Wow, where to start? That was one hell of a way to start off a season that we already knew was going to be an adventure. First, the good; Chone Figgins and Ichiro are going to be so fun to watch this year it’s just ridiculous. Without the blown call on Ichiro at third base they would have combined for 4 stolen bases tonight. The peskiness of those two players is going to be huge for this team – not only are the steals nice, but opposing pitchers have a whole lot to think about with that kind of speed on the bases – and being preoccupied with baserunners is bound to cause a good chunk of mistake pitches.
Based on a sample size of one game, Casey Kotchman is going to do an excellent job in the 3-hole. Sure, he really only hit the ball hard once, but he managed to get the job done – and while that isn’t meaningful in terms of predicting future performance or any type of real analysis, for tonight, I’m satisfied.
Watching a lineup that has patience sure is fun, huh? I don’t really know how to react when I see the Mariners draw 8 walks. Last year was fun, but all of the free swinging got really annoying – doesn’t look like we’ll need to worry about that this year. Lastly, Felix looked really sharp despite it being the first game of the year. His stuff was extra filthy in those first ~5 innings, and he didn’t allow a ball to leave the infield until the 6th. His line is tainted by the six walks, but when you account for the horrible umpiring you could easily subtract a couple of those, and even add a couple of strikeouts.
Now, the bad; choosing to bring Sean White in during the seventh inning was a questionable decision at best. Sean White is alright, but he should not be used in high pressure situations – especially when everyone in the bullpen is completely fresh. The Mariners had Brandon League, Shawn Kelley, and Mark Lowe available to throw 1 1/3 innings and bridge the gap to Aardsma (who looked really good, by the way). It was a bad call, it cost Felix a win, and it very well could have cost us the game.
The umpiring was downright embarrassing, obviously. No one on this entire crew could get it together. The only ump that didn’t make at least one bad call was first base. That’s it. The home plate umpire (whose name I can’t spell) was just all over the place – he wouldn’t give anyone the low strike, and he was calling the inside ones at completely random times. The third base ump screwed the pooch when he called Ichiro out, and the second base umpire needs lasik surgery if he thinks Rajai Davis caught that Kotchman bloop. I’m not going to go over my whole case for robot umpires – I’ve said it all before, but it’s just getting ridiculous.
Not all that much else to say. Rob Johnson walked twice and hit a home run, but he also dropped several easy-to-handle pitches and grounded into a double play. I don’t know what to think about that right now.
Overall, tough not to be at least cautiously optimistic about what we saw tonight. Yeah, there are a few issues that need to be addressed, but there are plenty of things to be excited about regarding the team that Jack Zduriencik & Co. has put together.