Well, here we are – opening day in Japan, A’s and Mariners.
I snuck in a nap in around normal dinner time, and I’m hoping to make it through all nine innings tonight.
This game is televised on ROOT and broadcast on 710 AM in Seattle.
The telecast is going to be weird. Announcers Dave Sims and Mike Blowers are not in Japan – they will be broadcasting from a studio in Bellevue, while watching the video from a Japanese sports channel. Larry Stone wrote about how strange this TV broadcast is going to be – from a production standpoint.
On the roster front, the Mariners had to trim the roster to 25 active players from a 28-man “provisional roster” for these two games. They made two starting pitchers that they will not need in Japan inactive – Hector Noesi and Kevin Millwood - plus long reliever Hisashi Iwakuma, who is unavailable after being used as a starter in Monday’s exhibition game.
The upshot of all of the latest moves: Carlos Peguero, Guillermo Quiroz, and Chance Ruffin were sent to Tacoma and figure to be on the Rainiers roster for next Thursday’s home opener. Alex Liddi, Erasmo Ramirez, Charlie Furbush, Steve Delabar and Lucas Luetge make the Mariners active roster for the two games against Oakland, but all four will be anxious when it comes time for the Mariners to activate the three “inactive” pitchers on the provisional roster.
Confusing this year, huh? I’m just figuring all of this out as we go along.
As another part of all of that: the Rainiers will arrive in Tacoma on Monday to get settled and work out at Cheney prior to Thursday’s home opener - but I am hearing only a portion of the team will actually be sent to town that day, because the Mariners will need extra players in Arizona for the Cactus League games that they will play when they return from Japan. We could have 15-20 players show up on Monday, with the remaining Rainiers arriving in Tacoma on game day for Thursday’s opener.
All of this maneuvering could result in the Rainiers opening day roster not being announced until opening day itself.
- For the Mariners opener, The News Tribune put together brief bios on every member of the Mariners opening day roster. You can check it out right here.
- Earlier today, Oakland A’s beat writer Susan Slusser pointed out that the A’s are the home team for both games in Japan, but the fans will be pulling for the Mariners.
- Greg Johns has a health update on injured Mariners Franklin Gutierrez and Adam Moore. The news on Moore is particularly encouraging – it sounds like he might be able to play in the PCL opener.
All right, the stage is set, let’s get to the live blog and then the game!
1:36 AM – Just posted this first entry, and quickly perused the Mariners Opening Night Game Notes. Did you know that the Mariners have won five straight season openers? Winning streak!
1:40 AM – best entry in the M’s game notes, quoted:
THANKS TOM: Tom Verducci (SI.com) points out that after this Japan trip “…Seattle goes to Arizona to play five more spring training games, then leaves for three games in Oakland and then three more in Texas. That’s a 19-game, 22-day, 14-time zone trip. The Mariners finally get to Seattle for their home opener April 13 — two months and two days after their first spring training workout.”
1:57 AM – let’s do another quote, because that last one was fun (and easy)… Jeff Sullivan sums up exactly what we don’t know about the 2012 Mariners:
We know what to expect from this team. And what we’ll expect from this team is anywhere from like 60 to 90 wins. Look around the roster. Who knows? There’s upside almost everywhere, and there’s downside almost everywhere.
It’s so true!
2:25 AM – Root is not helping us stay awake by showing soccer before the Mariners pre-game show. I’m starting to feel drowsy…
2:47 AM – it just occurred to me that the East Coast finally has a superior sports viewing time than us on the West Coast. I’ve often wondered how sports fans survive on the East Coast – no football until 1:00, many of the good games start at 10:00 PM…
3:03 AM – we have live TV from Japan. That’s an ugly dome. Blowers says its a launching pad – he played there.
3:09 AM – Chone Figgins bounces out to shortstop on the second pitch of the game – and this season is underway.
3:16 AM – After an Ichiro infield single, Justin Smoak K’s and the M’s don’t score in the first. Mariners pounding the ball into the turf against the sinkers of Brandon McCarthy.
This series is clearly about Ichiro – flashbulbs were going off throughout his at-bat, and the crowed roared when he tried to steal (Smoak fouled off the pitch).
3:25 AM – Seth Smith just yanked a foul ball into an on-field patio down the right field line. It reminded me of that beer garden they used to have at PGE Park in Portland.
