Both the Twins and Mariners had Monday off, the Twins after a four game split with the Devil Rays at home, while this weekend the Mariners won two of three from Texas at home, giving them two series wins at home so far this season in two tries. Seattle enters this series in first place in the AL West.
On to the M’s:
The Devil Rays anagrams were a hit last time, so I’ll provide a couple for the M’s free of charge. If you feel like playing around on your own, go here.
Seattle Mariners: Tenser Materials; Termite Arsenals; Streamline Tears; Terminal Teasers
* Starters for this series *
Jeff Weaver: No Anagrams
Felix Hernandez: Hazel fern index
Jarrod Washburn: Drab jar who runs
I’m sure you all can do better, but it’s late and I still have the rest of this thing to write. Onward!
We will see Ramon Ortiz against Jeff Weaver on Tuesday, Weaver had a very rough debut (7 runs in 2.0 IP) which led the M’s to consider trying out the new shift proposed here. Felix Hernandez (see below for links) will go against Carlos Silva on Wednesday (check out my analysis of Silva’s first two starts over at MN Sports Guys). It’s kind of funny that in eight games so far this season, Seattle has yet to face a left handed starting pitcher. They will get to face one of the best on Thursday when Johan Santana takes the mound against Jarrod Washburn. Johan has been his usual dominating self against the Mariners in the past. Here’s hoping that continues.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way. I give you a somewhat dated guide to drinking at Safeco Field on a budget (please use responsibly).
USS Mariner is definitely one of the most widely read blogs, not just for Mariner’s fans, but for baseball fans in general. I’ll let you poke around over there on your own, but they have published some interesting looks at trade value, both the good and the bad. I bet you can guess the two Twins in the top 10 on the “good” list.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, perhaps the biggest story so far this season has been off the field, when their four game series with Cleveland was completely cancelled due to a blizzard. That didn’t stop the guys at Lookout Landing from recapping what might have been. In the first game of the series, the two teams came within one strike of completing the fifth inning when Mike Hargrove delayed long enough with the umpires that the conditions became so bad that the game was called. Here’s a defense of that ploy, in probably one of the only concrete examples of a manager saving his team from a loss.
Of course, the biggest story on the field for Seattle has been the white-hot start of Felix Hernandez. Through two starts, he has not allowed a run in 17.0 IP, only allowed 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 18. He’s seriously good, he has a lower ERA than Carlos Silva so far this year! (how many of you would have bet on that a month ago… wait, never mind). Mariner fans are understandably excited about the ascension of “King Felix” thus far, and those who expressed doubts are beating a hasty retreat.
It seems like every team we’ve played so far this year has their own Japanese import (Chicago: Iguchi, New York: Matsui, Igawa, Tampa: Iwamura), but the Mariners have one of the earliest, biggest, and best imports in Ichiro (owner of an impressive death glare, seriously, don’t make him mad). Since his debut in 2001, the influx of Japanese players from the NPB to Major League Baseball has had enormous effects on the game both here and there. Robert Whiting, author of several books about Japanese baseball, has written a series of articles in the Japan Times on whether this migration is the beginning of the end of the Japanese baseball league.
The Mariner’s regular outfield consists of Ichiro, Jose Guillen, and Raul Ibanez while the remainder of the lineup is made up of Richie “Funk Blast” Sexson, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Adrian Beltre, with Jose Vidro as the backup infielder/DH. Of those eight players, only Ichiro is batting higher than .235. So far most of the offense has come from catcher Kenji Johjima (.476/.542/.714 in 21 at bats). Johjima’s backup has a little history with the Twins.
As I mentioned above, the offense thus far has been awful for the Mariners, but may be starting to come around. They had scored 20 runs in the first 6 games before beating up the Rangers for 22 in their last two wins.