Two years into a five-year, $64 million contract, Adrian Beltre has produced a .262 average, 44 home runs, and 176 RBIs. However, after the All Star break in 2006, Beltre slugged .552 with a whopping 18 home runs. Does this strong second half bode well for a turn-around in 2007, or will Mariners fans have to deal with 'A-Drain' once again? This blog intends to follow the 2007 season for Adrian Beltre, and the Seattle Mariners, and promises to hold no punches.

One-eighth of the season over...


And things are looking pretty good. Granted, the M's are on target to finish 81-81, which would be ten games off my pre-season prediction, but considering the Mariners' baby steps towards respectability the past few years it only makes sense that they would finish exactly at the promised land of respectability. Still, it's really inappropriate to make forecasts after only 20 games, but it should be pointed out that the M's had just finished their first month of April at .500 or better since 2003, the last year that the Mariners contended into the final games of the season.

Some interesting questions and trends concerning the M's first 20 games. As Yo Beltre pointed out, after the stops-and-starts of the Mariners' schedule due to nature interference preventing the M's bats to find a groove, various hitters have all turned things around. Jose Lopez may have been hitting .250 with a sub-.600 OPS just a little over a week ago, now the second baseman is hitting .323 with an .817 OPS. Jose Vidro had a putrid start to the season, batting .143 after the first seven games. He then ripped off a 12-game hitting streak which ended in last night's ballgame, raising his average 175 points. Kenji Johjima has been consistent, with a batting average that hasn't dropped below .300 since a three-hit day back on April 13th.

And even if the M's corner boppers have been struggling, they have been producing in their own way. Adrian Beltre has 15 RBIs, on pace to finish with 120- a far cry from last year's April in which he finished with a .189 average and 6 RBIs. And prior to last night's RBI single, much had been made about Richie Sexson's inability to not pick up extra bases on his base hits. Sure, it would be nice to see Richie pack that .145 average with singles, but it's also pretty nice that he carries a .606 OPS despite such a lousy average. Nobody needs to worry- the base hits will come.

What needs to be worried about, however, is the state of the M's pitching. It would be nice if the offseason acquisitions the M's picked up to round out the rotation would deliver the results they're getting paid to. Instead, after eleven combined starts between Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, and Miguel Batista, only one quality start has been delivered- a pathetic ratio that is far subpar what is expected from a major league starting rotation. And if that percentage is continued throughout the season, the M's chances of sniffing respectability become threatened.

The ugliness may come to a head, however, with Weaver shrugging off a pretenses that he is, indeed, a major league starter with his performance on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. Nobody must have informed Weaver that the game had, indeed, started as he continued to throw batting practice to the Royals batters for the next twenty minutes. All they did was tee off on his offerings, as Weaver ended up allowing six runs over one-third of an inning. With Jeff's staggering 18.26 ERA- the highest ERA ever by a Mariner pitcher with over ten innings- being so burdensome, it has the morale (and win streak) killing effect of ensuring that not only will the Mariners lose every fifth day, but that they'll be out of it before they even get a chance to bat.

To anyone who is a regular reader of this blog, you all know how much I despise Weaver. I had a case of the hives last winter, which I traced back to picking up the minute I read my first online rumor that Weaver was going to sign with the M's. As the rumors turned out to be true, I shuddered and grew deathly faint from illness, visions of Tony Pena Jr. soft line-drives knocking in two Royals filling my head. I may be hyperbolic, but with the capable job Cha Seung Baek has done filling in for Felix while he rests his elbow and stymies any inclination towards Tommy John surgery, I wonder if perhaps the M's could've saved $8 million for a more prudent investment, such as putting it into the coffers of the eventual amount they should offer Andruw Jones this coming offseason. Pitching was incredibly overpriced in this past off-season, and while its true that the two pitchers I had hoped the M's would pursue- Adam Eaton and Jason Schmidt- have both turned out to be duds, you have to wonder how Eaton's numbers would be pitching in the friendly confines of Safeco Field rather than the (not so) friendly confines of Citizens Bank Bandbox.

Besides, if the M's had resisted the urge to throw $8 million at such washed-up dreck as Jeff Weaver- who turned the lighting he caught in a bottle last October into a big payday at the Mariners' expense- they could've allowed Baek more time in the rotation, and given himself and opportunity to prove he belongs in a major league rotation. I could see Baek- if he was given the opportunity- being able to duplicate Horacio Ramirez's 2003 season (12-4, 4.00 ERA) that Ramirez himself. Now, after no-hitting the Royals through nearly six innings in last night's ballgame, hopefully Baek will get such a chance to prove himself. Hopefully, at Weaver's expense. Perhaps Weaver should spend some time pitching garbage-time mop-up duties. Down in AA San Antonio, of course. Just as long as he's far away from the Mariners' roster as possible.

Perhaps the best way to get an idea of just how damaging Weaver- the Eddie Guardado of 2007- has been for the M's this season, perhaps we should check out some visual aides. Sure, one can always look at box scores and stat lines, but over at the Lookout Landing blog, a Win Expectancy is created after the finish of each game, to show the moments the M's won or lsot each game, and who were the heroes and goats for each outcome. Check out the following Win Expectancies for games in which Weaver started:

Saturday, April 28th- the Weaver suckfest versus the Royals (The M's WE looks like an Enron stock ticker circa Janurary 2002)
Sunday April 22- three innings tossed versus the Angels
Tuesday, April 17- seven runs in six innings versus the Twins
Tuesday, April 10- the blowout by the Red Sox that started it all

In all four games, due to Weaver's putridness, the M's odds at winning had quickly flatlined. This results in lackluster play by the M's hitters as they'll quickly flick their bat at any opponent offering just to relieve themselves of being involved in such embarrassment, and complete disinterest from fans as televisions and radios are switched off in unison as Weaver's offerings have threatened to make them go blind or, as in my case, make them break out in hives.

But, despite all this. Despite Weaver's sub-A ball attempts at pitching. Despite the pretty tough schedule that awaited the M's first month of the season, playing against the Red Sox in Fenway, and four series versus division opponents. Despite the weather wreaking havoc on the M's past (and future) schedules. Despite all of this, the M's still finish the first month of 2007 with a .500 record, and hopefully that instills in them a well-deserved sense of confidence.

Sure, maybe the schedule doesn't let up that much, as the White Sox come to town for a quick two-game series. And then the Mariners travel to New York to play the Yankees, who I still think will turn things around and win their division when all is said and done. (But, hopefully, that won't happen until the M's-Yankees home-and-home series in May are finished. besides, we get Felix back to make his return start at Yankee Stadium. Joy!) Regardless of what awaits the Mariners on their schedule, all they can do is take each season one game, one month at a time. And as long as Jeff Weaver isn't on the mound, they just might surprise us!

M's back to .500


Well, the Seattle Mariners seem to be shrugging aside their woeful six game losing streak just fine, as they have now stretched their current streak to four wins. Coupled with losses by Anaheim and Oakland, the M's have suddenly found themselves half a game out of first. Wild wild west indeed. To continue the win streak, Seattle hitters will have to best former team mate and current KC ace Gil Meche tomorrow.

