Live-Blogging the Mariners vs. Athletics MLB Season Opener Seattle Sports Central
Good morning/evening and welcome to the beginning of what’s sure to maybe be yet another exciting Major League Baseball season! Here on the internet we take things like 3:00 AM baseball quite seriously, which is why I’ll be chronicling every second of the action as it happens, second by second, pitch by pitch, camera cut by camera cut. Well, perhaps not quite that frequently but the updates certainly will be live. A “live-blog,” if you will.
This game pits Felix Hernandez against Brandon McCarthy in a matchup that will be constantly over-analyzed for the week to come while we impatiently await more meaningful baseball. King Felix is the king and you know he’s the king and I know he’s the king and did you know Felix has been worth 32.7 wins over 1388.1 career innings, which is amazing? Brandon McCarthy is excellent at re-tweeting comedians and enjoyed a helluva breakout season last year: 4.92 K/BB and a 2.86 FIP, good for 4.7 WAR. But he’s not Felix and he’s not a Seattle Mariner, so on this night we wish him doom and gloom.
And now we’ve got a lineup, courtesy of the Mariners official twitter account. If it looks unsurprising, that’s because it is.
SH Chone Figgins, 3B
LH Dustin Ackley, 2B
LH Ichiro, RF
SH Justin Smoak, 1B
RH Jesus Montero, DH
LH Mike Carp, LF
RH Miguel Olivo, C
LH Michael Saunders, CF
RH Brendan Ryan, SS
First pitch is in three hours, hooooooooooly craaap
3:05 – “Get after it!” I didn’t hear this slogan until yesterday, when I finally got around to watching this year’s batch of commercials. To be honest, it makes so little sense and can be interpreted in so many strange ways, but I kind of like it. “Get after it!” yells the little league coach to the cowering, undersized ten-year-old as he backs away from a fastball in the zone. “Get after it!” Eric Wedge tells Carlos Peguero, always. It fits.
I set my alarm for 2:55 and felt flustered-yet-accomplished when I actually woke up to it. Dave Sims looks like his morning is taking a similar route.
3:06 – Eric Sogard has glasses! I’m picking him for AL MVP this year.
3:09 – Eric Sogard is starting! This excites me. The first pitch of the 2012 MLB season is a strike thrown to Chone Figgins, who grounds out on the next pitch. I swear he’s gotten shorter.
3:11 – Dave Sims asks what we are eating for breakfast at 3 AM. I am eating cane sugar Mountain Dew. Ackley grounds out. Oh wow people are cheering quite loud for Ichiro
3:15 – “First infield hit of the season” says Sims as Ichiro bounces one over McCarthy’s head. It is also the first hit by Ichiro in Japan against the Athletics, which is also neat trivia. It’s also the first hit of the MLB season! Milestone! The Ichi-Meter is here. It’s at 001.
3:17 – Brandon McCarthy does good pitcher things as I consider making nachos. Holy crapoli it’s Felix time sunshine and lollipopsssss
3:27 – Felix! I see Felix on my television! Felix is currently throwing baseballs at Oakland Athletics. Jemile Weeks singles because he is cheating. The only explanation is that he is cheating. Cliff Pennington is so boring that I just forgot Chone Figgins is our leadoff hitter. Pennington flies out to center. Weeks steals second because Miguel Olivo can’t do anything right. Coco Crisp, who is still not a cereal, grounds out to first. Seth Smith is hitting cleanup and Yoenis Cespedes is hitting seventh. The Oakland lineup is kind of strange. Billy Bean really likes Seth Smith, or at least thats the vibe I got from reading his excellent Athletics Nation interview. Felix makes Smith look like a newborn baby squirrel with a devastating curveball strikeout. Felix!
3:32 – Jesus Montero! The first pitch Montero sees as a Mariner quickly turns into a ground out to Eric Sogard, who has glasses. Mike Carp grounds out to first. Brandon McCarthy is keeping the ball on the ground, but not if Miguel Olivo has anything to say about it! Five seconds after I type that, Olivo grounds out to second. This game has wasted no time in being soooooo Mariners.
