Mariners bring Az offense to Oakland
By Shannon Drayer
Well this is absolutely silly. Oakland traditionally is the only city where I take the team bus back to the hotel after games. The team bus leaves well before the post game show ends so I find other ways back in other cities. Some cities I take cabs, some trains, some walk and some I rent a car. Different methods of transport work in different cities and I never leave the ballpark alone. A colleague always walks out with me for which I am very grateful.
In Oakland it can be impossible to get a cab to come out to the park. Renting a car and parking it in San Francisco is wildly expensive. Getting to the BART at night is not safe so for Oakland night games I cut out of the show a little early and ride back with the team. The one time I do not do that is on Opening Night. On that night I hire a town car which is not much more than what a cab would be if I could get one to come to the stadium. It works once a year when necessary.
Tonight I had a little surprise however. When I walked out the back tunnel to the players’ lot I found a white stretch limo waiting for me. Turns out it is what the driver had on his final run of the night. So now here I am in the back of a giant limo blogging. Note to boss, same price as the car. Riding back to the hotel prom style. I would take pictures but I can’t get the shot with those funny limo roof lights.
Just to give you a heads up, now that the season has begun generally I will not write a game stories after games. While the writers are writing theirs I am on the air so when I do post game posts it will be more news and notes and general impressions. Tonight obviously was a good night.
What we saw with the offense is we saw the in the last four games in Arizona. Can it carry over into the regular season? Well it did for a day. The Mariners led all of MLB in batting average this spring. That doesn’t tell you a lot because different hitters get ready in different ways. What I take from this spring is what we didn’t see. We didn’t see them not hit. While hitting in spring training may not mean a much, not hitting can. If you can’t score runs in Arizona where the ball flies, the sun gives assists and the pitchers are still building up then you most likely are in for trouble during the regular season. A very wise baseball person pointed that out to me two years ago when looking at the Mariners.
So what is different this year? In the simplest terms, the Mariners have hitters. Dustin Ackley is a hitter. Kyle Seager is a hitter. Jesus Montero is a hitter. These guys will hit, they have done it at every level. Justin Smoak should be a hitter. We shall see. Michael Saunders perhaps has stumbled upon what will turn him into a hitter and so far so good. Old Ichiro was a hitter. Can he bounce back? Question marks yes, but for Ackley, Seager and Montero it is only a matter of time before you see what they are expected to be at this level on a consistent basis. For them it is about seeing pitchers and getting some big league time under their belts. When these guys click we are talking about a big upgrade to the Mariners offense from what we have seen in the recent past.
With a team so young with older guys looking to bounce back tonight was a huge positive. Always good to start off with a win. Eric Wedge after the game said it was more than just about winning however, it was how they won the game.
“It was a good, hard baseball game that was tighter than what the score said and I think everyone felt that,” he said. “Throughout those last four innings a number of people had to step up and do a job for us to keep that separation in the ball game and they did.”
Felix on the hill tomorrow and another look at Bartolo Colon. Let’s see what they can do with what they learned the first time out against him in Japan.
Limo is at the hotel so time to wrap this up. I hope no one sees me!