Tonights 7-4 victory was a great, all around win, and if not for an eighth inning three run homer by Ross Gload, would have been a dominating performance. Horacio Ramirez rebounded nicely from his last start, pitching into the seventh inning, and allowing only one run off seven hits, two walks, hitting a batter, and striking out four. He ended with 96 pitches, 58 going for strikes, efficient enough to run his record to 2-1. Reitsma relieved him and quickly finished the seventh, but ran into trouble in the eighth, culminating with the three run homer allowed to Gload. Putz then came in to record his second five out save in as many nights. Which, coupled with a four out save monday, would have to lead one to believe he might not be coming in tomorrow, no matter what the situation. Then again, he's definitley a horse. JJ was also involved in a scary moment after throwing a pitch and stepping off the mound, wincing and looking all too familiar to the situation we saw with Felix. However, after a quick visit from the training staff, JJ stayed out there, inducing an old fashioned 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

On the offensive side of the ball, scrappy second baseman Jose Lopez was the player of the game, going 3-4, with his third homer of the season, and scoring three runs. On Ichiro bobblehead night, Suzuki went 2-4. Fellow countryman Johjima added his second homer of the season, and our boy Beltre went 2-5 with three RBI's. He hit a two-run single following an intentional walk to Ichi, proving he's nobodys punk. Especially a Royal punk.

After a rough start for the M's bats this year, the casual fan would have to be pretty content with how our hitters have been coming around now, Ichiro=.315, Vidro=.316, Johjima=.347, Lopez=.310 Although Beltre is currently only hitting .247, he has been a great run producer out of the two hole, leading the club with 15 RBI's. Our 4-5-6 hitters, Ibanez, Sexson and Guillen (.239, .148, .233 respectively) will have to "come around" sooner or later, and when they do, it seems as though this team could have the ability to score alot of runs.

Oh yeah, and I called the two game mini sweep at Oakland, the proof is in my 4/4 post. But of course, a tuna could have predicted that sweep.

Washburn shuts out the A's


We needed this.

With Felix on the DL missing two starts (though throwing pain-free on the side, thankfully enough); the 3 thru 5 starters turning out to be nothing but meatballs serving up, well, meatballs; six postponements due to weather interrupting three road series (retractable roofs- look into 'em); not to mention the ineptitude exhibited at the hands of the Oakland Athletics, including a ten-game losing streak at McAfee Coliseum, for Jarrod to step up and pitch the way he did in last night's ballgame was huge. Against Joe "Freaking" Blanton, no less, who Jarrod came out on top over in a pitcher's duel. In a start that featured complete games offered by both starting pitchers, Washburn tossed 104 pitches, 72 of which went for strikes, and allowed only three hits. Blanton was just as typically dominating, throwing 105 pitches- 71 went for strikes- but only two were needed to insure he'd come out on the losing end of this match-up. Those were the two seats deposited into the stands by Jose Guillen and Kenji Johjima, the only hits needed to win the ballgame.

So, again, hats off Jarrod! And don't look now, but the Mariners have been able to string together a couple of wins back-to-back!

Will the M's be able to continue the winning in this afternoon's ballgame, even possibly- gasp!- sweep a two-game series in Oakland? It's definitely possible. They're facing Joe Kennedy for the A's who, prior to last night's loss taken by Blanton, was the last Oakland starter beat by the Mariners in Oakland- way back in 2005. Still, Kennedy holds a career 1.77 ERA versus the M's in eleven appearances- only four of which have been starts. And despite his 0-2 record on the year, three of his four starts have gone at least five innings and only given up one earned run, which exhibits a lack of offensive support from the A's bats. Though some Mariners have enjoyed success against Kennedy (Vidro with two home runs in six at-bats; Sexson with a 1.045 OPS in 11 at-bats; Ichiro batting .313 in 16 at-bats) the one Mariner batter who's struggled against Kennedy is Adrian Beltre, who's only picked up one hit (a home run) in fourteen career at-bats versus the left-hander.

The Mariners are entrusting their fledgling winning streak to Miguel Batista, who I don't need to remind anybody was absolutely horrible in his last start, allowing six hits and ten runs over six innings. However, he had a similar start in his first outing (against the A's), and followed that with a start in which he allowed three runs in six innings. So let's see if Batista can bounce back from last week's start versus the Angels. Unfortunately, Batista's career record versus the A's (2-3 record wit ha 6.62 ERA) doesn't bode well for any potential dominance in today's game. Though Batista may only have allowed two home runs in his career to the A's (neither of both players currently play for Oakland) and the one current Athletic who has given him the most trouble, Mark Kotsay, is on the DL, he has been given trouble by such pesky hitters as Jason Kendall (hitting .360 in 25 at-bats), Mike Piazza (.292 in 24 at-bats), and Eric Chavez (.417 in 12 at-bats). Look for those same players to give Batista a hard time again this afternoon.

My feelings towards a potential sweep aren't very optimistic with Batista on the mound. My prediction on the final score: 6-3, Athletics.

Splitting Hairs


Watching the game, it sure looked like Cruz kicked the ball around in right field, allowing Ichi to take the extra base, but hey, I'm not an official scorer. No less, it was a great momentum pick up from our catalyst.

The performance by Morrow, who had taken some lumps so far, was thrilling, and makes me wonder how long until he gets a shot at replacing one of our weak starters.

Tonight, the M's get Joe "freakin" Blanton, who they finally took an L to in the opening series, so we'll keep our collective fingers crossed that they can continue to keep this guy from absolutely dominating them as he has in the past.

And the streak is snapped


Actually, it was a bases-clearing triple from Ichiro, who ended up a home run away from the cycle, that fueled the M's big inning, not a double. But that's splitting hairs. The Mariners won the ballgame, 5-4, and that's the only thing that matters.

Unlike Yo Adrian, I've had a positive impression of Cha Seung Baek, and thought he was a more than capable (not to mention cheap!) candidate to fill the fifth starter spot in the rotation. Perhaps the only silver lining of Felix being shelved for two weeks is that Baek gets a chance to join the rotation and show, yes, his offerings couldn't possibly be worse than what's being offered up by Miguel Batista or Jeff Weaver. Given his career dominance over the Rangers going into the game (3-0- half of his career six victories- and 0.83 ERA) Baek's first start of 2007 got off promising enough, limiting the Rangers to one hit through three innings. Ultimately, however, Baek's middling stuff only got him two outs into the fifth inning, and ten base-runners later, left with the score tied 4-4.

Leaving the game early left the door open for Brandon Morrow who, after striking out Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, was able to pick up his first career victory when Raul Ibanez knocked in Beltre with the go-ahead ground-out in the top of the following. The young fireballing dominated the rest of the way, allowing just one hit- an eighth-inning single by Ian Kinsler- to pick up his first career major league victory, which was rewarded by a shaving cream pie in the face!

Way to go Brandon "Tom" Morrow!

The first game of a short two game set in Arlington is not even half way over yet, so this post could become quickly irellevant, but Ichiro just hit a bases clearing double, and I was inspired to jump on and add a few cents worth of ideas.

