Last season the Mariners were just one win away from reaching the postseason. The team made huge improvements getting 16 more wins than the previous year behind spectacular performances by All-Star players Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Fernando Rodney.
Cano was the big acquisition last year coming from the New York Yankees for a ten year, $240 million contract. Now the Mariners are looking to build on last year as they appear poised to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2001 season. The Mariners still have all of their key players from last year and have bolstered their offense with the additions of Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano, Rickie Weeks and last year’s homerun leader Nelson Cruz.
Opening Day was on Monday and Safeco Field had an incredible atmosphere. For the first time in years, the stadium was not only completely full of fans, but it was full of fans that expected the game to end with a Mariners win. The Mariners started off their season with a three-game series of last year’s AL West champions, the Los Angeles Angels. Opening day went completely the Mariners way.
Felix Hernandez did give up a homerun to Mike Trout in the first inning but was near perfect through the rest of the game. He ended up pitching seven innings while only giving up two hits and one run. He also struck out ten batters. The Mariners’ closer Fernando Rodney who led all of baseball in saves last season, got his first of the year om the ninthe inning.
On the offensive side, it was clear that the Mariners had succeeded in making improvements. Nelson Cruz did not have the amazing debut that most fans anticipated as he went without a hit. However the new right fielder Seth Smith, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres, had two doubles and one triple in his debut for the Mariners. The team finished with ten base hits and left fielder Dustin Ackley had a homerun in the game.
At 4-1 the Mariners won their ninth straight opening day game. It will be interesting to see if they can deliver behind more strong pitching and an improved offense that could potentially keep this team playing through the month of October, and maybe even their first World Series.
Harrison Bucher is a business management and marketing major in his second year at Seattle University. This year he joined the Spectator as a writer. He enjoys writing, movies and sports.