After returning home from their emotional opening series in Japan, where Ichiro played his last game, the Mariners clobbered the defending champion Red Sox 12-4 in their home opener.
I remember going to this game with my brother, on a beautiful late March afternoon, not expecting the Mariners to beat the Red Sox. The M’s had just made a fire sale in the off-season where they dealt away James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jean Segura, along with letting Nelson Cruz go in free agency.
The expectation was 2019 would be a rebuilding year, with little for fans to be excited about. However, Opening Day in baseball can be full of surprises as I would soon find out.
Here’s what happened in the Mariners home opener in 2019
The Red Sox, picked up right where they left off following their 2018 World Series title. They got after Mariners’ starter Marco Gonzales early, with three of the first four hitters smacking singles off him, en route to a 1-0 lead. Red Sox starter Chris Sale then struck out the side in the bottom of 1st, and after the Red Sox added a sac-fly in top of the 2nd, I felt the rout was on.
Then, in the bottom of the 2nd something amazing happened, Tim Beckham crushed a solo home run, to make it 2-1. Then later that inning catcher David Freitas walked, followed by a Dee Strange-Gordon single, followed by Mitch Haniger being hit-by-pitch, which loaded the bases for Domingo Santana with two outs.
Santana smashed a double down the right-field line to drive in Freitas and Strange-Gordon, unfortunately, Haniger was tagged out at home. However, the Mariners had changed the game and would take a 3-2 lead into the 3rd inning.
Marco Gonzales would settle into a groove for the next three innings, as he would hold the Red Sox scoreless through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. Meanwhile, the M’s continued to punish Red Sox starter Chris Sale, who had given the Mariners fits over his career with a 2.65 ERA against them. Sale would give up two more home runs, as he gave up a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion, followed by another home run by Tim Beckham, this time a 2-run shot.
After David Freitas added a sac-fly, the Mariners would take a 7-2 lead after three innings. Sale’s day was over in just three innings of work. Ryon Healy added a solo home run in the 5th inning off Hector Velasquez, making it 8-2 Seattle.
The Mariners would pull Gonzales in the middle of the 6th inning after surrendering two doubles. He would with 5.1 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, and 4 SO. Seattle’s bullpen would give up just an RBI single to Andrew Benintendi, which was charged to Gonzales since the runner was inherited.
Roenis Elias, Cory Gearrin, and Brandon Brennan would keep the Red Sox off the scoreboard the rest of the way. Seattle would add four more runs, including a 2-run home run by Domingo Santana off Tyler Thornburg in the 7th, as the Mariners cruised to a 12-4 victory over the defending champs.
Although they had played twice in Japan, it felt like the start of the season. It would give them a major boost to start the year, and was likely a large part of the success that the team saw throughout the first half of 2019.