day, and newbie Nick Vincent was brought in to hold the Rangers at bay. Roughned Odor struck out swinging, and Elvis Andrus reached base on what looked like a ball-kicking from Ketel Marte at short. Robinson Chirinos was called out on strikes, and finally Vincent got Delino DeShields to ground out to end the inning with no further run damage.
I got derailed into several conversations on Twitter about the food at Globe Life Park, while Tony Barnette was on the bump for the Rangers. Seth Smith wound up on base, and was driven in on a double by Leonys Martin, on what looked like a fielding error by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Norichika Aoki followed that up with a single back at Choo again, and Martin took the plate. Mariners 4-2. Joel Peralta took the hill for the Ms in the bottom of the 7th, and gave up no further runs to Texas.
Tom Wilhelmsen showed up for the Rangers in the top of the 8th. Dressed in Rangers clothes. For the Rangers. Not a fan. Robbie Cano took him yard immediately. Both Wilhelmsen’s new togs and Cano’s home run hurt a bit. So did the double that Nelson Cruz took out of him with some very hawkish baserunning, sliding in underneath the catch. Then things went bonkers. Kyle Seager hit a double, score 6-2 Mariners. Seth Smith hit a homer into the upper deck over right field, 8-2 Mariners. Wilhelmsen looked tired, and then plonked Chris Iannetta in the back of the thigh, which appeared to be completely accidental, but Iannetta did not take it that way. Iannetta dropped his bat and immediately started yelling at Wilhelmsen, with the Rangers catcher and home plate ump standing close to him along the first baseline to keep them separated. Wilhelmsen didn’t leave the mound, but his teammates came into the infield, and some of the Mariners came out of the dugout, including manager Scott Servais, who yelled at either Wilhelmsen or one of the umpires to “go fuck yourself!“, while pointing towards the mound (I’m working on honing my lip reading skills this year). In the kerfuffle, it was difficult to tell who Servais’ words were meant for. A bunch more yelling ensued, nobody was close enough to punch anyone else, and the broadcast went to commercial. When it came back on air, Wilhelmsen had been thrown out of the game and replaced by Andrew Faulkner, who gave a dinger to Luis Sardinas to bring himself and Iannetta home. Score 10-2.
Tony Zych was on duty for the Ms in the bottom of the 8th inning. Ian Desmond was the year’s first contested call, as his foot hit the bag at literally the same moment the ball went into Luis Sardinas’ glove. Desmond was originally called out, but the Rangers wisely disputed the call, and were rewarded their base after review. Zych polished off Roughned Odor, Elvis Andrus, and Robinson Chirinos in order. The 9th inning was completed with no further scoring from either team.
Some random general observations on the first game I’ve been able to watch this year…
- Dae-Ho Lee’s first game in a Mariners uniform took place this evening, and while he did very little at the bat in his two plate appearances, he did well at first base, and is a man of amazing stature. He dwarfed Adrian Beltre! I am hoping he gets a hit soon, I’d like to see him interviewed post game. I love that we have a Korean player. It just adds to the diversity and character of the team.
- Speaking of food at Globe Life – and of Adrian Beltre – the ROOT Sports camera crew is still enamoured with the giant food at this ballpark. I am well aware of the two-foot long absolutely massive unrealness that is the BoomStick hotdog, but had no clue until this evening speaking breiftly to Brad Adam that the Rangers also have a Beltre burger. I neglected to get a shot of the first pass that the cameras did at the booth that serves these culinary monstrosities, but if I had, I would have been able to get a shot of what looks like a 2-3-foot kebab grilling alongside the BoomStick dogs. As it is, I managed to get this photo. The Beltre burger is clearly down front, and that isn’t really a perspective trick. That’s how big the food is there:
- Scott Servais does not mess around. I liked Don Wakamatsu’s quiet stoic approach to managing, and his near-successful goal of not having any of his players or himself ejected from the game. Lloyd McClendon threw a few good fits while he was here, but it seemed to take a lot to get him out of that dugout. Servais was out of the dugout very quickly tonight in defense of his catcher, and wasted zero time getting down to business and involving himself in tonight’s altercation. For whatever I might personally think of civilians fighting, I understand that it is sometimes a necessary evil in baseball, and Servais’s willingness to get up and throw himself into the fray speaks volumes about how much he already cares about this team that he has helped mold over the last month and change. I like it.
- While we were technically hitting some seriously minor-league level pitching during that messy 8th inning, tonight’s win had to have gotten the guys fired up, after yesterday’s awkward loss. That’s a good thing. I hope everyone gets a bunch of rest tonight and comes back out on fire tomorrow as well.
So Wade Miley goes up against veteran Colby Lewis tomorrow, in a game I will not be able to watch or listen to. I’ll be keeping track with At Bat while I’m at work, and getting more and more excited for Friday. This week is going kind of slow for me because I’m waiting for something, but only two more days until baseball is finally coming back to Seattle! Good luck tomorrow, Mariners!