Mariners Split Series in Oakland

On Monday and Tuesday we saw perhaps the best we’ll ever see of Mariners fans. Optimism reigned supreme as it does for most fanbases this early in the season. The offense was maybe better, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma were as good as we remembered them being, and the Mariners were undefeated. The last two days we’ve seen the deconstruction of some optimistic Mariners fans.

Of course, preaching that “it’s early” is totally valid, but chances are if you’ve sunk into mode that I can’t break you out of. Cynicism isn’t your fault. It’s a culture created by more than a decade of losing.

Cynicism is also not worth trying to talk you out of.

Morse has the power

In four games Mike Morse has four home runs. It took the Mariners eight games as a team to hit four home runs last year. Last year Jesus Montero was the first Mariner to hit four home runs and he did it in the team’s 24th game, their last game in April. Morse had a 380 wRC+ in this series. Mike Morse has played like a god for four games. That’s good, and it’s good to get early returns on a trade that much of the Seattle Mariners blogosphere — myself included — thought was a bad move.

Up in Smoak

Obviously this is silly. I reference Mike Morse’s comically high wRC+ in part to display how good he was, but more as a display of how silly it is to jump on or off of ayone’s bandwagon this early in the season. Justin Smoak has two hits in four games. Justin Smoak has been on base five times in 17 plate appearances. He has no extra base hits. He has 17 plate appearances. He probably won’t be the MVP candidate that some people seemed to feel was imminent after a productive spring, but this doesn’t mean that we have to go back to hating Smoak. At least not yet.

Felix and Iwakuma

Some people may think that Felix deserves his own subheader. Those people aren’t three beers deep trying to slam this series recap together and go to sleep. Felix struck out eight in 7.2 innings and missed 18 bats in 109 pitches. He was sharp, and walked only one batter.

Iwakuma missed 14 bats in only 88 pitches. He struck out seven in six innings. The Mariners top two starters were very good, which is something we’ve grown to expect from them, though Iwakuma obviously is a relative newcomer to those expectations.

Saunders and Maurer

Joe Saunders and Brandon Maurer both got their shit kicked a bit. Saunders allowed 11 baserunners, including 7 hits and 4 walks. Five of those hits were doubles.

Maurer was even worse in his first big league start. After striking out more than a batter an inning in spring he struck out only one batter in six innings in his first start. He allowed two home runs, walked no batters, and missed 7 bats in 74 pitches. Starts like this could send Maurer back to the minors, especially if Erasmo Ramirez gets healthy.

Playing for nobody

The Oakland A’s had a pretty solid opening day attendance, drawing over 36,000 fans. Their attendance dropped more than 20,000 for the next three games, and they drew only 12,134 fans in the final game of the series. Last year the Mariners actually drew more fans than the A’s, though by less than 50,000 fans. The difference, of course, is that the A’s won 94 games and the American League West. Nineteen more wins, less fans.

I’m not a fan of everything that goes on in the Safeco Field stands, but it could be worse.

In summation

The Mariners are 2-2 and on their way to a three game series in Chicago against the White Sox. The run environment in Chicago is much better than Oakland, and the pitching staff is worse. That should bode well for the Mariners heading into their home opener.