Slicky pretty much summed up my thoughts on the Anaheim series, and Weaver, and Hargrove. The series put me in to quite a funk by the end of the weekend.

Weaver needs to go now, don't try to let him get it figured out, because all that will happen is he'll have a decent start, then he'll be given more oppurtunities, most of which he'll pitch like his usual self in. Maybe Baek is our man? He's never really looked that impressive to me, but he has this thing where he keeps our team in the game for longer than a couple innings. I really like that. Plus he's 3-0 against Texas coming into tonights game...of course, as I said, it's not nearly over...

And as soon as I wrote that, Blalock delivers a two run shot into the right field seats. Damn I hate when they play the theme from The Natural down there. 4-2 M's, better sign off before much more happens.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Mariners lost the last game of a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Angels 6-1 this afternoon.

Is it too late to change my preseason predictions, or to wipe them from cyberspace? Sigh...

Look, it's not as if we knew the team was toast with Jeff Weaver taking the mound to stave off a three-game sweep. We knew that wasn't going to happen. Instead, what I'd prefer to address is the lackluster spirit manager Mike Hargrove brings to the team, and how his history of ineptitude raises questions about whether he's the right fit to manage the Mariners- or indeed any major league ballclub.

Hargrove has an inflated resume due to the success of the Cleveland Indians of the 1990s, a success brought about by the front office long-term planning by general manager John Hart and owner Richard Jacobs. Largely stocked with such home-grown talent as Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Charles Nagy, as well as assisted with a new revenue stream due to a consistently sold-out home stadium, the Cleveland Indians were one of baseball's greatest success stories of the 1990s. Mike Hargrove was a beneficiary of this success, and somehow his ability to watch from the dugout as the on-field product dominated opponents became confused with "genius" and "leadership skills." Shockingly, this managerial leadership and genius resulted in the playoff success of absolutely nothing, and despite five consecutive first-place finishes but always coming up short, Hargrove was sent packing.

Mike brought his successfully padded resume to Baltimore where its promises of good fortune convinced Orioles owner Peter Angelos to reward Mike with a multi-year contract. Mike responded with four years of managerial incompetence, somehow avoiding the in-season firings that befell managers that have fared even better. Under his watch, the Orioles committed two collapses of historical proportions, a 10-27 finish of the last month of the 2001 season, and a 6-32 limp towards the end of the 2002 season, which still didn't prevent Hargrove from returning in 2003. (These horrendous finishes did, however, bring forth the initial "fire Mike Hargrove" on-line petition, a sentiment that has since been shared by fans on the opposite coast.) After one final 71-91 record and fourth-place finish, Hargrove was relieved of managerial duty of a once-proud franchise struggling to regain respectability, as the Orioles front office realized respectability will never occur with Hargrove at the helm.

Unfortunately, to the relief of absolutely none of the Mariners fans in the Pacific Northwest, Hargrove's reward for treading water in the American League East for four years was to be handed the reigns of the Seattle Mariners, who in his first season as manager in 2005, were only four years removed from the historic 116-win season of 2001. Under his "guidance" the M's promptly lost 93 games and finished in fourth place, and followed that season with a ten-game improvement but another fourth-place finish last season. The fact reamins that, as it stands, Hargrove has more consecutive fourth-place finishes (with the AL West resulting in last place finishes for the M's) then he did first-place finishes during his heyday with the Cleveland Indians. I'm sure Hargrove has been standing in the dugout during the debacle of last week's consecutive three-game sweeps, thinking to himself "But Belle, Lofton & Co. made it look so easy! Where's Carlos Baerga when you need him?"

It might seem alarmist to be dogging on Hargrove all ready after only fourteen games, but it should be stated that Hargrove should not even have be allowed to return to crush the hopes of Mariners fans for another season. There was animated discussion over at at the end of last season, and the managers of that website were very confident that Hargrove wouldn't return. When I suggested that the front office was so out of touch that they would have Hargrove return to finish out his contract, and was criticized for making such suggestions, I warned that I hoped they weren't over-inflating my sense of optimism. Sadly, I proved to be correct, and I take no pride in that. One can only hope that rather than tantalize Mariners fans with a good three-quarter season before collapsing over the last quarter, the 5-9 start can be a sign that this year's version of the Mariners will suffer from a whole season of Hargrovitis...

The fact is plan and simple: Hargrove is not a good manager for this team. He is the complete opposite of Lou Pinella, and I don't mean just temperment-wise. He is absolutely clueless of how to manage the Mariners. Hargrove seems determined to rely on the big bats of Beltre and Sexson to generate the runs necessary to support a below league-average pitching staff. While that style may have worked for a line-up anchored by Albert Belle in Jacobs Field, the Mariners play half of their games at Safeco Field, the second hardest stadium to score runs in besides PETCO Park in San Diego. The M's line-up is anchored by their lead-off batter, Ichiro Suzuki, but rather than build an offense that revolves around getting on-base and running wild, throwing the other teams' pitchers off rhythm, the M's under Hargrove are entranced too much by the prospect of the three-run home-run. That is not the game they should be playing. Instead, the speedy game the Mariners should be playing has resulted in all of one stolen base (out of four attempts) so far this season.

Consider this past week. In three different games, Mariners batters hit two three-run home runs and a grand slam in the late innings of ballgames, none of which either tied the game or put them in the lead. So much for relying on the three-run home-run. Admittedly, Hargrove can't be blamed for the fact that the games are out of reach by Mariners bats at that point. That's more at fault of the M's front office for throwing money at washed-up dreck to build a pitching rotation (perhaps the most important piece of a competitive team) around.

So then why rail on Hargrove for the hopes of the big bomb that will get his team to sniff closer at games that would otherwise have the Mariners blown out? Although he can have no control over his starting pitchers' skill set, he is responsible for the team's strategy. And at times his strategy is jaw-droppingly inane. Let's take last Tuesday's loss to the Twins. In the top of the eighth inning with two outs, two runners on, and two runs all ready in, Hargrove had the infielders move in for a play at the plate. The next batter, Michael Cuddyer, promptly lined a single right at the spot in shallow center field where second baseman Jose Lopez normally would be, but wasn't, because of the decision to focus on a play at the plate. The score at the time? 9-2. The two runners knocked in by Cuddyer completed the scoring in an 11-2 Twins victory.

Why move in for a play at the plate when you're losing by seven runs? If it's a 2-1 nail biter, I understand. But when you're getting creamed, does playing for a run even matter? Not only does it make no sense, but it could backfire, as it did, and make the bleeding worse...

Or consider today's ballgame. Yes, the Angels jumped out to another early lead, 3-0, after three innings. Yes, Jeff Weaver was his typical lousy self, giving up seven hits and throwing 68 pitches. But why did Hargrove have such a quick hook with Weaver? He really couldn't have expected more than what he got from Weaver after three innings, could he? I mean, in Saturday's game Hargrove was patient enough to permit Horacio Ramirez walk six Angels over four innings, allowing the Angels to become very patient and wait for the better pitches to hit. Which they did. In spades. But with his flip-flop in strategy today, Hargrove puts a good amount of pressure on the Mariners' bullpen, just before they head to a two-game series against the Rangers in Arlington, where a sufficently rested bullpen is going to be all but necessary.

