This third win in four games for the Mariners against Oakland, an 8-7 victory, wound up far closer than anyone could have envisioned early on.
Seattle led 7-0 in the fourth and 8-2 in the sixth with Felix Hernandez on the mound and Oakland looking ready to roll over and die.
What happened next is a tad worrisome. Hernandez faded fast and the A’s got back into it with a two-run double by Kurt Suzuki and then a three-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes off Steve Delabar in the seventh.
The M’s needed a perfect eighth by Tom Wilhelmsen and then a save in the ninth from Brandon League to escape with the win. Needed some strong defense by Kyle Seager at third base late as well.
Chone Figgins led the barrage with three more hits and Michael Saunders hit his first home run, which turned out to be the margin of victory.
So, some positive signs. But we really won’t have a good feel for this club until it starts to play teams other than the A’s.
Everybody in baseball knows the A’s are not a very good team and they give opponents huge margins for error, which the M’s needed every bit of tonight.
Oakland loaded the bases with none out but managed only one run off Hernandez in the fourth. It seemed like nothing at the time, but now, that missed chance looms as the difference.
The A’s defense also handed the M’s some runs on some non-plays and botched plays.
Not saying the M’s don’t deserve to be 3-1. But they could easily be 2-2 or 1-3 after the first four games.
We will get a better indication of where they are at as new clubs come along to play them. Not necessarily the Rangers, since the M’s appear heavily outgunned on the pitching side going into Texas.
But the A’s just allowed the M’s too big a comfort zone in this two-game weekend set to have expected anything but a pair of Seattle victories.
So, while I’m encouraged by what the offense did here, the M’s will still have to raise their level of play a bit because not every team will hand them games the way the A’s tried to do here early on tonight.
On the results side, a 3-1 start is about the best the M’s could have expected to start the year. Their play has been sporadic at times, but in pro sports, it’s winning that ultimately counts and they indeed have won 75 percent of the first four contests.
We’ll see what happens from here.