This afternoon, to our dismay, we saw the Mariners revert back to last year's style of play: low run production, a shaky bullpen and carelessness at the plate.
We should probably admit to ourselves that this is the way the season will progress, but it's easier just to make legitimate excuses that could possibly explain the woes of the Mariners.
We can attribute today's loss to a couple of things. One, an unfavorable pitching matchup. Two, an improvement in the A's' play.
As opposed to the first two pitching matchups, this one heavily favored Oakland.
In the opener, we saw the Cy Young-winning Felix Hernandez against the relatively young, but talented Trevor Cahill. Felix's complete game versus Cahill's early exit demonstrated the lopsidedness of that matchup.
The second game had the potential to be a lot closer, but Jason Vargas looked great, like he did at the end of last season, and while Brett Anderson pitched well, the A's bullpen threw it away.
Today, the Athletics put forth their promising young lefty, Gio Gonzalez, to pitch against Doug Fister of the Mariners. Fister had a rough year last year, winning just six out of 28 games, allowing an average of 4.11 runs per nine innings and striking out just 93 in 171 innings.
This mismatch was quite apparent when Gonzalez went through seven, allowing just one run, and Fister left after 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits.
Additionally, Gonzalez was luckier than his fellow starters in that the A's defense picked it up. No more slipshod throws or unwise decisions, and fewer errors.
Without these advantages, the Mariners had more trouble finding ways to score runs; they had already become accustomed to scoring runs off walks and errors. Without run support, Fister was a lost cause, and the Athletics made quick work.
Seattle's bullpen didn't hold up well either. Some of the new younger guys didn't perform up to their expectations, but let's hope they just need a few appearances to get settled in.
Overall, this was a rough experience for the Mariners, but a necessary one. They need to move on and prepare for a tough series in Texas against the undefeated Rangers.