Sigh. Hargrove is completely clueless when it comes to managing the Mariners....

If you're looking for any moral victories, Adrian Beltre hit his third home-run of the season to help the team avoid a shutout. A year ago to this date, Beltre was still homerless, and the M's were getting shut-out for the third time. Today's home-run kept the number of shutouts tossed against the M's so far at one- Rich Harden's dominant performance in the third game.

At least the M's are scoring runs in their string of losses. They got that going for them....

Man I miss Felix


Great, just great. As if Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez have been as easy to figure out for the Angels' batters as a single-hued Rubik's cube, today Jeff Weaver gets a chance to embarrass him in front of his former ballclub. In his two starts this season, the opposing teams averaged an output of 12.5 runs, so double digits in runs for the Angels is all but assured. Although Weaver does have a career 2.78 ERA versus the Angles in 74 innings, I'm not holding my breath.

Angels starter Ervin Santana has had a rough start to the season as well, with a 1-2 record and 7.63 ERA. Normally, I'd say that presents a great opportunity for the M's offense to put some runs on the board, considering Santana's career 6.56 ERA versus the M's. But as Santana's matched up against Weaver, this just may be his opportunity to pitch his first quality start of the season as the Mariners' hitters will be too exhausted chasing around the bullets off the bats of the Angels' batters to mount much of a challenge against Santana.

Undoubtedly, it was a thrill to watch Ben Broussard hit the first pinch-hit grand slam in Mariners history during the eighth inning. But the Mariners have got to a better job of scoring runs earlier in the ballgame! Ichiro can't lead every game off with a home-run, and when he leads off with a double, the M's batters have got to knock him in, and not just settle for "moving him over" so he can be left on third at the end of the inning.

Final score of today's game; 11-3, Angels.

And the losing continues


Well, one team had to lose. Unfortunately it was the Mariners, who dropped the opening game of the three-game series to the Los Angeles Angels, 8-4.

Two things did in the Mariners in last night's ballgame: bad luck with runners on base, and the "pitching" of Miguel Batista. The M's were able to put runners on against Angels starter Joe Saunders, but were unable to do anything afterwards. Saunders, the only pitcher in major league baseball who is an alum from Virginia Tech, had a gritty performance in last night's game to honor the shootings of last week's tragedy in his own special way. Regardless, a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Vladimir Guerrero helped him out as well. In both the second and third innings, hard-hit line drives were caught, leading to doubling Mariner runners off base and snuffing any potential offensive threats. Belter himself snuffed out the potential for putting up any runs in the first inning when after a one-out single, he got thrown out attempting to steal second for the final out of the inning with Raul Ibanez at the plate. Vlad did his thing at the plate, contributing a 3-for-5 day with two runs and a solo home run in his first game after being hit by a Josh Beckett pitch on Monday. If only he could've stayed in the dugout for a few more games...

Meanwhile, Miguel Batista was doing his darnedest to ensure the game was officially out of reach at the earliest possibility. Batista's final line read 10 hits and six runs over six innings, and it appeared that Batista's offerings to the Angels' line-up was as tough to figure out as Scooby-Doo mystery. The break-down of the six runs allowed by Batista is the following: four runs given up with two outs and no runners on, the other two from solo home-runs leading off the inning. After six innings, the Angels had scored the same amount of runs (six) as they had in their preceding six games. What other type of results is expected when you sign such obvious dreck as Miguel Batista to an off-season free-agent contract?

The loss of Felix Hernandez glaringly reveals the ineptitude of the Mariners' rotation. With Jarrod Washburn now as the team's "ace" any earlier optimism I had for the team is all but vanished. I stated that the hopes of this team lies directly on the fortunes of Felix. And without The King taking the mound every fifth day, the chance to nip any potential losing streaks in the bud become doubtful, which explains, in part, the four-game dive the M's currently find themselves.

The Mariners face Bartolo Colon in tonight's game, the first start of the season for the Angels' big man who is returning from the DL after rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder. Even if Colon isn't %100 in tonights' game, little would it matter as Bartolo has a history of dominating the M's ,with a career 10-8 record in 22 career starts, including a four-hit 4-0 shut-out over the M's last July 5. Beltre, however, has enjoyed success against Colon- in 26 career at-bats, Beltre has hit .308 with three home-runs, for a slugging percentage of .731. Ichiro Suzuki, with three home runs in 44 at-bats, and Raul Ibanez, hitting .350 in 40 at-bats, have also enjoyed success against Colon, so there is a potential for some offensive fireworks against the big man in today's game, though I find it doubtful as in the Mariners' recent history, whenever the team hits rut they seem to get stuck in it for a long stretch of games.

On the other hand, Horacio Ramirez takes the mound for the Mariners, and M's fans can keep their fingers crossed that his outing may be a combination of his most recent outing versus the Rangers (one earned run allowed in six innings) with his only career start versus the Angels (two earned runs allowed in eight innings). Ramirez has had good success in nullifying the bat of Orlando Cabrera, who has only three hits in eighteen at-bats, but the two hits that Vladimir Guerrero has against Ramirez are home runs, accounting for the two runs scored against him by the Angels.

Its tempting to give the nod in the pitching match-up to the Mariners. In his first start from an extended absence of pitching in the major leagues, Bartolo Colon may be rusty, allowing some of his pitches to get away from him or exhibiting poor command of the strike zone. However, as I stated in my prediction of yesterday's ball game regarding the Angels, the M's have to break off their doldrums before I can confidently pick them to come out on top. So in tonight's game, I pick the Angels to succeed, 7-2.

Twins series re-cap


Undoubtedly, it sucks to have the M's drop from two games above .500 to one game below, but that's what the first sweep in over a decade at home against the Twins will do. Of course, who didn't know that a sweep by Minnesota was all but guaranteed the moment Felix took himself out of the game Wedensday evening? On the flip side, Felix's strained elbow will only require him to miss up to 20 games- or four starts- rather than forcing him to missing the entire season due to the dreaded Tommy John surgery. After getting smoked out in three straight games, you'll take any good news as you can get it. The bad news is somebody will have to replace Felix in the rotation. So far Hargrove has been mum on who that individual will be. He might as well just say "Nobody's replacing Felix, because nobody can. That won't prevent us from having five starters, however."

The last two games had some memorable moments, to be sure. Besides Felix leaving Safeco Field in shock and horror in the first inning of the second game, there was also some late-inning three-run bombs by Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez in both games to get the M's within sniffing distance, as well as Beltre getting thrown out at home for the final out in Wednesday's game. While it's hard to fault the guy for showing any kind of aggressiveness or determination to win, or at least tie, the game perhaps if he hadn't committed to such a weak slide any had convinced himself to actually take Redmond out then the game could've gone into extra innings. Sigh...

I'd do a more in-depth re-cap of yesterday's game, but why bother? The M's faced Johann, Johann dominated by allowing five base-runners in seven innings, Johann won, pushing his career won-loss record against the M's to 8-1. No real new story here.

