Ichiro Suzuki felt right at home in Tokyo, and for one night, the Seattle Mariners, opening the 2012 MLB season with a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, are the best team in Baseball. Just for one night, before they start their usual decline down the AL West standings, and hope for a better season than the last two.
The Mariners have won less than 70 games in three out of the last four seasons. Ichiro Suzuki, at 37, isn’t the wonder he once was and it seems hard to find any exceptional talent in the State of Washington besides Felix Hernandez, who had a very impressive start to the 2012 season.
Hernandez, who had a 14-14 season in 2011, threw for 8 innings, allowing only 5 hits and one run while striking out six. Tom Wilhelmsen got the win, while Brandon League closed it. Dustin Ackley hit a home run earlier in the game, and his single later on gave the Mariners the lead. He later completed running the bases, driven home by Ichiro.
But it was about Ichiro for most of the night, especially the 44,000 fans. The noise when he was walking up to the plate, the flashes of lights that surrounded the ballpark every time he made his way to yet another at bat. He finished with 4-5 and an RBI, making everyone proud.
Jesus Montero made a disappointing debut for the Mariners as a DH, going 0-4. He was traded for Hector Nesi, Michael Pineda and Jose Campos during the offseason. Another debutant was Yoenis Cespedes, who defected from Cuba in the summer of 2011. Via the Dominican Republic he found his way to Oakland, signing a $36 million, four year contract. He went 1-3, striking out twice.
For Oakland, the other Suzuki, Kurt, was the only one who got some meaningful stats, driving home Cliff Pennington, the only A’s player with a multiple hit game on the day. The big problem for the A’s was taking advantage of scoring opportunities, finishing the days with a 1-14 with runners in scoring positions.