Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez pitched the first complete game in Mariners Opening Day history Friday night. He managed to do it allowing only five hits, no walks and two earned runs.
Hernandez built suspense in the first when he allowed Oakland A's center fielder Coco Crisp a base hit on just his fifth pitch of the game. Tensions mounted in Seattle when A's cleanup man Josh Willingham capitalized on a 95 mph fastball for the first home run of the game and Oakland's first (and only) two runs of the night.
For the rest of the evening, though, Hernandez held the A's to only three hits and capped off his evening with back-to-back strikeouts of Deric Barton (.260 BA) and David DeJesus (.289 BA).
Hernandez was aided in the win by stellar defense from the rest of the Mariners, who completed the nine innings with zero errors.
Seattle fans can also be proud of the Mariners offensive play in Oakland last night. Granted, anything the Mariners do at bat this season is likely to bring joy to their fans; they finished 2010 with the lowest amount of runs scored (513 total) in the AL since 1973. Still, there were some noteworthy plays.
Second baseman Chone Figgins gave himself plenty of opportunity to out-do his home run record from last season (one—on July 28th at CHW) when he hit a solo home run in the sixth, pulling the Mariners into the lead.
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Ichiro Suzuki continued his longstanding dependability with two hits, one RBI, one run and two stolen bases.
Justin Smoak—the Mariners player voted most likely to have a breakout season—hit a very solid double to left center field in the seventh inning, setting designated hitter Jack Cust up for a run on the next play and ending Craig Breslow's relief duties for the night.
On the other hand, Ryan Langerhans, who is standing in at center field while Franklin Gutierrez sits out with stomach problems, failed to impress. He finished the game 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and a pitiful grounder right into the hands of second baseman Mark Ellis. Thankfully, he did better on defense.
Saturday's game will illustrate the Mariners' ability to succeed without Hernandez on the mound as they take on the A's again, this time behind Jason Vargas.