3:39 – Ever since that Mike Fast article on pitch framing I’ve been eager to watch Felix hit all his spots. Felix hit all his spots in that strikeout of Kurt Suzuki, and life is beautiful. One pitch later he hits his spot again and Reddick grounds out. Now it’s Felix Hernandez vs. Yoenis Cespedes, who is enormous. I can hear Criss Cross in my head and everything. Cespedes is standing a pace away from home plate and strikes out chasing a pitch that Felix missed badly on. Life is beautiful.
3:47 – Michael Saunders, “the talk of spring training,” rips a first-pitch single off the barrel into right field. Smallest-possible-sample-size optimism is creeping over me. Brendan Ryan can do great impersonations and licks his shoulder before every pitch. The Condor steals second as I continue to swell with joy. Brendan Ryan licked his shoulder twice that time, then bounces one to third for a fielder’s choice on a ball that Saunders probably shouldn’t have run on. And just like that, Brendan Ryan is thrown out stealing as Figgins blows it on what could have been a great bunt. He bunts the next pitch foul because he’s dumb and I don’t like him. If those baserunning gaffes were hard on us fans at home, they seem to have really terrified Figgins, who looks like he just realized he lives in a haunted house or something. Figgins grounds out because of course he does.
3:53 – Sports sports sports. The inside of the Tokyo Dome looks like an airport as Brandon Allen comes to the plate. Brandon Allen is bad but he “hit 21 home runs in Reno a couple of years ago,” so there’s that. But 21 home runs in Reno won’t do a damn thing today because Felix just struck him out and my God is he dealing right now. Eric Sogard is standing at the plate right now fixing my printer, and then a ground out. Weeks flies out to Saunders and there’s still no score after three innings. My printer is still broken. Eric Sogard is blowing it.
4:02 – Ack Attack! Ding dong to center field and that’s the first run of the 2012 MLB season. Wow! That at-bat was an adventure: stares at one down the middle of the plate, barely holds back on one way outside, then clobbers pitch number three way out of the yard. Ichiro follows up with his second straight infield single and the Ichi-Meter is up to #02. Ichiro understands that Brandon McCarthy is making it difficult to get the ball off the ground, so he’s apparently decided to issue a reminder that the grounder game is one that he can win. Smoak grounds out as Ichiro bolts to second. Montero hits it hard but Reddick runs the perfect route and turns what looked like a well-placed single into an out. Carp flies out to left, but a run! They scored a run!
4:10 – Jen Mueler eating fried rice and eggrolls because why the hell not? Cliff Pennington hits a double to the warning track, but it wasn’t an exciting one because Cliff Pennington makes everything boring. Coco Crisp sacrifices him over to third, Seth Smith lines out to Smoak. The Mariner Moose is dancing around and terrifying little Japanese children much unlike the way Godzilla terrifies little American children. Aaaaaaand we have a tie game after Mike Carp dives for a Kurt Suzuki liner, which is so cute. “Great effort” is a perfect way to describe a bad dive by a bad outfielder. “Oakrand Assretics.” Josh Reddick looks like he should be the lead singer for a christian rock band, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t, but he does fly out to the infield. A Sleep Country ad is running right now, which is a great idea because it’s the middle of the night. A comfortable mattress is definitely on my mind right now, despite all the Mountain Dew and potato chips.
4:16 – An Eric Sogard throwing error leads to Miguel Olivo reaching base on a dribbler to third. Or as Sogard would say, “that was not the greatest experienth.” It’s a shame that Michael Saunders’ batting gloves cover up his maple leaf wrist tattoo, but it’s more of a shame that he just hit into a brutal double play. Boog grounds out. This is without a doubt a Mariners vs. Athletics game.
