Lineup: Mariners leading off with Mitch Haniger vs Boston’s Chris Sale

Mar 28, 2019, 1:05 PM | Updated: 4:13 pm

Mariners Mitch Haniger...

Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger hit .314 against left-handed pitching in 2018. (AP)


Chris Sale is brutal on left-handed hitters, so the Mariners are going to make Boston’s southpaw ace face somebody who likes hitting against lefties right out of the box.

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Mitch Haniger will be in Seattle’s leadoff spot for the first time this season in the 2-0 Mariners’ home opener against the World Series champs at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, a game that will air live on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“Sale’s one of the better left-handers in the league. Just thought (it is) an opportunity to put the right-handed batters at the top and see how that works out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said during his pregame media availability. “If somebody’s gotta face Sale for the third time, I’d rather have it be our right-handed bats.”

Haniger, who batted second during Seattle’s two-game sweep of the Oakland A’s last week in Japan, hit .314 with an .889 OPS against left-handed pitching during his All-Star 2018 campaign, although he enters Game 1 against Boston 0 for 5 in his career against Sale.

Following Haniger in the lineup will be new Mariners left fielder Domingo Santana, who hits demonstrably better against lefties. Santana had a .301 average and .817 OPS versus southpaws last year with Milwaukee, compared to .172 and .539 against RHPs.

The presence of Sale on the mound pushes center fielder Mallex Smith, who should be the usual leadoff man for Seattle, down to seventh in the lineup in his Mariners debut, and the right-handed-hitting David Freitas gets the start over the lefty-swinging Omar Narváez at catcher.

Here’s a look at the rest of the lineups for the Mariners and Red Sox.

Mariners (2-0)

Mitch Haniger, RF
Domingo Santana, LF
Edwin Encarnación, DH
Jay Bruce, 1B
Ryon Healy, 3B
Tim Beckham, SS
Mallex Smith, CF
David Freitas, C
Dee Gordon, 2B

Marco Gonzales, LHP

Red Sox (0-0)

Andrew Benintendi, LF
Mookie Betts, RF
Rafael Devers, 3B
J.D. Martinez, DH
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Eduardo Núñez, 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Christian Vazquez, C

Chris Sale, LHP

More on Mariners Opening Day

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Mike Salk celebrates the return of baseball on Mariners Opening Day

Drayer: M’s should score runs, but pitching and defense are questions
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Lineup: Mariners leading off with Mitch Haniger vs Boston’s Chris Sale