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In the words of another Mariners fan I was talking to, "can they just start the playoffs now?"

For those of you looking for some kind of sign from the gods that this'll be a good season, the last time Seattle won on Opening Day was 2001 (spooky...). For those of you just looking for some satisfying baseball, today was simply a pretty good day. Not in the sense that the Reds and the Rockies had "pretty good" days - the M's game was actually a little boring - but the best teams in baseball make a habit of winning boring games, so that's one thing to take from today.

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

It didn't take very long for Richie Sexson (henceforth "Big Sexy," and there's nothing you can do to stop it) to answer the question about shoulder strength. I think what Dave said on the subject a month and a half ago is pretty much on the money - Sexson will either play at 100% or spend a bunch of time on the DL; the injury probably won't hamper his strength like it did Shawn Green. Well, at least for one day, Sexson played at 100% and sent everyone home with a smile, the kind of smile you see on the faces of people who just escaped near-death experiences. For a guy who "didn't get all of the ball" either time (</broadcasters), Sexson certainly put a charge into those two balls. Made a nifty scoop at first, too. It's been a while since we had a guy who, when he came up to the plate, just felt like he was about to go deep. Bucky doesn't count - I'm talking about a full-time regular, a lineup anchor, who can score runs with one swing of the bat, instead of the three that we're used to needing. Ignoring everything else about him and focusing solely on the games's a nice thing to have.

Four Mariners hitters had multihomer games last year. Ibanez was the first to do it, on April 20th, but four months would pass before Boone would launch two into the seats. That's's...I love home runs.

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

One more Sexson factoid - he's the first player in Mariners history to hit home runs in the first two at bats with the team (nine players had homered in their first AB). Would you believe he's actually better against power pitchers than soft-tossers like Radke?

Determined not to be outdone, but incapable of surpassing Sexson's performance, Adrian Beltre had a pretty good debut, drilling a comebacker to Radke that forced an error and later smacking a single in the third. The holdovers from last year went a combined 2-20 with a run scored and five strikeouts. Thank goodness that $115m went to good use.

There was another new face in the lineup, an unfamiliar shortstop by the name of Wilson Valdez. While it's easy to look at his 0-3 line and jump to conclusions, we should focus on the positive aspects of his performance:

  • He hit three balls past the pitcher

  • Luis Rivas had to make a friggin' incredible play on the first one

  • He didn't make an error

  • Nobody booed him when he was introduced as the hitter

  • He didn't test positive for steroids at any point during the game

  • He wasn't Willie Bloomquist

Seriously, the guy isn't going to hit .300 with gap power; anything we get from his bat is just gravy. Only two weeks 'til Pokey. Only two weeks 'til Pokey...

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

Is it just me, or should it be mandatory that the Pepsi Fan of the Game be wearing at least one article of team apparel? Kids are great and all, but when I see one of them at the ballpark without any visible signs of support for the team, I'm left thinking one thing: no dedication.

Top of the 8th inning, Ron Villone replaces Julio Mateo
Announcer: "And here's Ron Villone, last year's Mariner Pitcher of the Year."
TV, next inning: Shows Guardado's 2003 stats
Me: "That's better."

More dialogue:

Camera pans to the dugout
Announcer: "Here's Greg Dobbs..."
Me: "No..."
Announcer: "...he's a left-handed batter who can swing..."
Me: "No..."
Announcer: "...he'll get into a bunch of games this year."

Miguel Olivo made a nifty play on Shannon Stewart in the third inning, going back behind the plate and catching a foul pop-up that went a row or two back into the seats. Given Olivo's problems with passed balls, I propose that the pitchers begin hurling lobs to the backstop that Miguel has to chase down without a mask. Finding the strike zone might be an issue, but that's Price's problem.

Speaking of defense, Bret Boone booted a fairly easy pop-up for which he had to backpedal. According to some calendars, we still haven't entered a new year following the 2004 season. There's a connection here, somewhere.

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

Dave Henderson: "Dmitri Young had three home runs today."
Rick Rizzs: "Great start."

How famous is Ichiro? Evidently, not famous enough. One one occasion, Dan Gladden, one of Minnesota's broadcasters, called him "REE-chee-oh". News is slow to hit the Midwest.

Brad Radke made one error over the first five years of his career. He's made five in his last six. I was going somewhere with this, but I lost it.

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

Jamie Moyer had a strong start. He threw too many pitches, but he had his big looping curveball working most of the afternoon, and none of the young Twins hitters knew what to do with his changeup. That said, I was concerned when he started off the first four hitters he faced with 2-0 counts; the last thing Moyer needs to do is pitch from behind. However, he got better as the game went along, and he started finding his spots in the middle innings. Absolutely an encouraging start.

If Alfonso Soriano stepped into the box to face Eddie Guardado, and Guardado threw one of those low-and-in sliders, Soriano might kill himself.

Tomorrow night, at 10pm EST, Gil Meche will need to have his best stuff as he goes up against the best pitcher in baseball. Fortunately, Santana's left-handedness will, at the very least, give the right-handed lineup core of Beltre/Sexson/Boone a longer look at the ball as it's being pitched, which could translate into some well-hit balls. You gotta have hope.

Fever Pitch - opens this Friday!

Edit: Yes, I saw Edgar throw out the first pitch, and yes, my eyes welled up a bit. I don't think any more can be said about the guy, so I'll leave it at that.