4:25 – Felix hits Cespedes on the wrist. We get to watch a replay of this, but we don’t get to watch a replay of Ackley’s homer? What is this once-great world coming to? Felix strikes Brandon Allen out to death so hard, restoring the balance of the cosmos. Eric Sogard’s glasses ground out to first as Cespedes trots down to second base. It’s pretty unbelievable that those two humans are on the same professional baseball team. Felix strikes out Jemile Weeks with one of the most beautiful inside strikes I’ve ever seen. Why do hitters even bother attempting to bat against Felix? It’s futile and frustrating. Weeks spikes his bat into the ground and screams because Felix is so much better than him. I still kind of want to make nachos.
4:35 – Figgins rolls one through the right side of the infield and we finally get a replay of Ackley’s mammoth bomb. Ackley just had a big swing-and-a-miss, which I swear he must have done no more than twice all last season. Time to panic! He takes a called third strike, but it was low, and he knows it, so he walks it off. People here reeeeaallly seem to like this Ichiro character, if cheers and applause are indicators of anything. Ichiro grounds one through the middle of the infield and all of a sudden he’s 3-for-3, all on the ground. Prototypical number three hitter! Smoak lines out to left. Jesus Montero is having technical difficulties with his batting gloves, which gives Sims a perfect opportunity to say something something pressure something expectations something. Montero responds by grounding the next pitch straight to second. Welcome to Mariners baseball, Jesus.
4:50 – Cliff Pennington’s hits are boring and obnoxious, and he just added another one. Coco Crisp is really trying to rock the Guti look, forgetting the fact that Guti is much more handsome than he. Pennington stole second, but I yawned anyway. Mike Carp catches a Crisp pop at the wall and Pennington makes it to third safely. Will you just screw off, Cliff Pennington! Felix hits Seth Smith because Felix is violent. Brendan Ryan catches a Kurt Suzuki fly in shallow right and holds the runners as Root Sports mentions Defensive Runs Saved. Earlier they talked about Ichiro’s BABIP, so perhaps the dark ages are finally ending and sports fans can be fed actual, meaningful information instead of having to hear about nothing but pitcher wins, batting average and microsplits. Mike Carp makes a catch that you wouldn’t normally expect from Mike Carp to end the inning, prompting me to pump my fist and yell. WOOOOOOOO YEAH IT’S 5 IN THE MORNING HELL YEAH SPORTSBALL
4:56 – In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to be nearly this awake at this point. In all honesty I was expecting the game to be low-scoring and tied at this point. Carp, Olivo and Saunders all do bad baseball things as the M’s go down without a whimper.
5:10 – I didn’t write anything down during the bottom of the 7th so here’s the quick summary: Cespedes gets his first big boy hit, Allen butchers a bunt, Felix escapes alive. Some dude named Ryan Cook is pitching now, and Eric Sogard looks so hilarious all the time. Boog does bad baseball things, Figlet does bad baseball things, Ackley flies out to the track. This game is soooooo 1-1.
5:21 – Cliff Pennington and Cliff Lee have the same unusual first name and that is the only thing they have in common. Brendan Ryan throws Pennington out on a sharp grounder to short. I didn’t want to mention Cliff Pennington again but that was the first marvelous Brendan Ryan defensive play of the year, so I felt obliged to point it out. Felix starts Coco Crisp out with three balls, then saves himself with a perfect looking strike and a mellow fly ball to Carp. Felix Felix Felix. Again, fly ball straight to Carp, and that might be the last meaningful Felix pitch we see for weeks. I imagine Sherrill and/or Wilhelmsen will take it from here, but what a spectacular outing for Felix.