The Mariners get a chance to right their ship by facing the Angels for a weekend series. The Angels have been in a free-fall, with my pick to win the division having lost six in a row and eight of their last ten. It's quite clear that the Angels miss their catalyst, lead-off man who's absence coupled with the absence of Juan Rivera has reduced the Angels' offense to nothing. They have averaged 1.9 runs over those last ten games, getting shut-out twice in the process.

Miguel Batista and his career 2-2 record and 6.17 ERA versus the Angels is the first M's starter to hopefully find success versus the woeful Angels. Orlando Cabrera and Vladimir Guerrero have combined to hit .432 off Batista in 32 combined at-bats, with a .656 slugging percentage. On the other hand, Batista has held Gary Matthews Jr.- who's been the Angels' catalyst at the beginning of the season in Figgins' stead- to one hit in nine at-bats. Let's hope that Batista can duplicate his last start versus Texas, and throw six innings of three-run ball.

Joe Saunders takes the hill for the Angels, the other rookie phenom for Los Angeles last season- the one without the last name Weaver. Though Saunders may have finished the year with a 7-3 record, in his only start against the Mariners he allowed six runs in two innings, with both Ibanez and Sexson touching young Saunders for home runs.

I can't say confidently that the M's will rough up Saunders again, but I feel that they will continue to Angels losing slide. You have to pick against the Angels until they do, indeed, get out of their funk. FInal score: 5-4, M's.

G*ddamn I hate Jeff Weaver


So, at what point did the Mariners lose this game? Was it when Michael Cuddyer tripled in the first inning, knocking in Joe Mauer with the Twins' second run of the opening frame? Or was it when Torii Hunter reached out and knocked a 78 mph slider from Jeff Weaver over the wall in the fifth for his seventh career grand slam. I'm going to assert that the game was lost the moment that Weaver took his first step on the field.

Weaver's presence on the mound gives me absolutely no confidence that the Mariners have a chance to win any game he starts. Little wonder, considering the two games he's started the Mariners have dropped both by a combined score of 25-5. Yeesh.

At one point- like in 2001- yesterday's pitching match-up of Jeff Weaver and Ramon Ortiz would have been a duel of young, promising hurlers. Now its a battle of two washed up fringe veterans, filling slots in the back end of their respected teams' rotation. But it's hard to take anything away from Ortiz's start- he did only allow two runs in seven innings. And Ortiz was very efficient as well, not giving up a single walk or recording a single strikeout. On the other hand, although Weaver allow seven runs in six innings, he did cut his season ERA in half, from 31.50 to 15.75. So, I guess that's a small success....

Sigh. At any rate, all it does for the Mariners is ensure that they will only win one game in the series versus the Twins, as Felix takes the hill for them in today's game, before they face Johann Santana tomorrow. As has been noted, Felix has yet to give up an earned run 17 innings this year, and for his career has allowed only six earned runs in 30 career innings versus the Twins. Of course as no Mariner pitcher has had success in getting him out, Joe Mauer has had success facing Felix, picking up six hits in 11 at-bats for a .545 average and 1.615 OPS. If Felix decides to walk Mauer every time he faces him in today's game, it would be understandable as it takes the biggest Mariner-killing bat the Twins have out of the line-up.

The Twins counter on the mound with Carlos Silva, who despite his 0-1 record has been off to a great start himself this season. Silva has allowed just one earned run in nearly twelve innings for an 0.77 ERA so far. And in his career, Silva has a 3-1 record versus the M's, with a 2.41 ERA in 41 innings. Ben Broussard enjoys the greatest success against Carlos, hitting .308 with a .987 OPS in 28 at-bats versus Silva. So of course instead of having him start at DH, Mike Hargrove will probably keep Broussard on the bench, where he'll have the minimum amount of opportunities to inflict damage.

Today's game has the makings of a pitcher's duel, one that I feel confident the M's will come out on top with a score along the lines of 3-1.

Viva Vidro!!


Holy offensive explosion, batman!

Coming into this afternoons game, seven of Seattle's regular starting nine were hitting 50 points below their career averages. You knew something had to give, and why not in time to take the last two games of a three game set vs division rival Texas? The Rangers have all the pieces for a good home series win: a quad A pitching staff (with apologies to Millwood, Otsuka and Gagne, you guys just aren't enough), underachieving defense, and vaunted sluggers who never seem to get rolling outside Arlington (except this new guy, what's his name, Kiner?).

Today's 14-6 victory especially benefited the top third of the Mariners batting order, as Ichiro, Beltre and Vidro combined for nine hits in fourteen at bats, scoring nine times, and driving in ten. Ichiro's 4-5 performance raised his batting average 98 points, to .290. He also attempted Seattle's first stolen base of the season (the last MLB team this season to attempt a steal), succeding for his personal 40th consecutive attempt.

Jose Vidro hit a solo homerun in the first inning, and added a three run shot in the second. His first multi home run game since 2003, when Quebec was still a part of baseball.

Hopefully Ichiro's annual early-season struggle is behind him now, he's such a great catalyst, 21 of his 62 career homers have come leading off.

Not only two games above .500 and in first, but 4-2 against the West. What's that you say? No road games vs. divisional opponents yet? Our only road trip so far being weather shortened? Oh well, if nine of their eleven first games at home is what it takes to get our boys rolling, we'll take it. We'll see how it goes on get-away-day Thursday vs. Johan Santana.

Says Meche in response: "Oh no you didn'!"

No need to rehash how Meche spurned the Blue Jays' advances or how Toronto
general manager J.P. Ricciardi said a few days later that it might have
meant Meche had no stomach for the hurly-burly of the American League

The Blue Jays might have "dodged a bullet," Ricciardi said back
then. "When you're talking to a guy about coming to a place that's very
close to winning, and he's telling you how important it is to him — and then
he chooses a place like [Kansas City], that might have been an eye-opener
for us. We're trying to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, so we need
guys who want to compete against those guys."

Somehow owning Felix Hernandez in my head-to-head Yahoo! fantasy baseball league isn't preventing my team from struggling mightily in the early goings on, but the following player note caught my eye:
According to The Seattle Times' Larry Stone, over 17 innings this season,
Seattle Mariners SP Felix Hernandez has given up just four hits in 53 at-bats,
an .075 average by opponents. The last time a pitcher threw that many innings
while holding his opponents to such a low batting average in his first two
starts of the season was in 1970, when New York Mets SP Nolan Ryan (three hits in 51 at-bats) and Baltimore Orioles SP Tom Phoebus (four hits in 53 at-bats)
accomplished it.

Is Nolan Ryan the career path we can expect from the King?

M's split first two versus Rangers


After dropping Friday night's game 5-2 versus the Rangers, it was nice to see the M's rebound to come out on top of Saturday's game, 8-3.

I have to admit, after seeing the results of Friday's game and knowing that the Mariners were unable to find a victory with Jarrod Washburn on the mound, I had very little confidence that either Miguel Batista or Horacio Ramirez would be able to stave off a sweep. But Batista had other things in mind after a 10-day lay-off, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing just three runs. A far cry from his ten-hit, eight-run performance in his miserable outing against the A's.

