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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

March 28, 2012 at 6:17 AM

10 sleepy observations after Mariners’ 3-1 victory in 11 innings

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(Dustin Ackley is congratulated by Ichiro after his fourth-inning homer off Brandon McCarthy. Photo by Associated Press).

1, I’m sure Felix Hernandez is genuinely happy for the Mariner victory, but he has to be saying, “Here we go again.” He pitched an absolute gem — eight innings, five hits, six strikeouts, no walks, and just one run allowed — and got a no-decision. I think we’ve seen that movie a few times.

2, Speaking of which…the Mariners have high hopes for an improved offense, but this wasn’t quite it. For 10 innings, they were limited to just six hits (two of them of the infield variety by Ichiro.) But they did come through in the 11th against Oakland reliever Andrew Carignan to break the 1-1 tie on a double by Brendan Ryan, a perfect sacrifice by Chone Figgins (who also had a single in the game), and a clutch single by Dustin Ackley, who had homered earlier in the game and did absolutely nothing to dissuade the sense that he’s poised for a huge year. Ichiro added an insurance RBI on his fourth hit.

3, Four hits for Ichiro — that’s worthy of its own item. No one expected him to be a prototypical No. 3 hitter, and sure enough, his first two hits were classic Ichiro infield singles. But he followed with two solid line drives up the middle, to the delight of the Japanese crowd. I wrote yesterday that I expect a big comeback season for Ichiro, who had his pride wounded last year. This is a strong start in that direction.

4, Dustin Ackley is now on pace for 162 homers and 324 RBIs. Lame joke, but it’s not Opening Day if someone doesn’t make that crack. I’m happy to take one for the team.

5, The Mariners’ bullpen is a bit of a concern this year, but they got two solid innings from winning pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen (who survived a leadoff error by Ackley in the 10th, aided by Miguel Olivo gunning down pinch-runner Collin Cowgill attempting to steal), and strong>Brandon League, who earned the save. He’s on pace for 162, by the way.

6, The Mariners had the lowest team batting average in the majors last year at .233. Their team average after one game? .231.

7, One game is way, way too soon to jump to any conclusions. But Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Mike Carp, three key batters in the Mariners’ lineup, were a combined 0-for-13.

8, I thought the folks at ROOT Sports put together a solid broadcast, considering Dave Sims and Mike Blowers were in Bellevue, and the game was in Tokyo. You pretty much forgot that fact as the game progressed, which is a tribute to how seamlessly the production was accomplished.

9, Got to admit, I had a blast watching the game along with the Mariner community on Twitter. Everyone else in my house is asleep, but I felt like I was at a viewing party. Not sure how we survived in the pre-tweet world.

10, Man, it’s time to wake up the kids for school. Where did this night go? (In case you missed my live game thread — and I’m just about everybody did — here it is).

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