Things couldn’t have lined up much better for the Mariners’ seasons home opener: Ken Griffey Jr. throwing out the first pitch, record-breaking crowd, beautiful weather and a visiting division rival with low expectations. The result, of course, was a demoralizing sweep that included two one-run losses and only four total runs scored.
Then again, it’s a loooong season.
“Brock and Salk” listed a number of “teal linings” from the lost series against the A’s, reminding people that there is still plenty of good that can happen in the next 156 games.
1. New first baseman, Dae-Ho Lee, connected on his first Major League home run.
2. Mike Montgomery is making the transition to bullpen look easy, pitching three hitless innings in two appearances.
3. Strong starts for catcher Chris Iannetta and outfielder Seth Smith, both of whom are hitting at or above .300. “Seth Smith is one professional hitter,” Mike Salk said. “There is one thing you trust, that guy is not swinging at a pitch unless he absolutely wants to.”
4. Though the Mariners’ strikeout to walk ratio was a disturbing 9/25, Salk noted that controlling the zone takes some time. “It takes an organization how long to make that kind of a shift?” he asked. “Over the last seven years, they’ve made no attempt whatsoever to control the zone or do anything related to getting on base or do anything progressive in any way. It’s going to take time and that’s not going to happen instantly. This is not the full Jerry Dipoto team that he wants. I think eventually that will take hold. But in the meantime, you’re going to have some nine-walk, 25-strikeout weekends. I hope that they are limited and are as few and far between as possible.”
5. Taijuan Walker performed well on the big home-opener stage despite some spotty defense behind him. “He wasn’t flustered, even though he was screaming and spitting in his glove – which I kind of like,” Brock Huard said. “He was pretty sharp, pretty good. That stage is not too big for Taijuan.”
6. Manager Scott Servais stuck to his late-inning plan by calling on Steve Cishek Sunday, even after the closer gave up the game-losing home run Friday. “I thought that both times Servais handled it the right way,” Salk said. “I like more than anything that Servais is true to what he wants to do. He’s got a plan and even though it backfired on him on Friday, he came back and did the same thing on Sunday because it was the right thing to do.”
7. King Felix is still King Felix.
8. The rest of the division hasn’t started too much better – with the Mariners sitting tied with two others at 2-4 in the standings. Plus, Seattle suffered no major injuries, unlike the Rangers.