It's also nice to see the Mariners start hitting the ball... kinda. Coming into the series, the M's team batting average was an anemic .187 after five games. After picking up eleven hits on Friday (seven singles) and eight more on Saturday, that average has been raised all the way up to .214, with a team OPS of .609. It's kind of sad when at the end of today's game, the highest average in the box scoreat day's end for the Mariners is Jose Lopez's .261, who also has a matching on-base percentage and slugging percentage as well. And the M's really need to take advantage of their opportunities- in the first two games they left 34 runners on base. It's hard to win games when you're leaving an average of two runners on base per inning...

Still, Beltre has picked up three hits and knocked in four runs over the first two games of the series, including his first home run of the season in Saturday's game. Not like last year when the first month of the season had passed before Beltre knocked his first one out of the park. Hopefully this is when Beltre taps into whatever it was that fueled his second half last season and begins to go on an offensive tear, with the rest of the line-up following suit.

The pitching match-up for the rubber game pits Brandon McCarthy- who is looking to prove that the White Sox made a mistake and he is worth his former prospect status, dammit- versus Horacio Ramirez, who is not only looking for results in his first "official" start of the season, but also to convince the Mariners' front office (and fans) that they got a good return for shipping Rafael Soriano to bolster the Braves' bullpen in Atlanta. Although this will be his first start against the Mariners in his career, he hasn't had much success facing the M's in relief. This includes a memorable outing with the White Sox versus Seattle last April 24th, when coming into the 11th inning of a 3-3 ballgame, Brandon gave up the go-ahead run after a two-out intentional walk to Jeremy Reed. Is that the type of outing that will haunt Brandon at Safeco Field?

Horacio Ramirez has never faced Texas, and he hasn't pitched in over a week as well, so it reamins to be said whether he'll be rusty and those six walks he tossed against Cleveland a week ago weren't jsut due to the weather, or if the extended rest will do him good, Miguel Batista-style.

I'm feeling confident that the Mariners will pull this series out of an otherwise gloomy beginning. I think the M's have Brandon McCarthy's number, and I'm saying the final score will be 5-3, Seattle.

The M's get rained out and *finally* return home


Not sure if I'm a big fan of this unbalanced schedule or not. Sure it's always fun watching the A's beat up the M's over 20 games and win the title, but then you have to contend with the difficulties that the M's dealt with over the past week. Their only trip to Cleveland was snowed out, thus causing all sorts of scheduling headaches for later on in the season. And then yesterday's finale in Boston was rained out, killing any potential momentum created by Felix's one-hitter the day before. The game is re-scheduled for May 3.

So the M's 2007 season so far has been one of starts and stops, with the team being unable to get into any groove. This might explain why after five games, the team is sporting an anemic .187 batting average and a scoffable .303 slugging percentage. Indeed Kenji Johjima is leading the team in average- hitting a whopping .286!

The M's get a chance to improve their numbers at home as they face the live arms of the Texas Rangers for a home series. After their adventures on the road- working in all of two games over the past week- the friendly confines of Safeco Field should be welcoming indeed. Of course, the Rangers have played the Mariners tough- winning 11 of 19 games between the two teams last season- and have won two of three in their last two series.

After having his start pushed back a day, Jarrod Washburn takes the hill for his second start of the season. Washburn sports a 7-6 career record and 4.12 ERA in 129 innings against Texas, with a 3.52 ERA against the Rangers last season. However, the trio of Hank Blalock, Mark Teixiera, and Michael Young have combined to hit .300 with a .491 slugging against Washburn in 110 at-bats.

The M's get to face the Rangers' ace, Kevin Millwood, who sports a 5-3 record and 3.65 ERA in nine career starts. However, the trio of Adrian Beltre, Jose Vidro, and Richie Sexson have a history of roughing up Millwood from the national League, combining to touch Kevin for a .314 average and .533 slugging in 137 at-bats.

It's looking like tonight will be a close game, with whatever team committing the fewest errors coming out on top, probably with a score along the lines of 7-6 or something similar....

In case you were wondering...


Thanks to, the last time a one-hitter was tossed versus the Red Sox was on June 20 in their championship year of 2004. Jason Schmidt of the Giants was the last one to do the deed. Though by throwing 111 pitches and at the Red Sox' home turf at Fenway, Felix's was a bit more of a dominating performance.

Now that my prediction of a sweep is averted, today's game turns out to be the rubber game of the series. Jarrod Washburn takes the hill for the M's, holding a 3-3 record and 4.66 ERA in ten career starts versus the Red Sox. Of the current Red Sox batters, Coco Crisp has drive Jarrod cuckoo, picking up ten hits in eighteen career at-bats versus Washburn. The Red Sox counter with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has struggled in his career versus the M's, with a 3-8 record and 4.37 lifetime ERA. However, none of the current Mariners have enjoyed success against the 40-year old veteran, except perhaps Raul Ibanez, who enjoys a .939 career OPS versus Wakefield in 22 at-bats.

Still, could it be possible that the M's just might take two games of this series?



What a turn-around from the game yesterday afternoon.

It had everything Tuesday's 14-3 drubbing lacked; timely hitting, great defense, and Felix Hernandez.

The media swarm was focused on the Red Sox new multi-million dollar Japanese pitching sensation, Daisake Matsuzaka, making his first start at Fenway Park, and his immediate battle with by far the most successful Japanese MLB hitter ever, Ichiro. This allowed Hernandez to "fly under the radar" as he quickly continued his assault on American League hitters.

Felix took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, when JD Drew led off with a solid shot back up the middle for what would end up being Boston's only hit. Hernandez walked two batters and struck out six en route to completing the shutout. He is now 2-0 in two career appearances vs. Boston, giving up only 2 earned runs, 4 walks, and 5 hits in 16 innings. Lets hope this is a trend that continue, as well as the trend v. the A' gee, why can't he just pitch everyday? He's young, he could handle it...

Not to be completely forgotten, Dice K pitched pretty well too, but not good enough to stand up to the competition. It might have been nerves, or at least the M's proving they're not quite as bad as Kansas City.

I blame Felix losing the no-hitter on Joel Pineiro really. He came in in the top of the eigth and proceeded to throw like an armless, blind drunkard, as he usually does, this slowed the pace of the game down so much compared to the first seven innings. I was listening on the radio at work, and was noticing how slow it was suddenly going, this waste of time by Joel knocked Felix out of his rythm, allowing Drew to take advantage by hacking at the first pitch he saw leading off the 8th.

damn you pineiro

he'll be one of those players that haunt us somehow for years to come...



Yeah, yesterday's game was pretty ugly. The only good thing about it is that it's now over, and we can put it behind us.

