It was a very strong pitching performance from Felix Hernandez, but it would have all been for nothing if it wasn’t for a late scoring run from the Seattle Mariners, beating the Los Angeles Angels 10-3 with six runs in the ninth inning coming from a Justin Smoak home run and Dustin Ackley crucial triple.
The Mariners actually hit two triples in the game, scoring through both of them. The first came in the 7th inning to tie the game at 3-3 with Mike Zunino helping Ackley reach home plate, and the second one coming off Ackley’s bat in the ninth inning to cement the big win at Anaheim, bringing in home Logan Morrison, Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders.
Abraham Almonte hitting a double in the 7th inning to break the tie and give the Mariners their first lead of the game (4-3) was probably the most important of the hits through the day, but obviously it wasn’t as impressive as the home runs or seeing the double triple happening.
Hernandez wasn’t flawless in the six innings he played in, but was impressive with 11 strikeouts, which happen to be 4th-most in an Opening Day start in team history. He did allow that Mike Trout home run in the first inning giving the Angels a 2-0 lead, but allowed only four hits through his entire performance, and the offense picked up from when he left off, as the four relievers to come on for him allowed only two hits in the remaining three innings, including a perfect ninth from Danny Farquhar.
The Angels were only 6-of-34 at the plate, with newcomers like David Freese and Raul Ibanez combining for a poor 0-of-8. Trout was the only player with multiple hits, while both Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols connected cleanly with a pitch once, including an RBI for Pujols. It was a rough day for Angels on the mound, as Jered Weaver allowed six hits in his 6.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out “only” six. The real collapse came with Kevin Jepsen on the mound, not completing a full inning as he allowed three hits and five runs before leaving with a 67.50 ERA to carry with into the next game.
As for other debutants, Robinson Cano reached base on three of five occasions, including 2-of-4 and one walk. DH Morrison was 1-of-3 at the plate but walked twice, as the Mariners reached base on .409 of their at-bats during the game, including 10 hits, with three coming off of Smoak’s bat.
Two teams with plenty of expectations and money invested in new players taking the field brought some quality hitting mostly on one side of the ball. The Angles might finally start showing up on all the money they’ve spent on big hitters the last couple of years, but not having a pitcher like Hernandez at the plate might have made most of the difference.
You’ve just got to make good pitches, and we’re going to be OK this season. I can feel that. I made a couple of mistakes, but I felt really confident with these guys. he bullpen did a fantastic job, and the offense did a great job grinding out at-bats.