BY SPNW Staff 03:24PM 03/27/2012

#1: Mariners Launch 2012 Vs. Athletics In Tokyo

The Mariners, 67-95 in 2011, launch 2012 at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, taking on AL West rival Oakland in a two-game series. The Mariners open at home April 13.

Felix Hernandez, 14-14 last year, will make his fifth Opening Day start for the Mariners Wednesday against the Oakland A's, a team he went 3-0 against last season. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

GAME: Mariners (67-94, 4th AL West, -29.0 GB) at Athletics (74-88, 3rd AL West, – 22.0 GB). GAME #: 1. SERIES: 1st of 2 games. MEETING (2012): 1st. WHEN: Wednesday, 3:10 a.m. (PT), Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan. PROBABLE PITCHERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (Seattle, 14-4) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (Oakland, 9-9). STREAKS: Opening Day. TV: ROOT Sports, MLB TV. RADIO: KIRO 710 (Seattle), Mariners Radio Network).

Outscored 14-4 by the Hanshin Tigers (3-1) and Yomiuri Giants (9-3) in two exhibition mismatches in the Tokyo Dome, the Mariners will hand the ball to staff ace Felix Hernandez Wednesday in what will be the first of two Seattle chances to avoid going 0-for-Japan.

The Mariners and Oakland A’s launch their 2012 regular seasons with Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young winner who went 14-14, 3.47 last year, contesting RHP Brandon McCarthy, who went 9-9, 3.32.

The Mariners and A’s are playing the first of two under the Tokyo Dome. Following the series, the Mariners will return to their Peoria, AZ., spring training headquarters and finish Cactus League play with five exhibition games. Seattle and Oakland resume their regular-season schedules Friday, April 6, in Oakland.

Eric Wedge

Following that two-game series with the Athletics, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Mariners play four on the road at Texas before their April 13 home opener, also against the Athletics.

The Mariners are coming off a 67-95 2011 season (last, AL West) in which their longest winning streak was six games (May 18-23) and their longest losing streak 17 (July 6-26).

The Mariners finished last in just about every major offensive category last season. The A’s went 74-88 in 2011 (3rd, AL West). Oakland is managed by Bob Melvin, who skippered the Mariners in 2003-04.

This marks the first of 19 games between the Mariners and Athletics in 2012. Seattle and Oakland also met 19 times in 2011, the Mariners winning 10, the A’s 9. The Athletics, however, outscored the plate-challenged Mariners in the season series 71 runs to 56.

The Mariners and A’s have met three times so far in spring training. The Mariners won 8-5 (March 8), lost 9-2 (March 3), and lost 6-1 (March 16).

The Mariners and Athletics had been scheduled to open the 2003 season in Japan, but the trip was cancelled the day after war broke out in Iraq.

OPENING DAY NOTES

  • Mariners are 20-15 in season openers, including a current five-game, Opening Day winning streak.
  • Mariners have won 6 of past 7 openers, prior to which they had lost 6 of 7.
  • Mariners are 5-5 in season openers on the road (this is an official road game) and 5-3 in openers vs. Oakland, after winning the past three.
  • This will be the fourth consecutive “night” opener for Seattle; Mariners are 17-9 in night openers.

TODAY’S PROBABLE PITCHERS

MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (14-14, 3.47)

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez opened last year with a 5-hit, 6-2, complete-game effort against the Oakland A’s, and went on to post 14 wins. But he ended the season sourly, losing his final three, one to the Yankees and a pair to Texas (he also lost his last spring training start — badly).

The Mariners posted a 17-16 record in Hernandez’s 33 appearances, largely because they scored an average of just 3.27 runs when he started.

Hernandez is 85-67 in his seven-year Seattle career (debut Aug. 4, 2005). His 85 wins rank third in franchise history behind Jamie Moyer (145) and Randy Johnson (130).

This will mark Hernandez’s fifth Opening Day assignment. He went 3-0 with a no-decision in his first four with a 1.70 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

  • LAST START (March 21): Shelled for seven earned runs on 10 hits in a 13-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox March 21 in Seattle’s final Cactus game before the Mariners departed for Japan.
  • CAREER VS. A’S: Hernandez is 12-4, 1.54 in 21 appearances, all starts, over 145.1 IP . . . Has tossed three complete games vs. Oakland . . . Has averaged 8.8 K’s per 9 IP, but has been dinged for 12 home runs.
  • 2011 VS. A’S: Went 3-0 in 4 starts (31.0 IP) with one complete game, 18 hits allowed, including 3 home runs and a strikes-to-walks ratio of 5.33 (32 strikeouts, 6 walks) . . . Last defeated Oakland Aug. 2, 2011, scoring a 4-2 win at Safeco Field for his 10th win of the year. Worked a modest 6.1 innings, allowing 5 hits.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Coco Crisp (.161 BA, 7 K’s), Jonny Gomes (.222 BA, .273 OBP), Cliff Pennington (.250 BA, .280 OBP, 7 K’s).
  • HATES TO FACE: Kurt Suzuki (.308 BA, .400 OBP. 3 RBI, 3 BB).

HERNANDEZ NOTES

  • Fernandez is 46-31 with a 2.73 ERA and 671 strikeouts in 101 starts since 2009. Over that span, he has the lowest ERA and most quality starts (81) of any AL pitcher, and the second-most strikeouts (Justin Verlander).
  • In 2011, led the AL with seven double-digit strikeout performances, registering career-high 13 at San Diego May 22.
  • Had three 2011 starts with 10+ strikeouts and no walks (no other major league pitcher had more than one such start).
  • Has 16 career games with double figures in strikeouts, third most in franchise history behind Randy Johnson (94) and Mark Langston (28).