As it was a mid-day game- and it had no television coverage, to the relief of Pacific Northwest citizens- I followed it at work. And my stomach churned as I watched the results of the bottom half of the Red Sox' first inning:
- J. Lugo walked
- K. Youkilis singled to right, J. Lugo to second
- D. Ortiz singled to right, J. Lugo to third, K. Youkilis to second

I wonder if this was Jeff Weaver's game plan, a sort of reverse psychology being played on the Red Sox. Most teams would want the bases loaded with no outs and their clean-up batter at the plate. Perhaps Weaver was just daring Manny to do what Manny, will, did, namely knock in a run with an single. Perhaps Weaver was daring Manny to knock a grand slam. In which case, the reverse psychology worked...

Hopefully, the Mariners get a mulligan on this game. It had been five days since they had played ball, and Weaver hadn't thrown a competitive pitch in over a week. Still, it's not assuring that the M's have dropped their last two games by a combined score of 23-3. Even in football terms, that's pretty brutal.

The pitching match-up sounds entertaining, and should prevent either team for reaching double digits. It's King Felix versus Dice K, with a contest of superior Japanese blood-types on the line. Felix has won his only career start versus Boston, allowing six base-runners and two runs in seven innings. Daisuke, of course, will be making his first career start against the Mariners, and regardless of whether his mythical "gyroball" exists or not, I'm pretty sure Dice-K will be making mincemeat out of the Mariners' bats.

In fact, I'm pretty sure a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox will occur, as the Mariners bats, pitching, and fielding will need a few days to get back on track. Unfortunately, this will cost them a few games in the standings...

Boston series


Not really looking forward to the Boston series, due to the unprecedented layoff and the fact that, well, they're Boston. On the other hand, the Red Sox did lose two of three in their most recent series versus the Rangers- and weren't they bested by Gil Meche on Opening Day?

Josh Beckett hasn't been particularly dominant versus the M's, giving up 18 baserunners in 14 career innings. Of course, he'll be more on top of his game than the M's, who have spent the last four days making snow angels in Jacobs Field. The Mariners should definitely start Ben Broussard in today's game- in two career at-bats, he has two career home runs off Beckett.

Of course, the Red Sox are probably licking their chops to face Jeff Weaver, who has a career 6.07 ERA against Boston in 73 career innings. The worst offenders are, to nobody's surprise, David Ortiz and Manny Ramriez, who combined for an OPS over 1.000 in 42 at-bats, with 5 home runs and 10 RBIs.

Keep your fingers crossed, but don't expect too much from today's game...



A four game set canceled by snow.



How will these teams respond to the unexpected delay in their early seasons?

It seems that players generally cruise through spring training playing a low-intensity level of baseball, unless they are fighting for a roster spot of course. As soon as the regular season starts, players kick it up a gear and they are more apt to go "all out" in situations they may have held back on in the exhibition games.

We saw how high the intensity was during the three game home opener against the Atheletics, and now to wait five full days before taking the field vs the slugging Red Sox in beantown....

This will be the longest stretch of days the team will have off until the season is over, barring any more acts of God. Two days longer than the break for the 78th midsummer classic.

How will players from both Seattle and Cleveland handle this? It'll be interesting to keep tabs on the teams, see if they follow any kind of similar patterns from here on out.

46 degrees and clear in Boston tomorrow. Hardly baseball weather, but at least a game will get played.

The Mariners get snowed out.


Going into the Cleveland series, I was a little worried about how the Mariners would do. Early results on the season show the Indians to be pounding the tar out of the ball, as the line-up shows no decline from the one that out-scored its opponents by 88 runs last season. As long as the Indians' pitching is decent rather than horrid as it was last season, Cleveland looks to be a strong competitor in the AL Central.

And the Indians had a pretty good pitching effort in today's abbreviated ballgame, as Paul Byrd came one strike away from holding the Mariners hitless through five innings- which would've made it an official ballgame- before the weather worsened and Jacobs Field was enveloped in whiteout conditions. After being postponed for the third time, the game was eventually called, to be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader tomorrow.

You have to feel sorry for the fans. No way should they have been put through three delays in such lousy conditions. But, due to the unbalanced schedule, this is the only time the M's are going to be passing through Cleveland this season, and as such, the games need to be played regardless of what the weatehr forecast this weekend is. There is always a chance that one or more games may just canceled in their entirety, but if either team is in the hunt for a play-off spot later on in the season- which is very possible, considering the quality of these teams and the divisions they play in- the Mariners would have to squeeze in a quick trip to Cleveland at some point later on in the summer. That would use up a scheduled off day, which are very important for teams' health as theseason drags on.

Its a good thing the game was canceled, so none of the ugly stats will go against the Mariners. Starter Horacio Ramirez had given up six walks in four innings- exactly half of his 98 pitches were balls- which is enough for me to doubt the good feeling I had about his promsising spring. (Remember- spring training stats don't mean anything!) But how much of that was due to having lousy mechanics, and how much was it being unable to grip the ball due to inclement weather? And not being able to watch the game I wonder if any of the Indians' hits- such as Jhonny Peralta's bases-clearing double- was assisted by the M's fielders being unable to see the ball.

Whatever, it doesn't matter. The game was called, and will be made up tomorrow. Hopefully with vastly different results.

Mariners get clobbered...


So what?

You knew a loss was coming one way or another. It was enough of a wet dream come true beating Haren and Blanton in consecutive games...the thought of competing against a healthy Rich Harden? Forget it. Not even if an Oakland shortstop boots the ball around again....which, of course, happened.

So, why waste an excellent start on a sure-fire loss? That obviously must have been the question running through free-agent acquisition Miguel Batista's head as he took the mound and proceeded to pitch what must have been one of the worst games of his career. It started with Mike Piazza being balked home with no outs in the top of the second, and didn't stop until Batista had given up 8 runs on 10 hits in 4 and 2/3 innings, walking two, and even balking a second time.

In comparison, Seattle's bullpen was a remarkable bright spot, as Sean White and George Sherrill combined for 4 and 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and walking two batters.

Oaklands bullpen was even better, with Jay Marshall and Huston Street throwing two perfect innings. Not hard to do really against a sub-par team floating high on a 2-0 start and no doubt looking ahead to a weekend in chilly Cleveland against a group of young'll be interesting to see how Felix does against a team that actually has good hitters....

It's a great feeling knowing we matched our win total against Oakland from last year. But it just highlights the fact that we did so miserably against them. Yet, even though i must be realistic and admit the M's are not that much better of a team than they were last year, I can certainly proclaim, realistically, that the A's are indeed that much worse of a team, and cannot wait to get through these next 18 games against far better opponents until Seattle lands in oakland on the night of the 25th...until that tidy little two game sweep graces our boys, I can only bid them the best of luck vs the tribe, boston, minnesota, and 8 combined games against the other two western division teams that actually have potential.

I know, I'm going to eat this post when oakland goes 85-0 in August. Of course that's not possible, but if anyone could do it, it'd be the friggin' A's.

Oh yeah, Adrian Beltre went 0-4, stranding 3 base runners and striking out twice. Realizing he was going to be facing future perennial Cy Young candidate Harden, I benched him on my fantasy team in favor of upstart Devil Rays infielder B.J Upton, who did not play thanks to a rain out in New York-thereby making him a far more valuable player for me, game limits be damned!

The Mariners beat Joe Blanton!


