After a happy Opening Day for Mariners fans everywhere, it’s time to forget the past and look to game 2 of the Opening Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (that name never– and by never I mean always– gets old). This one is just as important as the last one, and the next one. Just because one day made us happy doesn’t mean today can’t make us sad. The M’s need to make a statement today, especially with 22 of their first 25 games against division opponents.
Firsts of the Season:
Typically my Initial Thoughts in the gameday preview will be short and sweet (like above). But since the Mariners got so many firsts out of the way last night, I want to give a quick run down of the first tick in each of the big statistical categories.
First run scored: Justin Smoak
First RBI: Michael Saunders (scored Smoak on a sacrafice fly in the 3rd)
First triple: Mike Zunino (to score Ackley as the tying run in the 7th)
First home run: a 3-run, 2-out Smoak Bomb in the bottom of the 9th
First Cano Intentional Walk (IBB): came in only his fourth at-bat, immediately before the aforementioned Smoak Bomb
First stolen base: Logan Morrison (bet you didn’t have that in your office pool)
First win: Felix Hernandez (and your Seattle Mariners).
Seattle Mariners (1-0) — Previous 10: (1-0)
Los Angeles Angels (0-1) — Previous 10: (0-1)
Time of game: 7:05 PM Pacific (4:05 AM in Paris if you were curious). Location: Anaheim, California.
EDGE: Wilson. He has the Major League experience and consistency that the 23 year old Pocket Rocket still lacks; Ramirez could prove to have a formidable season, but experience and consistency favors Wilson.
Abraham Almonte 8
Justin Smoak 3
Stefen Romero 9
John Buck 2
Of note: Corey Hart is expected to make his Mariners and season debut tonight against the Angels. His health– and power bat– will be key, especially since the Mariners are facing lefty starters the next two nights. The ability of this lineup to hit lefties will be a major question throughout the season.
Mike Trout 8
Raul Ibanez DH
Of note: The Angels should be trotting out the same lineup they had last night, especially facing another righty in Ramirez. Aside from Aybar, batting 9th, the top 4 in the Angels order were the only ones to produce for the Halos last night. They’ll need production from Freese, Ibanez, and Iannetta to be competitive throughout this season.
Keys to Mariner Victory:
1) Can the lefty heavy lineup hit a lefty starting pitcher? If the answer is yes, look for the Mariners to be more than competent for the bulk of the season.
2) Is Erasmo Ramirez Major League material? He is no number 2 starter, not yet at least. But he has shown the potential to be a middle of the rotation arm with serious upside, especially at 23 years old. If he can stay healthy and focused, the M’s could have a deep rotation when Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma return from injury.
3) Smoak hitting from the right side of the plate, Ackley continuing to hit. Two guys that are paramount to Mariners success this year and beyond had big nights last night. Both went 2-4 with 3 2-out RBI apiece in the top of the 9th. If these two guys are really figuring it out, that’d make me one happy camper.
GM Jack Z had to go ahead and ruin what was a happy Opening Night victory: leaked information says that Z is looking to trade for Alex Rodriguez (yes, that A-Rod) for the 2015 season if the New York Yankees are willing to eat up some serious salary. A-Rod could fit as a DH, seeing as Hart is only on a one year deal with the M’s.
Tonight should be another fun night of baseball– when is it ever not? Ramirez will not have the same success against the potent top of the order like King Felix did. So for the Mariners to come up with their second win in as many days, they’ll have to put up run totals like they did last night.
Score Prediction: Mariners 5, Angels 4. (What can I say, I’m a homer).