Seth Smith is a God among men. At least for the duration of April 6th, 2015 he is. Smith became the first player in Seattle Mariners history to collect three extra base hits on Opening Day (thanks to Ace of MLB Stats). Smith had two doubles and a triple, while driving in two. After Mike Trout took Felix Hernandez yard in the top of the first inning, Smith tied the score with his triple in the bottom of the third, pushing Austin Jackson across the dish. Jackson, by the way, was 2-for-4 with a run scored and some disruptive action on the base paths later in the game to unnerve Jered Weaver. After Smith’s tying RBI, Robinson Cano brought him home to give the M’s their first lead of 2015. Later, in the 5th inning, Smith would plate Brad Miller with a ground-rule double, that, was misplayed by Matt Joyce, who seemed to be avoiding a possible collision with the approaching Trout in left-center.
Smith, who was lifted for Justin Ruggiano later in the game, was not the offseason acquisition I’d given much weight to. Hell, no one did. But for today, he delighted us as a plus move by the front office. I’m pretty sure he won’t be keeping up the pace on a sacrosanct slash line of 1.000/1.000/2.333. If he can keep contributing at a level that can help Mariners fans forget the offensive black hole in right field that was Endy Chavez, I’ll be happy with that.
So, seeing as that the 4G network at Safeco was jammed to near collapsing, my ability to live tweet the game was doomed from first pitch. As a backup option, I just made some game notes from a journalistic fan viewpoint to report instead of just regurgitating the facts that have already been reported a million times by now.
– Brad Miller, who my friend Eddie thinks looks like a young Ted Williams, is still sporting those gorgeous stirrup socks that make you think he’s still in little league or only shops at Big 5. I love ’em. And they clearly help him make some fabulous plays in the field, like the deftly scooped grounder that he turned into a pristine 6-4-3 double play to end the 5th.
– Another friend yelled through the crowd roar that, “I’ll take that kind of offense from my number eight hitter,” in response to Dustin Ackley‘s bomb of a home run to right field leading off the bottom of the 5th. Yeah, if the #8 spot is going to produce, the Mariners might actually be on their way to 90-plus wins. And yes, my Mariners predictions saw that as doubtful. I’m cool with being wrong sometimes, but then again, this is only the first game, so we’ll see. They did look good, though, by doing some things that M’s teams of the last 6-7 years have been miserable at. Hey, a segue to my next note!
– The offense gave Felix a lead, a lead that he could hold and cruise along through the middle of his start with, then hand off to the bullpen. A bullpen that was slighted in comparison to their Kansas City Royals counterparts last year, despite them being almost every bit as good. I’ll get to the bullpen in a moment, though. What is amazing about the offense giving Felix a lead is that for the first couple innings in this situation, most of the crowd was pinching themselves. This had to be a dream, right? I mean, if the offense of the last 8 years would’ve given the King consistent run support, he’d be a 200-game winner already. Am I right? Usually, Felix is his dominant self, but the offense will fail to even score a runner from third with no outs. They’ll sputter until he’s pulled from the game, usually giving him a chance at a no decision. At best, we here in Seattle are used to inconsistent offense since about 2004. Oh, would you look at that? That’s a bit longer than the entirety of King Felix’s career!
– Another thing of note regarding Felix’s game, he was dominant, in case you missed it. I’m aware that nobody outside of Seattle really gives a hoot about the M’s. I get it, but you should pay attention every single time he pitches. Even from the upper deck in right field, he looks filthy. After Trout’s solo homer in the top of the first, Felix shut the lid on the Angels. He struck out Trout twice, swinging, which would happen again when Carson Smith got Trout to go fishing on some high heat in the 8th inning. Felix’s official line was 7 IP, 2H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 Ks. Noice! Clayton Kershaw didn’t even have that good of a day.
(photo cred: Gabriel Bogart)
– And last, but not least, in my wholly scientific approach – I did have a friend there who is a graduate student in chemistry – I think I figured out that the ‘pitch’ clock (for lack of a better name) used to time the inning breaks is actually a bit fast. It appeared, again, through the scientifically proven method of eyeballing it, that for every second ticked away, it was really more like .8 seconds. They really are trying to speed the game of baseball up, huh?