What We Learned: Seattle Mariners Vs. Astros April 3rd
The Mariners opened up their season this evening versus the Houston Astros and the team did not look the way fans were expecting. The offense was stagnant and Felix Hernandez was decent but not great culminating to a 3-0 M’s loss to open the 2017 season. Here is what we learned after tonight’s season-opener.
Coming into this highly anticipated Opening Day match-up, the Mariners had a chance to show off how good they can be all season long. Instead, most every part of the team failed to live up to those expectations.
In fact, the M’s offense was so non-existent, the team didn’t score a run in an Opening Day match for the first time since 2003 when they played the Athletics in Oakland.
Worst of all, Hernandez had to exit the game after the 5th with groin tightness. It is unclear if his misstep and slight twist of the ankle at first base as he was covering the base to record an out had anything to do with the injury.
If you’re trying to find good news, newly acquired, James Pazos went a perfect 1.1 innings in his M’s debut in relief, Casey Fien went a perfect inning of his own in relief, and one of the M’s biggest offseason signings, Jean Segura, collected two of team’s three hits.
By all means, this was not a fun game to watch if you are a Mariners fan, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t have learned anything during tonight’s game. Here’s what we learned by the time of the final pitch
Killed By Keuchel
The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner was back to his old form tonight. His line of 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, and 4 K was exactly what the M’s didn’t want to see tonight. He needed just 85 pitches, 27 through the first three innings.
But his pitching ability wasn’t the only part of his arsenal that was on display tonight. He made three key defensive plays to stifle the M’s offense.
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In the 3rd, the former Gold Glove winner perfectly fielded a bunt attempt that was placed down the third base line by Segura. Keuchel raced over and calmly picked up the ball and fired it over like he was throwing a fastball from the mound. He just beat out the speedy Segura to end the inning.
In the 7th, Keuchel had more defense left in him. With Kyle Seager on first after he was hit by a pitch, Danny Valencia grounded a ball back to the Astros pitcher who quickly turned to Jose Altuve to start the double play.
The very next batter, Leonys Martin, attempted the same bunt single that Segura tried and with same outcome. Keuchel rushed over to pick up the ball bare-handed and fired the ball over to Yulieski Gurriel for the spectacular out.
This type of outing for Keuchel is something the M’s will hope they don’t see again, but, unfortunately for them, they may have to see him five more times in the five more series against the Astros.
King Dethroned Already?
King Felix is not necessarily being stripped of his title just yet. It is only game one after all, but, after he was forced to leave the game before the 6th with groin tightness, his future may be in jeopardy.
Exactly what the Mariners don’t need after learning that Drew Smyly will be out for two months just last week.
Aside from his injury, Felix also showed that he’s not in Cy Young form that he promised he would get back to this offseason. Hernandez gave up a no-doubter to George Springer, the first batter he faced in 2017 regular season ball.
Later in 4th, Correa outdid his teammate taking a ball literally out of the ballpark and near the apartments across the street. The positive fact about these home runs? They were both solo shots.
It was the first time that Hernandez had ever allowed more than one home run in any of his 10 Opening Day matches. He had allowed three total long bombs in the first game of the season before tonight’s game.
With Hernandez’s health possibly in question, M’s fans should hope that whenever he comes back to the mound, he tries to fulfill his promise of becoming as good as he’s ever been.
The Offense That Wasn’t
Last season there was no doubt that the Mariners were one of the best offense team’s in the game. The M’s had the third-most home runs with 223 and the sixth-most runs batted in with 735.
Tonight, however, was an example of an offense poised to be one of the worst opposed to being one of the best.
The team’s three hits tonight ties the Kansas City Royals for the fewest in the MLB so far. Therefore it is not surprising that their .103 batting average is the worst in baseball and their zero extra-base hits are also the worst in the league.
At least because of the four bases on balls drawn, the team jumped up a couple spots from the bottom of the table when it came to on-base percentage. They head into tomorrow’s game with a .235 OBP.
This is obviously not where the Mariners want to be for the rest of the season, so hopefully, the team can put the pieces together and fast.
Even though he couldn’t prove his value at the plate, Valencia showed M’s fans why it’s important to have athleticism at first.
Hernandez was trying to regroup after surrendering that big blast to Springer in the opening frame, but when he tried to throw to first base to check on Josh Reddick, he almost threw the ball away.
It forced Valencia to make an acrobatic leaping stab at the ball. It took him off the ball but he was able to keep it in his glove. He earned praise from the home and away broadcasters calling the game, so you know it must’ve been quite the grab.
This type of range and quickness at first is a welcomed sight after last year’s fairly unathletic platoon of Dae-ho Lee and Adam Lind last year. It is also part of the reason that Daniel Vogelbach is not playing at the first to open the year.
Tomorrow the Mariners will take on the Astros for game two. Hisashi Iwakuma will be taking the mound for the 5:10 PM PST game. The Mariners will be looking to bounce back after today’s lackluster outing.