3:26 AM – So long, Seth Smith. Felix has his first strikeout of the new season.
3:37 AM – in his first MLB at-bat, Yoenis Cespedes has no chance against Felix. Just waving at breaking stuff. Felix has 3 K’s through two innings, and it’s 0-0.
3:38 AM – cracking open my first beer. I haven’t had a beer at this hour since college (obv. not counting Vegas).
3:45 AM – Michael Saunders lashes a single to right, steals second, and then makes a baserunning mistake getting thrown out at third on a grounder to the backhand side of the shortstop. At least he smoked that single!
3:48 AM – former Reno Aces longball masher Brandon Allen is starting at first base for Oakland. There is no Felix in the PCL – Allen K’s swinging at the high heat.
3:55 AM - we have our first run of the season, on a Dustin Ackley home run just to the right of center field. McCarthy left a fastball up and Ackley crushed it.
4:01 AM – Dustin Ackley leads all of Major League Baseball in home runs.
4:04 AM – Dustin Ackley is on pace to hit 162 home runs this season, which I believe would be a record.
4:08 AM – A’s tie it up, 1-1. Cliff Pennington hit a leadoff double, and Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out RBI double to left. Both balls were hit hard – Carp attempted a diving catch of Suzuki’s and almost got it. It was a good risk to make the diving attempt with two outs, he just couldn’t get it.
4:12 AM – ex-Rainiers catcher Miguel Olivo: still Runs Well For A Catcher. Dude must have bionic knees.
4:23 AM – Felix picks up a couple more strikeouts in the fifth – although he did hit Cespedes with a pitch that he appeared to be swinging at. Greg Johns – who is in Japan – reports that Felix hit 143 on the stadium radar gun. That’s 143 kilometers per hour.
4:35 AM – Figgins and Ichiro single in the sixth, but the M’s leave them stranded. Ichiro is 3-for-3 and I’m beginning to think he might go 8-for-8 in Japan.
4:49 AM – Felix works out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, with Mike Carp helping out with solid defense in left field. Still 1-1.
4:50 AM – we need to score a bunch of runs. I’m starting to fade…
4:59 AM – Yoenis Cespedes rips a curve for a double for his first MLB hit. From the broadcast, it sounds like his name is pronounced 17 different ways (and counting).
5:03 AM – just to clarify, I have no idea how to pronounce Yoenis Cespedes myself. I’m trying to learn…
5:17 AM – we’re through eight innings and it’s still 1-1. Felix is right around 105 pitches and I suspect he might be done for the day.
5:27 AM – Mariners go to the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 1-1. It’s Tom Wilhelmsen in this situation, which is kind of amazing if you think about it. The Mariners have very little bullpen experience.
5:32 AM – thanks to another great grab by Mike Carp in left field, we are going to extra innings at 1-1. It’s a baseball tradition: getaway days and games that start at 3:00 AM always go to extra innings.
5:38 AM – former Rainiers LHP Brian Fuentes comes in for Oakland, and works a scoreless top of the tenth. The Mariners have not had a hit since the sixth inning – which sounds like a stat from last year.
5:50 AM – Wilhelmsen with an impressive outing, two scoreless frames. That was a nasty fastball to punch out Weeks. We go to the 11th tied 1-1.
5:57 AM – What a turn of events for the Mariners. Oakland brings in a green rookie to pitch the top of the 11th – and after three straight fastballs to leadoff man Brendan Ryan, he hangs a slider and Ryan crushes it for a double. Figgins has a good AB, with a sac bunt – but he was trying to work a walk from the rookie first, only getting the bunt down once he saw a strike. Then Dustin Ackley strokes a fastball into center for an RBI single, and the Mariners lead 2-1.
5:59 AM – apparently Ichiro supports Kirin Beer. Don’t believe I’ve ever tried that – I think Sapporo is the only Japanese beer I’ve ever had.
6:00 AM – if Jerry Blevins was available, why didn’t they bring him in to face Ackley?
6:06 AM – Ackley swipes second, and Ichiro’s fourth hit of the game scores him to make it 3-1. It’s Brandon League time!
6:14 AM – Brandon League gets it done – the Mariners win, and I get to go to bed!
Now the M’s go for a sweep tonorrow – and we get an hour break; the game starts at two instead of three.