Oakland– The Mariners offense strung together a run in each of the first three innings tonight in Oakland. New additions Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman were key pieces in the Seattle offense. Figgins scored on an RBI double by Kotchman in the first inning. Kotchman added RBI’s in the third with a sacrifice fly and the two winning RBI’s in the top of the ninth.
The M’s were cruising along for the first six innings of the game before Rajai Davis stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball. Ryan Sweeney picked up an RBI single to make it 3-1. Mariners starter Felix Hernandez then ran into some trouble in the seventh, walking two batters before being pulled. Sean White came in pitch in relief of Hernandez and allowed two hits. Two runs were credited to Hernandez, who went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only three hits.
The story of the game though was Hernandez control issues. He walked six batters and two of them came around to score.
The Seattle offense got some help from the Oakland defense, which commited four costly errors. Base on balls also killed Oakland, as four of the five Mariner runs got on board due to Oakland walks.
The Mariners came out of the gate running, moving runners into scoring position and capitalizing on Oakland mistakes. Without much pop in the Mariner lineup, moving runners up and playing small ball will be the key to the offense. Figgins and Kotchman did exactly what they were brought in to do tonight.
However, don’t be surprised to see manager Don Wakamatsu tweak with the lineup some in the early days of the season. Wakamatsu has been catching some slack from fans for not hitting Figgins in the leadoff spot and moving Ichiro to the number two hole. The logic behind that is that Ichiro does not walk very often and Figgins will work the count to draw a walk. Ichiro of course is known for his string of 200 hit seasons, but it will do little moving Ichiro up 90 feet with a walk, when Figgins could score from first on a double.
If tonight was any indication of how the Mariner offense will operate when it’s firing on all cylinders it indicates they have the ability to put up some runs without having to knock the ball out of the park.