Mariners Game Preview: King Felix Makes 9th Opening Day Start


The Mariners send Felix to the mound looking for their 10th straight Opening Day victory.

It’s Opening Day! Spring is in the air and hope is renewed for all 30 teams. Each team is on a level playing field once again, and fans everywhere believe that this could be their year.

Here in Seattle, we have plenty to be excited about. After a busy winter full of transactions made by Jerry Dipoto, this team is revamped and looking to make a playoff run in 2016.

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This afternoon the Seattle Mariners (0-0) will take on the Texas Rangers (0-0) in Globe Life Park in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm PT as Felix Hernandez (0-0, 0.00) will take the mound in his 9th Opening Day start. The southpaw Cole Hamels (0-0, 0.00) will get the start for the Rangers.

In his 8 career Opening Day starts, Felix has been at the top of his game going 6-0 with an ERA of 1.49. After going 0-2 with an ERA of 4.11 in spring training, he will shift into that next gear for the start of the regular season. So Happy Felix Day everyone, and enjoy the first of many in 2016!

Hamels was traded to the Rangers last season and made 12 starts for them down the stretch, going 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA over 83.2 innings of work. Over his 3 spring training starts, he went 1-0 with an ERA of 5.79.

Here are the Opening Day lineups as announced by Mariners skipper Scott Servais and Rangers manager Jeff Banister:

Norichika Aoki is one of the 13 newcomers on the 25-man roster and will be the M’s everyday left fielder, hitting leadoff. With a career OBP of .353 and a very low strikeout rate, he is bound to get on base often enough to give the middle of the order plenty of opportunities to drive him.

Shortstop Ketel Marte is hitting in the 2 hole, as he usually will against lefties. Against righties, Kyle Seager will move up into the 2 slot. Hitting 3rd is Robinson Cano at second base, followed by Nelson Cruz hitting cleanup and playing right field.

Kyle Seager will hit 5th against lefties and will be at third base. Hitting 6th is Franklin Gutierrez who had a heck of a spring, slugging 4 homeruns and driving in 7 in 14 games. This will be just his second opening day as part of the active roster since 2010 after dealing with numerous injuries.

All new additions will round out the final 3 spots in the order, with Adam Lind hitting 7th and playing first base. New catcher Chris Iannetta will hit 8th and centerfielder Leonys Martin will hit 9th, making his first start as a Mariner against his former team.

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Lind adds depth to the middle of the order with a career slash line of .274/.332/.466, and should be able to drive in plenty of runs. Iannetta will be a major improvement over last season in terms of offensive output. Despite having a career batting average of .231, he has a career .351 OBP and will hopefully give the top of the order some RBI opportunities.

Martin is a very interesting addition to the club. After a down year in 2015, hitting only .219/.264/.313, the Mariners are looking for a bounce-back season from his bat. But he brings more to the team than just his hitting. Over the last 3 seasons, Martin has stolen 81 bases, something the M’s haven’t had in a while. Adding speed to the bottom of the order will hopefully create a spark that can rattle pitchers and get them to make mistakes. Martin also adds a great amount of athleticism to the outfield which will be a major improvement over Brad Miller bumbling through centerfield last year.

This afternoon’s game will be televised by Root Sports and will also be aired on ESPN. subscribers can stream the game on connected devices, and as always, Pacific Northwest listeners can hear the game on 710 ESPN.

Next: Miley Shines and Marte Mashes as Mariners Tie

Go follow SoDo Mojo on twitter, for live updates throughout today’s game. And be sure to check back here after the final out has been recorded for a full recap of the action. Go Mariners!