Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland A’s – 3 Things to Watch

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Apr 8, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) stands outside the cage during batting practice against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino Need to Step Up

Nelson Cruz led the Major Leagues in home runs last season by clubbing 40 dingers with the Baltimore Orioles. The Mariners aggressively pursued the powerful right-hander on the open market this offseason, and signed him to a 4-year 57 million dollar deal. Cruz had a nice spring, but looked uncomfortable at the plate during the opening series against the Angels. Cruz collected just 1 hit in 11 at bats, and failed to capitalize with the tying run in scoring position in the 8th inning on Wednesday night. I still have faith in the Mariners’ DH, and I believe he will fare much better this weekend in the East Bay. Look for Cruz to connect on his first home run in a Mariners’ uniform at some point this weekend.

Apr 7, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15) throws to first for a putout against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Seager was a critical player on last season’s 87-win team. Seager is a gifted defender, and he made his first All Star appearance in 2014 after hitting .268 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI’s. Seags has gotten off to a slow start this season, entering Friday’s game hitting just .100 with 1 home run and 2 RBI’s. His lone dinger came in the M’s last game, so perhaps he is starting to heat up. Seager is Seattle’s number 5 hitter, and obviously he will be expected to contribute more than 1 hit per series going forward. Seags is one of the best young players in baseball, and I envision him heating up on this week’s California road trip.

The Mariners’ backstop hit 22 home runs in his first full season with the M’s in 2014, but he posted a disappointing .199 batting average. Mike Zunino made some adjustments over the winter and he put together an incredible spring, hitting .352 with 7 home runs and 14 RBI’s. Fans were hoping he would carry over his spring performance into the regular season, but thus far he has struggled to replicate his Cactus League success. Zunino is hitting.100 across his first 10 at bats, and he showed poor plate discipline against the Angels this week. I have high hopes for Zunino in 2015, and I predict he will hit his first home run of the season this weekend.

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