The Seattle Mariners need to learn from their mistakes as they prepare for their 2011 home opener. After being swept by the Texas Rangers, they sit at 2-4 and in third place in the AL West, which is shaping up to be a difficult division.
The Rangers have the hottest bats in baseball, so for Seattle's pitching to hold them to an average of 5.7 runs per game was pretty good. Boston pitchers allowed 8.7 runs per game in their three-game series with the Rangers, and the Red Sox are AL East favorites.
Erik Bedard looked great for his first start in more than a year. He had good control of his pitches and they were effective for the most part.
Rookie Michael Pineda had an impressive start. Giving up just three runs to the stacked Rangers' batting order in six innings is pretty good. His pitches were crisp and we can expect a lot out of him as the year progresses.
King Felix even struggled with the hot hitters in Texas, letting in two runs over seven innings on six hits and three walks. Texas will inevitably cool down soon, though, and Mariner pitchers will have stronger starts.
The Mariners head back to Seattle for a day of rest and then a 10:10 p.m. EST matchup against the Cleveland Indians. The starters will certainly enjoy being back home at SAFECO, one of the biggest pitcher's parks in the country, where they can settle down and work later into games.
How will the Mariners finish their first homestand of the season?
Friday, April 8
Jason Vargas (0-0, 1.35 ERA) vs.Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 9.45 ERA)
Jason Vargas threw an awesome first game against the Oakland A's, going 6.2 innings while allowing just one run. Vargas looks to solidify his second spot in the rotation behind the King. Carlos Carrasco had a shaky first start, giving up seven runs. The Mariners will look for a way to get their bats on the ball and give Vargas some support.
Saturday, April 9
Doug Fister (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Justin Masterson (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
Doug Fister looks to improve upon his last start at SAFECO Field, where he historically pitches much better. He'll be up against Justin Masterson of the Indians, who had a quality first start, allowing just one run through seven, although he didn't have any strikeouts. Strikeouts have been plaguing the Mariners, so a few innings exempt from K's will definitely benefit Seattle's hitting.
Sunday, April 10
Erik Bedard (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
Erik Bedard looks to redeem himself in just his second start since the turn of the decade. Josh Tomlin looked good in his last start, holding the powerful Red Sox lineup to just one run through seven innings. This should shape up to be an intense pitching duel.
Monday, April 11
Michael Pineda (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jesse Litsch (0-0, 0.0 ERA)
Michael Pineda also looks to prove himself in the second start of his rookie season. He showed good potential against the Rangers, and he'll get a little bit of a break at SAFECO against the weaker Blue Jays lineup. Jesse Litsch will make his first start of the season.
Tuesday, April 12
Felix Hernandez (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Ricky Romero (1-0, 1.42 ERA)
The King has had two quality outings thus far, and there's no reason he can't continue. He'll have an easier job against a less potent Blue Jays offense and in his home park. Ricky Romero has also been looking strong.
Wednesday, April 13
Jason Vargas (1-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. Kyle Drabek (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
Kyle Drabek looked great in his first start. This will be another good matchup of young pitchers. It will depend on how each team is hitting. Hopefully, with the predicted three-game winning streak coming in, the M's will have some momentum to back Vargas up. Otherwise, it seems like Drabek might win this duel.
A projected 4-2 homestand would be a nice recovery from the sweep in Texas and would please the SAFECO crowd, an important part of the season. Mariners' fans have been ridiculously loyal, even when they probably shouldn't be.
Whenever I see a game on TV (unfortunately, I live in Virginia), there's usually a pretty full crowd. Some rewarded faith would be a great morale booster.
Feel free to add your thoughts about the matchups in the comments section; I haven't considered a lot of the variables that go into any given game.