Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Opening Day Brings Victory to Mariners and Hope to Fans

Opening Day! A special day in the life of most baseball fans, but to those die hard fans out there, it's a day that is anticipated with every off-season trade rumor. It's a day that you look forward to from the last World Series game, through the Winter Meetings and on into Spring Training. Now, here we are. Day one of an 162 game season and your Seattle Mariners start their trek with 22 of 25 games versus their American League West rivals.

Tonight's game against the L.A. Angels was an amazing start to what we hope to be an amazing season. Felix Hernandez took the hill against Jared Weaver of the Angels and in the bottom of the first, after just two hitters, the Mariners and Felix were down 2 - 0. Mike Trout hit a bomb to left field and showed the world that he's worth every penny the Angels gave him this Spring when they renegotiated his contract. It was a rough start but the Mariners would fight back.

After a Michael Saunders sac fly the Mariners pulled within a run but the Angels snatched that one right back on an error and a bad read on a ball in left field off the bat of Albert Pujols. The M's put another run on the board but were still down 3 - 2 when Felix came out of the game at the end of the 6th. As is customary for Felix starts, the Mariners do not score runs when Felix is on the hill, but tonight would prove to be entirely different.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Mariners offense went to work. With one out, Dustin Ackley singled and was followed by Mike Zunino who hit a triple off the wall on a poor defensive play by Josh Hamilton and the game was tied at 3. Abraham Almonte came to the plate and facing new pitcher Fernando Salas, ripped a double in the left center field gap that scored Zunino and put the M's up for good.

In the ninth, the M's would add another 6 runs on a three run homerun by Justin Smoak and a bases clearing triple by Dustin Ackley after the Angels bullpen walked the bases loaded. The final score, Mariners 10, Angels 3. Felix Hernandez took home the win for his seventh consecutive opening day start and for the first time in a long time the Mariners can boast about being in first place atop their division.

Many fans will look at the success of Opening Day and revert to the Mariners history of winning on this day but flailing much of the season after, but some of us get a horrible sense of hope that grabs hold of us and wont let go. In recent years that hope has clung on until late June or so before prying itself loose with a 16 game losing streak or a couple of series sweeps at the hands of our division rivals. We all understand that this season may not be any different for us this year but to not hope at all is to not love the game. It's only one game in a trend of seasons with one theme, losing, but it's one game of an 162 game season that started with a win.

I'm not counting us in as World Series contenders or even playoff bound, but it's the same every year. We root and cheer, we complain and whine, we scratch and claw with the hopes of continuing to play come October. It may not be likely, but in baseball it's never impossible!

Mariners - True to the Blue!