Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MARINERS: M's beat Oakland 5-3 in roller coaster season opener

The Mariner’s season-opener certainly had its ups and downs. On a sunny, yet chilly evening in San Francisco, fans were on their toes 'til the very end as Seattle prevailed in the ninth, breaking a tie to win 5-3.

With plenty of speculation about the 2010 season, the M’s have something to prove to their critics about the new roster.

To Continue...

However, in the first three innings it was the newcomers, second baseman Chone Figgins and first baseman Casey Kotchman, who really started the Mariners off on the right foot, proving they came to play for their new team.

Both former Anaheim Angels, Kotchman was the batter to watch this game, providing four RBI’s off of Oakland pitcher Ben Sheets, including Figgins’ score early in the first inning. In the second inning, catcher Rob Johnson fired a solo home run to bring the score to 2-0.

The energy carried over into the third inning as Kotchman achieved his second RBI of the evening after Figgins used his speed to steal both first and second base in a matter of minutes. It seems it is this aggressive, surprising style of play that the M’s intend to maintain throughout the season.

With a comfortable 3-0 lead, veteran pitcher Felix Hernandez did a stellar job holding the A’s to an almost scoreless game. Throwing nearly 90 pitches in seven innings, Hernandez proved why he deserves another five years with the Mariners. Unfortunately, it was the bottom of the sixth that caught the M’s unaware when Oakland center fielder Rajai Davis scored off an RBI after walking on and stealing second and third.

Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis scored off of short stop Cliff Pennington’s RBI in the seventh. Finally, the A’s ended their scoring streak with another hit off Hernandez to drive in Pennington, leaving the score 3-3.

In an attempt to break the tie, Kotchman fired a hit to center field where Davis made a dramatic sliding catch for the out. However, in the slow motion replay the ball clearly bounced off the grass first and into his glove. It was an unfortunate call that would never have flown at Safeco Field.

Luckily, Kotchman was able to redeem the lousy call in the ninth inning with a well-placed pop fly to the gap in center field, both Johnson and Ichiro were able to cross home plate bringing the score to the final 5-3.

Mariner’s pitcher Brandon League relieved Hernandez in the eighth, and although he did not allow any more runs, the A’s were able to get some close-call hits off of him. His time on the mound was short lived as reliever David Aardsma closed out the final inning with no hits.

Catch the next Mariner’s game on Tuesday, April 6, against the Oakland Athletics at 7:05 p.m.

Reach Andi Williamson at nextseasonsports@gmail.com