After years of submission to the Houston Astros in the American League West, the Seattle Mariners’ dominant 11-1 victory on Friday night in their home opener felt like a seismic shift in the hierarchy of the division.
Yes – it was just one game. Yes – 11 runs from this Mariners offense is going to be an anomaly. But for all the pain and suffering the team has received at the hands of the Astros, last night’s showing came across as, above all else, a statement that there is no more need to fear the blue and orange.
Veteran Mariners starter Marco Gonzales was shelled in his season debut against the Twins on Sunday, but in classic Marco fashion, he silenced the doubters with 7 innings of one-run ball in his return to the mound last night. He didn’t walk a single batter, struck out six, and located pitches with precision to stymie a Yordan Alvarez-less, but still solid, Astros lineup.
After a 1-2-3 first inning from Gonzales, the night was then owned by three fresh faces in Seattle this season: Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez. Frazier, by far, was the MVP of the evening; the former All-Star second baseman went 4-for-5 in the leadoff spot, driving in four RBIs, scoring two runs, and finishing with two singles, a double, and a triple.
Winker continued to show off his impeccable ability to produce quality at-bats in the 3-spot, walking twice (extending his Major League-leading walk total to 10), scoring Frazier on an RBI single in the 1st, and scoring himself in the 5th after a lead-off single. Suarez, acquired from the Reds this offseason in the same trade that brought over Winker, drove him in that inning, then did more damage with a two-run shot to right center in the 8th to put a cap on Seattle’s stellar evening.
The palpable energy in T-Mobile Park, the significant contributions of both new and existing Mariners players, and the continuous buzz around youngsters Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are factors that have seemed to finally push the Mariners into the spotlight as the favorites to knock the Astros off of their pedestal in the AL West; let’s see if it sticks on for the rest of the homestand.