Well, how about that!

Just when you think the cosmic forces of the universe were lined-up to prevent the Mariners from taking the first two games of the season-opening series versus the Athletics, the upstart M's found themselves on top by a score of 8-6. It made sense for the A's to tab Joe Blanton to fill the injured Esteban loaiza's number two spot in the rotation, considering he singularly was the Mariners' number one arch-nemesis in 2006. A new year turns over a new leaf, and the mariners enjoyed success at the league-average pitcher that the rest of the league saw last season.

The end result was the Mariners enjoying their first 2-0 record since 1996. Not even in the historical 2001 season did the M's win their first two games!

Beltre may have gone hitles in three at-bats, but he did pick up his first RBI of the season on a sacrifice fly. Newcomer Jose Guillen got his first two hits as a Mariner, including a double, and scored twice. Yuniesky Betancourt, not terribly known for his power, keyed a four-run seventh inning with a two-run home run, and Richie Sexson knocked hissecond homer in as many days. Though he didn't pick up the win, Jarrod Washburn allowed just three hits and two runs in six innings. In short, it was a soli all-around effort, and the sample size may just be two games but the M's have played flawless baseball in the young 2007 season.

The Marienrs have a chance for a season-opening three-game sweep tonight, but Ithink it'll be pretty unlikely. Tonight they face the wicked, wicked offerings of Rich Harden, who is probably the Athletics' most talented pitcher and if he were to stay healthy would be the consensus pick for the team's ace. Harden had a strong spring, finishing with a 1.53 ERA. Like Blanton, Harden has enjoyed tremendous success against Seattle, with a career 4-1 won-loss record and a 1.49 ERA. Raul Libanez is the only Marienr batter to have hit a home run off of Harden- one of his two hits in 18 career at-bats versus the Canadian fireballer. Richie Sexson has three extra-base hits off of Harden- all doubles- in eleven career at-bats. I bet as a team, the Mariners aren't looking forward to facing Mr. Harden tonight.

On the mound for Seattle is Miguel Batista, who is making his starting debut for the Mariners. The last time we saw Batista was last Friday in which he was getting shelled by the Chicago Cubs, giving up seven hits and four runs in three innings. Batista has struggled in his career against the A's, with a career 5.72 ERA in 13 appearances against them, including six starts. Still, none of the current Athletics batters have hit a home run off of batista, and the Athletic who has enjoyed the most success- Mark Kotsay- has started the season on the DL.

Regardless, this is going to be a pretty brutal game to watch for Mariners fans. I know I was pessimisitc with Seattle's chances versus Joe Blanton, but Rich Harden is an entirely different level of pitcher than Blanton. I'm not sure how many hits the Mariners will be able to push across, but I'm willing to wager that it will be less than five. The final score should be something along the lines of 5-1, with a very good chance that Harden will deny the M's a chance of scoring any runs at all...

Opening Day= Special KKKKKKKKKKKK!


yep. that's right. 12 of them.

When was the last time a 20 year old had that many strikeouts in a season opener? Gooden only had 6 in 1985. Valenzuela only 5 in 1981.

Felix Hernandez cruised through 8 innings, throwing 77 of 111 pitches for strikes, and throwing first pitch strikes to 21 of the 29 batters he faced. Only walking two and scattering three hits along the way.

The M's couldn't have asked for a better performance against the divisional rival that beat them 17 of 19 matchups last year. It felt good to get that first win, and have the team in a realistic position to at least match their win total against Oakland last year before the week is halfway over.

On the other hand, Oakland pretty much continued their run of dominant pitching against Seattle, giving up all 4 of their runs in the sixth inning after an error commited by shortstop Bobby Crosby (his second of the game). If not for the miscues the teams may have held each other scoreless for hours.

Congrats to Sexy for knocking the first Seattle home run of the season--his third in three opening day games for the M's. Also good to see Ichiro and our own bad bad boy get hits, as they were at a premium on this early spring afternoon.

After splitting a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs- an ugly 8-5 loss in which Miguel Batista allowed four runs on seven hits in three innings, followed by a spectacular 2-1 win on Saturday in which Jeff Weaver tossed six innings of scoreless relief (maybe there is something positive to his signing after all?)- the Mariners had no more chances to prepare for Opening Day. But prepared they were, as the M's downed the hated Oakland A's 4-0 behind a dominating performance from Felix Hernandez, who struck out 12 in eight innings, the second most by a Marienrs' Opening Day starter behind Randy Johnson's 14 Ks in 1993 and 1996.

The youngest starter to take an Opening Day start since Dwight Gooden in 1985- Felix isn't even legal until next week!- Hernandez kept the A's off balance with a steady diet of 98-mph heaters, 90-mph sliders, and breaking balls that would bottom out around 68 mph. You almost felt sorry for the A's futility at the plate, until you remembered just which team was opposing the Mariners, and that sympathy disappeared very quick.

So, for the second time in the three years under manager Mike Hargrove, the Marienrs start out the gate at 1-0. To temper excitement a bit, the Mariners did win the first match-up against the A's last season as well, before promptly being shut out in the next two games versus the A's on their way to drop fifteen in a row versus Oakland. Still, you have to go back to that magical season of 1995 in which Randy Johnson held the Tigers to three hits over six innings for the prior Mariners' Opening Day shut-out. The M's had been shut-out three times on Opening Day since then, but it took another dominating starter for the M's to return the favor and establish the season on dominant footing.

The first hit of 2007 was provided by Jose Vidro, who lined a single up the middle in the fourth. The first run for the M's was scored by Ichiro Suzuki, who reached on a Raul Ibanez sacrifice fly. And the first home run hit by the M's was a two-out, three-run shot hit 415 feet to straight away center field by Richie Sexson, who knocked in Adrian Beltre and Jose Vidro. This all came after an inning-ending double play was miffed by Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby, who committed two werrors in the game. Taking advantage of extra outs is what good teams do. I'm not saying anything else besides that...

Perhaps the only Mariner batter who struggled today was Kenji Johjima who looked lost at the plate. Granted, Danny Haren is a good starter for the A's, but it appeared as if Johjima was taking wild guesses when he was up there to hack, which resulted in a hitless afternoon. That, coupled with the pased ball he allowed, was a blemish on an otherwise perfect day.

Tomorrow evening, the M's line-up faces their most dastardly enemy Joe Blanton, who went 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA versus the Mariners last year, and went 12-12 with a 5.40 against the rest of baseball. To see what I really think of Joe Blanton, check out some blog posts from last season. The Mariners will counter with left-hander Jarrod Washburrn who, in a fairly large sample size of 28 career games versus the A's, has a career record of 7-12 and 4.10 ERA. Will the Mariners be able to overcome the hypnosis that Joe Blanton used to overpower them with last season, forcing them to futilely wave their bats in a pathetic display of impotence versus his offerings? For the sake of being realistic, I'm going to say that its doubtful. The M's have to give Blanton a good pounding before I predict them to come out on top, and until that happens I'm going to have to give the edge to the young right-hander from Tennessee. Prediction for the final outcome: A's on top, 6-1.


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