Realistically, we don’t expect the 2009 Seattle Mariners to be a playoff ballclub.
That’s not going to stop us from believing, however.
The undefeated, first-place, best-record-in-the-Major-Leagues M’s are 1-0 after knocking off the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis last night.
Though the sample size is small, if the first victory is any barometer for the rest of the season, then things are looking good for our hometown ballclub.
The M’s played a complete game, getting effective pitching and timely hitting, against one of the American League’s elite pitchers, on the road in a tough place to play.
Mariners’ hitters knocked typically untouchable Twins’ ace Francisco Liriano around for four runs across seven innings. That included a two-run home run from new centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez, as well as a solo shot from our old centerfielder, Ken Griffey, Jr. So much for not hitting the lefties.
And though the team only managed six hits throughout all nine frames, the hits came in clutch situations. Gutierrez’s blast was an example of that, as was Jose Lopez’s two-run single in the top of the ninth.
The team’s first run of the year was set up nicely by an Adrian Beltre double, followed by a Junior sacrifice groundout that moved Beltre to third, and finally a sac fly from Lopez to score the third baseman.
All Felix Hernandez would need was two runs. He held the Twins to one run across eight innings, striking out six along the way, and walking three. He was relieved in the ninth by Miguel Batista, who slammed the door on Minnesota after giving up one hit and striking out one.
From start to finish, the game felt right. The Mariners were in the driver’s seat the entire way, and looked confident and capable compared to their unsure, incompetent predecessors of a year prior.
Immediately after the game, while shaking hands and congratulating one another on a job well done, smiles seemed to radiate from each individual in a Seattle jersey. Who knows how long those smiles will last, but one game into the season, it’s exactly what we want to see.