5:28 – Grant Balfour is in t0 pitch the top of the ninth and immediately retires Ichiro for the first time this season. It was also the first non-grounder Ichiro has hit all season, which clearly means that whenever Ichiro hits a ground ball he will reach first base and whenever he hits it in the air he will be out. With this new, definitive knowledge I feel that I now understand what Ichiro must do in order to be a winner. Smoak takes it to a 3-2 count after fouling one off his ankle and may or may not have limped a little on his way to first after yet another infield grounder. Montero flies out to the warning track, making him 0-for-4. I dunno guys, it might be time to officially declare him a bust.
5:33 – It’s official: Felix is done after eight beautiful innings. Tom Wilhelmsen is in the game and gets Kurt Suzuki to fly out. I like Wilhelmsen as a “closer of the future” if his ridiculous strike% can carry over from late last season. Mike Carp jumps up into the wall and catches out a long, deep Josh Reddick drive that looked dangerous off the bat. For a big clumsy guy, Carp has looked perfectly acceptable in left at multiple times tonight. Wilhelmsen strikes out Cespedes! And! We’re! Going! To! Extra! Innings! At! Five! Thirty! In! The! Morning!
5:40 – Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour were competing in camp to become the next Athletics closer. Balfour won, despite his name, but he yields to Fuentes for the tenth. Tenth inning, tied 1-to-1, opening day, 5:40. This is getting so goofy as Miguel Olivo grounds out because he sucks. He sucks! Miguel Olivo sucks. I have nothing personal against Miguel Olivo, despite what my ramblings on this site may imply. Condor flies out and holy shit zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
5:51 – According to Twitter the Twins released Joel Zumaya during the commercial break, rudely attempting to drag attention away from this M’s-A’s slugfest. Wilhelmsen is back out to pitch the tenth, and Ackley bobbles a hart-hit chopper and changeups to first base as someoneorother is safe at first. Eric Sogard still has glasses and no hits this season. Bob Melvin has glasses and no hits this season. Miguel Olivo does a good baseball thing, throwing out a stealing Colin Cowgill. Cowgill is a ridiculous name, but Eric Sogard has glasses and is still batting and has a full count staring him in the face. I wonder if Tom Wilhelmsen is the bartender at Mariners team parties. Eric Sogard flies out to deep center, which nobody saw coming, literally nobody, look at that little guy! Tom Wilhelmsen is one of the guys I’m overly excited to watch this season and he just struck out Jemile Weeks on a dirty, disgusting curveball. He’s so good. I think Tom Wilhelmsen has a good chance of developing into something ridiculous.
6:06 – Another weirdo pitcher for the A’s who I have never heard of, and Boog doubles him to center field. Brendan Ryan is another splendid Mariner who I can’t wait to watch all the time. It’s easy to forget that he can be an effective gap hitter as well as a superlative defender and plus baserunner. Figgins lays down an almost-perfect bunt that ends up a perfectly good sacrifice. The Boog is at third and Ackley’s at the plate, looking to do something exciting. Which he does!! Single over the shortstop’s head for his second RBI of the game as the latest strange long-haired reliever thing is removed from the game and surely reprimanded for his failures. Ichiro drives in Ackley with his fourth hit of the game but is caught in a pickle and tagged out by Weeksy, as Bob Melvin probably calls him. Smoak pops out, it’s 3 to 1, and this thing might be a BLT away from done!
6:22 – “Early morning BLT!” says Sims, referring to food. Casper Wells is in for Carp in left, which explains why that ball was caught with such ease. One out! League with a 3-1 count: fastball looking down the middle, swinging flail at a beautiful slider down and in, be seein ya Coco Crisp! Two outs! Seth Smith hits a blazing line drive which threads the gap between League’s face and his mitt, a hit which will surely go down as one of the most dangerous doubles of the season. League strikes out Suzuki swinging in the dirt, Olivo applies the tag, and that’s your ballgame. M’s take it 3-1 in the 11th, it’s 6:22 AM, I have class (the first day, no less) in three and a half hours, and everybody who stayed/got up to watch is dancing in the streets of Seattle right now. Actually that last part is a lie, but I’m sure people are stoked. I certainly am! Goodnight.