MINNEAPOLIS – There was something for everyone to pick and choose from in a tense and terrifying opening day, first delayed by the lockdown and then inclement weather and finally delivering a wall of constant tension.
There was much to worry about Friday among Mariners fans, and skeptics can point to warning signs that predict trouble ahead. Ah, but the streamers had the last laugh—one that stuck in their collective throat as a potential walk-off home run of Gary Sanchez hurled toward the left-field fence.
It was, as manager Scott Servais said with a relieved joy on his face, a game the Mariners had seen before, and would often revisit. In other words, by the end in doubt, with a one-run lead hanging in the balance, his bullpen ensured that Robbie Ray’s scintillating debut was not for naught.
If you want to win this 2-1 Seattle victory at Target Field—and it’s become an art form with a team that’s been in the middle of playoff appearances for two decades—you’re sure to have a lot of scoring opportunities. May point to the Mariners’ inability to capitalize. They had just five hits, 10 runners left on base, and were 0-for-8 with the runners in the scoring positions – ominous echoes of their offensive woes last year.
But you might also be encouraged by the fact that the Mariners had a steady stream of base runners, which is a sign of what they believe will be a much deeper lineup. And knocking on the doors of relievers Paul Seewald and Drew Steckenraider, who hope to believe popular wisdom, the Mariner bullpen is ripe for a regression after carrying an extraordinary number of one-run wins last year.
Mitch Hanniger, who had left spring training by his own admission, still searching to find his swing, saw the second pitch to the wall of the left field for a two-run first-innings home run. When the Twins took a 2-1 lead in the fourth, Hanniger told himself, “We’re probably going to win 2-1 because of how last year was. It was a lot of confidence.”
He did just that, behind the start introduced by Ray, which didn’t just set the tone; It adjusted treble and bass.
“I mean, he’s a Cy Young winner,” Winker said. “He’s a No. 1. He’s an ace. And he’s a gamer.”
Ray was quick from the start – first innings of eight pitches, all eight strikes – and prepared himself through just seven innings. When Servais considered taking Ray out after six, he was struck by the determination in Ray’s eyes. “Okay, you got three hitters,” Servais told the 2021 Cy Young Award winner. Ray quickly found all three.
“Robby sets the tone, I think, in everything he does,” Servais said. “He’s just wired like this. He wants to be up front. He’s going to be super aggressive. It’s fun to watch, and it’s such a warm feeling, I think that’s the best way to put it.” When you know he’s there.”
Servais is preparing himself for several more conversations — or subtly exposed to muted cues — when Rey is trying to plead his case to escalate his debut. Ray said he is constitutionally prepared to go as long as possible, and that such appeal “comes from a place of love, and understanding that we are both men and that it is a decision that we both have to make.” is.”
All Friday’s good vibes would have been for naught if Sanchez had driven Steckenraider into the ninth with two outs to clear the wall for a two-run homer. Sanchez’s body language indicated that he definitely thought he had. In right field, Hanniger said he had no idea whether the ball would be caught – the swirling wind was wreaking havoc with fly balls throughout the game. The winker supports the wall and is ready to jump as high as he can to keep it in the yard. It turned out that no jump was necessary as the ball fell into Winker’s glove as he approached the wall.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I knew right off the bat it would (stay in the ballpark),” Winker said. “It happened really quickly. And I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ I just wanted to go back and find the wall. I was preparing to jump. And then sat down to jump. And then I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t need to jump.'”
Servais said that when Winker caught the ball in the dugout, “everyone sighed at the same time”.
“I’m like, I think we’re fine here, but we’re going to play some crazy baseball games this year,” Servais said.
It was a day that began with the news that JT Crawford had signed a five-year, $51 million contract that buys Crawford’s first two years of free agency. The Mariners see Crawford as a foundational piece, one of their main players they are counting on to build a bright future.
As the Mariners began the day, general manager Jerry Dipoto said, “It’s as excited as I’ve ever been for the start of the season. This is the team we envisioned, and I don’t think so.” This is the best team we have ever had. From here we will continue to grow every day.”
The Mariners certainly showed on Friday they have room for growth, but the lesson was wrapped up in a win that left the clubhouse in an upbeat mood. Cervais said that when Julio Rodriguez started his major league career with three weak batsmen in his final plate appearance and quickly lined up in right field, he told the manager in the dugout, “I’m headed in the right direction.” Am.”
“I’ve never told a player that,” Servais said with a laugh.
Meet your 2022 Mariners – a work in progress, but headed in the right direction.