Are you ready for some baseball?
The Mariners won all those games. In fact, they’ve won seven straight Opening Day games, the longest current streak in the Majors now that the D-backs had their own seven-year streak snapped by the Dodgers in Australia.
No MLB team has won eight or more Opening Day games in a row since the Reds took nine straight from 1983-91, so this is pretty good stuff. Not coincidentally, Felix Hernandez has started six of those last seven openers, with Erik Bedard getting the other start in 2008.
Felix hasn’t been the winning pitcher every time out, but he’s put the club in position to win every time with a 4-0 record and 1.33 ERA. A great stat — courtesy of the Mariners baseball information folks — Felix will become the first pitcher in MLB history to start seven Opening Day games before he turns 28.
Bert Blyleven, Dennis Eckersley, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden all started six openers before turning 28. Felix doesn’t turn 28 until April 8, so he’ll not only break Randy Johnson’s club record for most Opening Day starts ever tonight, he’ll make some MLB history as well.
This one won’t be easy though, as the Angels counter with a pretty fair pitcher of their own in Jered Weaver, who has won his last three Opening Day decisions and has a 1.93 ERA in five Opening-Day starts.
Felix also has had troubles at times with the Angels in the past. He’s 8-13 with a 3.92 ERA in 35 career starts against the Halos and 2-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 17 starts at Angel Stadium.
Seattle was 2-7 in Anaheim last year and hasn’t won a season series against the Angels since 2003, so getting off to a good start against their AL West rivals would be nice.
Robinson Cano can help. He hit .375 (12-for-32) against Weaver in his career with the Yankees and will now anchor a Mariners lineup that brings a lot of lefties against the lanky right-hander, who is 13-8 with a 3.22 ERA in 27 career starts against Seattle.
Those are the numbers. But Opening Day is about a lot more than numbers. This is the day everyone gets excited, nervous, eager. It’s the start of the long haul, the first step in the 162-game marathon. For some players, like Mariners rookies Stefen Romero and Roenis Elias, it’s the beginning of their Major League dream.
Romero told me how his first thought when he found out he’d made it to the Majors went to his grandfather, who he wished could be here now to see him. You can read that story here. To me, that’s the kind of stuff that makes Opening Day great.
The Mariners have eight players making their first Opening Day appearances in the big leagues tonight. Romero and Elias are putting on a Major League uniform for the first time ever. Six others – Brad Miller, Abraham Almonte, Mike Zunino, James Paxton, Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina – have never been on an Opening Day roster, but came up in mid-season last year.
Miller talked yesterday about his anticipation and you can read that here. Even new skipper Lloyd McClendon talked about the emotion of returning to the manager’s seat and how he and Jim Leyland exchanged emotional text messages yesterday.
It’s all good stuff. It’s all Opening Day emotion. It’s all about getting another season started and seeing where it leads.
First pitch is 7:12 p.m. PT tonight at Angel Stadium. You can watch on ESPN2, ROOT Sports, MLB.TV or in person at Safeco Field, where they’ll show the game live on the big screen.
Or if you’re lucky enough, like me, you’ll be at Angel Stadium. That’s a privilege I don’t take for granted. Opening Days are awesome, for players, coaches, managers, fans and media alike. So let’s get after it.
It’s time to play ball.