I know we’re only three games in, but it’s still nice to look at the standings and see the Mariners on top of the American League West. We’re so used to seeing “Seattle” at the bottom or somewhere near the bottom.
After one of the most disappointing season openers ever, the Mariners unleashed their temper and power in the next two games in Texas, and now they look more like world beaters instead of punching bags.
It should be a great atmosphere for the home opener Friday night with 40,000 fans hoping Taijuan Walker can help the Mariners improve to 3-1 with a victory over Oakland. You’d like to think the Mariners should win this series over the A’s, everyone’s pick to finish last in the division, with Nathan Karns going Saturday night and Felix Hernandez pitching the final game of the series on Sunday. It helps that A’s ace Sonny Gray will miss the series after beating the White Sox Wednesday night.
The Mariners said things would be different when they came out of spring training, and this time that appears to be the case. They haven’t been “The Same-Old Mariners” the last two games.
If they were “The Same-Old Mariners,” Chris Iannetta would have politely run straight to first base and minded his manners after being plunked by Tom Wilhelmsen Tuesday night. If they were “The Same-Old Mariners,” they would not have rallied in the ninth inning for a 9-5 victory Wednesday afternoon. Last year’s team would have lost 5-4 and been encouraged that they sort of fought ’til the end and came close to beating Texas.
I’m not sure which was better, the eighth inning Tuesday featuring F-bombs from Iannetta and manager Scottt Servais and homers from Robinson Cano and Seth Smith, or the ninth inning Wednesday featuring five runs off of a closer who blew only two saves all last year.
I’d vote for the eighth inning Tuesday even though the Mariners didn’t win a road game all last year when trailing going into the ninth inning. I’d argue that that eighth inning had something to do with the ninth-inning rally the next day. The Mariners showed some gumption, and I’m not even sure if that’s the right word for it. I just like that they fired back at the Rangers when The Bartender clearly tried to hit Iannetta. It’s silly watching two grown men exchange F-words the way Servais and Rangers manager Jeff Banister did, but I enjoyed the heck out of it anyway.
It’s just nice to see emotional fire from the Mariners. How many times did we watch the placid looks on Dustin Ackley’s and Justin Smoak’s faces after they struck out and headed back to the dugout? I’m sure they were burning inside, but I want to see more of that burning outside stuff, too, the kind we saw from Iannetta as he headed to first base.
This season has gotten off to an interesting start, and instead of wondering how it’s going to unravel, after what happened in Texas, aren’t you excited or at least intrigued to see how things play out in the coming weeks and months?
We saw more reasons for hope than doom in Arlington.
With four home runs in three games, Cano was so good that for the first time since he’s been here, I’d argue that he’s underpaid. Just kidding, but that’s certainly more in line of what we expected for $240 million.
Players were getting on base, and the RBI guys were bringing them in, just like general manager Jerry Dipoto planned it out. The starters, aside from one slider that Wade Miley threw to Prince Fielder, pitched well, and the supposedly below-average bullpen was brilliant with nine innings of scoreless relief.
I’m so impressed by what the Mariners did in Texas that it even extends to Luis Sardinas, who could end up being the best utility player in franchise history. As you know, a long time ago, before anyone else, I called Russell Wilson the best Seahawks quarterback in franchise history, so don’t dismiss this Sardinas proclamation as a crazy prediction. I believe that Mark McLemore currently holds the distinction as the best utility player in Mariners history, but Sardinas is going to pass him up, and the only thing stopping him is the chance that he’s so good that he won’t be a utility player anymore, replacing Ketel Marte on a permanent basis as the starting shortstop.
One thing we can agree upon: with the Mariners this year, all things are possible, and most of them appear to be good for a change.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com, KitsapSun.com and jimmooregocougs.com You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.