The 2019 season is officially underway and the Seattle Mariners have a record that matters. There was a lot to digest on Opening Day, but here are 3 of our biggest takeaways from Opening Day.
But before we do, let’s dive into some mini takeaways. Maybe some bonus takeaways from the Mariners Opening Day 9-7 win.
The atmosphere in Japan was awesome. That nation loves baseball. Seeing Ichiro play was cool but did nothing to help the Mariners win or lose. The ball flies in the Tokyo Dome. But with all those out of the way, let’s dive into our Opening Day takeaways.
1. The Mariners Lineup is Good
Yes, it was one game against a mediocre starting pitcher in an offensive haven. But all those who thought the Mariners were going to be bad in 2019 might have gotten a friendly reminder: this lineup is riddled with quality, above-average Major League bats.
They showed an ability to play long ball, as evident by Domingo Santana‘s opposite-field grand slam and Tim Beckham‘s absolute crank shot to left-center field. We also learned that Beckham has 80-grade bat flips in his toolset.
But the team also showed an ability to play small ball when Dee Gordon dropped a sacrifice bunt which led to a Mitch Haniger sacrifice fly. The team also showed patience, forcing Oakland A’s starter to throw 58 pitches in 3 innings and reliever Liam Hendricks to throw 25 in his one inning of work.
The Mariners lineup isn’t the Yankees, Red Sox, or Astros lineup, but should be able to score enough runs to keep Seattle in most games.
2. Marco Gonzales Was… Good
Considering the natural jitters of Opening Day, the quality of the opponent, the atmosphere, and the added adrenaline, Marco Gonzales acquitted himself quite well. The final line won’t wow anybody; 6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 K’s, 1 BB, but he managed to work through some command issues and throw up 4 good to great innings.
The cutter and curveball looked solid throughout. The changeup flashed plus at times, but caught too much of the plate at times as well. It was a step forward after 2 horrible starts to wrap up Spring Training and was something to build on for the rest of 2019.
Gonzales threw a ton of strikes, 51, on just 69 pitches. The debate will surely be on for the next 24 hours as to whether or not Mariners manager Scott Servais was too quick to pull Gonzales, but at the end of the day, Marco’s first Opening Day start was solid.
3. The Bullpen is Suspect… But Got the Job Done
It wasn’t a pretty outing for Nick Rumbelow. That is undeniable. He looked rushed in his delivery and had little to no command of his slider. His outing was short, but not short enough, surrendering a 3-run home run after a walk and single, chalking up 3 ER while recording just 1 out.
Veteran righty Cory Gearrin came in an cleaned up the mess, throwing 1 inning of shutout ball before passing the ball to Zac Rosscup. Rosscup was tasked to get out Matt Olson but walked him on 5 pitches. He was able to get Jurickson Profar to ground out to SS on the next pitch, but a poor throw from Dee Gordon gave the A’s another opportunity.
Thankfully, Rosscup was able to get Marcus Semien to ground out, handing the ball to Hunter Strickland for the 9th with a 2 run lead to face 9-1-2 in the order. Not the easiest of landings to be sure.
Strickland proceeded to strike out Josh Phegley and get an out on a nice running catch by Jay Bruce in RF. Strickland got ahead of Chapman 1-2 and finished off Chapman with a nasty slider, securing the 9-7 win.
The bullpen will likely be an issue all season long. But for this game, the opener in Japan, it was good enough to hand your Seattle Mariners win #1 in the 2019 season. Overall, Opening Day was a fun ball game that saw a lot of offense and a little bit of pitching, all adding up to a nice win for Seattle.