Before the season started, a split against the defending A.L. West champions in Oakland might have been a best-case scenario for the Seattle Mariners in their opening series. However, after masterfully taking the first two games of the series, it seemed like a little bit of a letdown as the Mariners now find themselves at 2-2 and heading to the Windy City for three with the White Sox. The Mariners got off to a blazing start holding the A’s to one run in the first two games but Oakland’s bats turned the tables in Games 3 and 4 winning 6-2 and 8-2.
That New 1-2 Punch. The beginning of your rotation is never in doubt if you send a Cy Young winner in his prime to the mound. Felix Hernandez guided the Mariners to an Opening Day victory with a 2-0 shutout of Oakland on Monday. Hernandez went 7.2 innings before turning it over to the bullpen allowing three hits and striking out eight. The question was the new No. 2 starter replacing Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma, who wasn’t even a starter full-time for Seattle last season, picked up where King Felix left off on Tuesday. In a 7-1 victory, Iwakuma allowed two hits and one earned run in six innings while striking out seven.
Welcome Back, Michael Morse! Seattle needing to desperately add punch to their offense traded John Jaso to these A’s in a three-team deal that netted them Michael Morse. Morse came up with Seattle and played for the Mariners in 2005-2008. During that time, he had 3 Home Runs as a Mariner. He has now topped that in his first series. Morse belted 4 HRs and had 6 RBI in the four-game set against Oakland. With his four bombs, Morse tied Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997 as the only Mariners to have four HRs in their first four games. Besides the power, Morse’s average is at a robust .375.
Early Struggles. Joe Saunders, a late free agent acquisition, tried to give Seattle their first 3-0 start since 1995 but only went 4 innings in a 6-2 loss on Wednesday. Saunders allowed seven hits, five of them doubles, and gave up 4 earned runs. Brandon Maurer made his Major League debut today, and he had his up-and-downs. Maurer was tagged early for a two-run Home Run by Josh Reddick in the first. He then settled and didn’t allow another hit until the 5th. After a Morse HR made it 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Oakland broke the game open against Maurer tagging the rookie for three more runs highlighted by Yoenis Cespedes’ two-run HR. Some batters have also had a slow start out of the box for Seattle: Kendrys Morales went 1-for-12 in the series, Dustin Ackley also went 1-for-12, and Raul Ibanez went 0-for-7.
Onward to Chicago. The Mariners now go up against the Chicago White Sox, a three-game set on Friday through Sunday. The good news is Hernandez will start Saturday against the Sox No. 5 starter, Dylan Axelrod, instead of their ace, Chris Sale, who will face Hisashi Iwakuma in the series finale. The bad news is Seattle was 1-8 against Chicago last season. The White Sox, who play their first six at home, took two of three from the Kansas City Royals losing their first game of the season today 3-1. The White Sox had low production in the Royals series, scoring seven runs in three games.