Food Poisoning

Ken Griffey Jr., Felix Hernandez
It should have been better. Former Seattle Mariners player Ken Griffey Jr., left, playfully mimics the motion made by Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) from a no-hitter years earlier, after Griffey threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariner’ home-opener baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Friday, April 8, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

On Friday the Mariners came back to Seattle for a little home cooking. After taking the Texas Rangers to task on the road and winning their three game series, the M’s planned to do the same to open the season at home.  Unfortunately the Oakland A’s were not obliging, sweeping the home team.

In Texas, the M’s scored 21 runs over three games.  At Safeco the A’s allowed only four runs over three games.  It’s not as though the M’s were exactly pummeled, allowing only three runs in game one and two runs in ten innings in the Sunday finale.  No, the news is that they were absolutely bewildered, flummoxed and otherwise discombobulated offensively. The M’s scraped together only 15 hits in the series. (They had 14 against the Rangers in Wednesdays’ game.) They also struck out 25 times and walked only seven times, so they lost the battle to control the zone.

Though offense was in general missing, right-handed hitters failed in those key platoon roles against left handed pitching. Entering Sunday’s game the team was hitting only .167 against southpaws, and four of the six starters they’ve faced were lefties.

Though Sunday’s starter, Chris Bassitt was not a mysterious left-handed gun-slinger, the Mariners could manage little against him either, eking out only three hits to go with five walks, and scoring only one unearned run.  The M’s were 0-8 with runners in scoring position.

As aggravating as the Mariners offensive woes were in this series, the performance of the bullpen is equally disconcerting.  In Texas, the bullpen allowed one hit and no runs in nine innings of work.  At home the relief corps pitched ten innings, allowing five runs on seven hits.  Three of the runs were on solo homers and proved to be the difference in both the Friday and Sunday games.

One always hopes that an opening home series gives us lots to cheer about, builds momentum for a successful season, and gets the fan base fired up for future games.  Instead of home cooking, this felt much more like a nasty case of food poisoning. It’s only one series in a 162-game season, but as the season gets under way one can only hope that scoring runs jumps to the top of their priorities.

The best thing the M’s can do is swallow some Pepto-Bismol, and welcome those Rangers to town for a home series.  They’ll have plenty of opportunities to give the A’s some payback later, but they have to settle their tummies first. Perhaps the Texans will provide the balm the Mariners need.

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