Eight games into 2012, what did you expect – better than .500? Below .500?
After four games against the worst team in the American League West (Oakland) and four against the best (Texas), the Seattle Mariners come home 4-4, having lost three of four to the Rangers.
What the Mariners have proven, if only to themselves, is that – on the road – they can play with the big boys and beat up on bad teams. Not a bad start to a season.
Against Texas, Seattle was one first-inning hit away from chasing Yu Darvish, and played pretty well against good pitching. After a first-game blowout, these were close games. That doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t have issues.
The Marienrs have a seven-man bullpen and trust only four of their relievers. George Sherrill has struggled in two appearances, Steve Delabar has allowed four home runs in less than five innings and Hisashi Iwakuma has become The Man Who Shall Not Pitch. As yet, he hasn’t.
Three Seattle regulars - Ichiro, Chone Figgins and Kyle Seager – are hitting better than .300. Miguel Olivo has batted .143 in seven games, Jesus Montero has two RBI and Brendan Ryan is batting .200 and has skipped one game with a stiff neck and been benchd another. Yikes!
In the rotation, there are some concerned with Felix Hernandez and his slowing fastball, and with Hector Noesi’s first start and the fact that Kevin Millwood has no long-term future as a Mariner. Let’s see how Felix does for the next six months – and give the other two more than one start apiece.
Bottom line: The are things that need adjustment (bullpen) and others that need improvement (offense). Facing the Athletics, Indians and White Sox on their first homestand won’t hurt the Mariners a bit.
After nine more games, you may like them more than after the first eight.