It was an interesting road swing for the Mariners, as they finished 3-4 after splitting in Oakland and losing two out of three against the White Sox. Finishing around .500 on a road trip can be seen as a success for some teams, but one has to believe that the M's were disappointed especially after a 4-3 loss in extra innings against Chicago on Sunday.
Let's take a look at the positives and negatives from last week, and what to expect this week for the Mariners.
Positives From Week 1
Manager Eric Wedge was able to take away some positives from the trip, including two strong starts from Hisashi Iwakuma; who has settled in to the number two spot in the rotation nicely after a strong finish to last season.
King Felix was his normal self in the season opener against Oakland, but wasn't as strong in his second outing against the White Sox in which he was handed his first loss on the young season.
The trio of Stephen Pryor, Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush helped carry the Mariners bullpen this week, as the three combined for 7.2 IP, no hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
Mike Morse provided all the fireworks the Mariners needed for the first week, hitting a team leading five home runs in the first seven games of the season.
Franklin Gutierrez also started strong for the Mariners, batting .304 with two homers while offering his gold glove caliber services in the outfield. Brendan Ryan was a pleasant surprise early, showing a much improved approach at the plate resulting in a .294/.400/.694 line.
Negatives From Week 1
Outside of Felix and Iwakuma, the rest of the Mariners rotation really struggled to find its way this week. Joe Saunders struggled mightily with his control which resulted in the Mariners first loss of the season. Brandon Maurer got to experience his first taste of the big leagues, and was welcomed rudely by an aggressive Oakland A's offense.
Maurer did make it through six innings, but not before allowing six earned runs and a pair of long balls. Blake Beavan earned a no-decision in the opener against the White Sox, but allowed five earned runs in five innings pitched.
How Worried Are You About Dustin Ackley's Start?
The bullpen had its moments as well, as Mariners fans were wondering who the long relief candidate was in the bullpen when Saunders was chased early against Oakland. That man turned out to be Kameron Loe, who allowed two home runs in his first appearance against Oakland, and the walk-off home run against the White Sox on Sunday. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen was also a little shaky, walking four batters over two innings pitched last week.
Dustin Ackley was the biggest disappointment last week, finishing a meek 1-for-20. Raul Ibanez joined Ackley in the one-hit club, as he finished the week 1-for-11 with a double. Perhaps equally as disappointing were the performances of Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak. Both Smoak and Montero had very strong springs, but struggled last week going a combined 8-for-43 with no extra-base hits and eight strikeouts.
What To Look For Week 2
The biggest thing Mariners fans will be looking forward to this week is the debut of the new dimensions at Safeco Field. With new shorter fences, it'll be interesting to see how the offense of the Mariners will respond. Mariners fans have become accustom to anemic offenses over the last decade, and part of that can be attributed to the tough dimensions at Safeco.
On the other end of the spectrum, fans will have to see how the shorter dimensions will affect contact pitchers like Joe Saunders who now have a little less room to work with. Many thought the Mariners took that into consideration when trading Jason Vargas away to the Angles this offseason, so Saunders will have to hope the fences don't play as big a factor as some people may think they will.
The Mariners will also be getting their first look at new division "rivals," the Houston Astros. The Astros aren't the most talented team in the American League, or any league for that matter, but anyone who watched Justin Maxwell and Bud Norris clown the Texas Rangers on opening night will tell you that they still can not be taken lightly.
Monday will also mark the return of Phillip Humber, who just so happened to throw a perfect game the last time he pitched in Safeco. Also keep an eye out for the return of ex-Mariner Erik Bedard, who is scheduled to start game two of the series.
Seattle will also get its first crack at the Texas Rangers this season to end the week. The highlight of this series may come Friday night, as fellow countrymen Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma are scheduled to start.
Iwakuma has continued his impressive finish to last season with a pair of strong starts against Oakland and Chicago, while Darvish has been absolutely brilliant for the Rangers early this season. Remember, Darvish came one out away from a perfect game in Houston, so expect a lot of zeros on both sides on Friday night.
Projected Pitching Matchups for Week 2
Monday, April 8 - SEA (Saunders 0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. HOU (Humber 0-1, 1.59 ERA)
Tuesday, April 9 - SEA (Maurer 0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. HOU (Bedard 0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Wednesday, April 10 - SEA (Beavan 0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. HOU (Peacock 0-1, 4.15 ERA)
Thursday, April 11 - SEA (Hernandez 1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. TEX (Harrison 0-2, 8.44 ERA)
Friday, April 12 - SEA (Iwakuma 1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. TEX (Darvish 2-0, 1.98 ERA)
Saturday, April 13 - SEA (Saunders 0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. TEX (Ogando, 1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sunday, April 14 - SEA (Maurer 0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. TEX (Undetermined)