ATHLETICS: RHP Brandon McCarthy (9-9, 3.32)

Brandon McCarthy

Manager Bob Melvin (former Mariners skipper) made the announcement Feb. 28 that McCarthy would be his Opening Day starter, saying McCarthy was an easy choice based on last year’s results and trades that left the team without All-Stars Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill.

McCarthy had career highs in wins, starts, complete games, innings pitched and strikeouts in 2011.

He made 25 starts, and had 123 strikeouts in 170.2 IP. McCarthy also recorded a 4.92- to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the highest by an A’s pitcher since 1901; walked 25 batters.

  • LAST START: Not sharp against a split-squad Cubs lineup last Tuesday, allowing four runs — two earned — on five hits and three walks over four innings of work. Excuse: was apparently dealing with a fingernail issue.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: 2-5, 4.20 ERA in 11 games, including 9 starts, spanning 60.0 IP . . .Has pitched 3 complete games with one shutout . . . Has allowed 12 HRs to Seattle batters and averages 7.7 K’s per 9.
  • 2011 VS. MARINERS: Went 1-3 with a 1.99 ERA in four games, all starts . . . Whiffed 7.7 Mariners per nine innings pitched . . . Last pitched against Seattle Sept. 26, 2011 at Safeco Field, taking a 4-2 loss in a game in which he worked 8.0 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. . . . Last defeated Seattle Sept. 3, 2011, scoring a complete-game, 3-0 shutout with 10 K’s among his 114 pitches.
  • LOVES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (.182 BA, .182 OBP, 2 K’s, 0 BBs), Justin Smoak (.222 BA, .300 OBP, 3 K’s), Ichiro (.241 BA, .267 OBP, 5 K’s).
  • HATES TO FACE: Chone Figgins (.385 BA, .467 OBP, .851 OPS), Miguel Olivo (.333 BA, 1.333 OPS).

PROJECTED BATTING ORDER

Seattle Pos. BA Order Oakland Pos. BA
Chone Figgins 3B .188 1 Jemile Weeks 2B .303
Dustin Ackley 2B .273 2 Cliff Pennington SS .264
Ichiro Suzuki RF .272 3 Coco Crisp LF .264
Justin Smoak 1B .234 4 Seth Smith DH .284
Jesus Montero DH .328 5 Yoenis Cespedes CF R
Mike Carp LF .276 6 Josh Reddick RF .280
Miguel Olivo C .224 7 Kurt Suzuki C .237
Michael Saunders CF .149 8 Brandon Allen 1B .205
Brendan Ryan SS .248 9 Josh Donaldson 3B .156

JAPAN SERIES

  • Hanshin Tigers 5, Mariners 1 (March 24): After clobbering the ball for the Arizona portion of spring training, the Mariners reverted to their offensive feebleness of the past two seasons, getting only a ninth-inning home run from Casper Wells to avert a shutout in a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Hanshin Tigers. Except for a terrible third inning, Mariners starter Hector Noesi did all right. But in that inning, he gave up a double, a two-run home run, a walk, a balk and hit a batter. He threw 76 pitches in five innings and gave up six hits and three runs.
  • Yomiuri Giants 9, Mariners 3 (March 26): Hisashi Iwakuma, who will start the major league season in the bullpen, received the start against his countrymen and gave up six runs and 10 hits in four innings in Seattle’s 9-3 loss to the Giants at the Tokyo Dome. The two other Japanese players in Seattle’s lineup, Ichiro and Munenori Kawasaki, combined to go 0-for-7. The only noteworthy offense among the five Mariners hits came from Dustin Ackley, who homered in the first and tripled in the third.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • Mariners departed spring training with a 12-8-1 record, having lost 5 of past 7, including 13-8 loss to White Sox March 21.
  • Chone Figgins, who has endured two dismal seasons with the Mariners, will carry a four-game hitting streak into the regular season.
  • Alex Liddi hit .429 (15×35) with 7 doubles and 9 runs scored during Cactus clashes. Seven other players hit above .300 in Cactus games, none higher than Liddi.
  • In 10 Cactus games, Ichiro hit .400 with 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 6 runs scored and 8 RBIs in 10 games.
  • Ichiro will start the season batting third in Seattle’s order. He has played in 1,749 games for the Mariners, batting leadoff in 1,720 of those.
  • Ichiro will be making his 11th Opening Day start, third most in club history behind Edgar Martinez’s 15 and Ken Griffey Jr.’s 13 (missed the 2009 opener).
  • The Mariners open at home April 13, hosting the Athletics. Seattle is 21-14 all-time in the first home game of the season after starting a season on the road (or in a neutral venue).
  • The Mariners’ 30-man traveling roster includes 14 pitchers, 4 catchers, 7 infielders and 5 outfielders.
  • The youngest player on the team is RHP Erasmo Ramirez at 21 years, 10 months. The oldest is Ichiro at 38 years, 5 months.

MARINERS WON-LOSS BREAKDOWN (2011)

Rec. Home Road Day Night vs. RHP vs. LHP Hit HR No HR
67-95 39-45 28-50 17-32 50-63 54-67 13-28 42-35 25-60

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
3/29 Fri vs. Oak Jason Vargas (10-13, 4.25) vs. Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.00)
4/6 Fri at Oak To Be Determined
4/7 Sat at Oak To Be Determined
4/9 Mon at Tex To Be Determined
4/10 Tue at Tex To Be Determined

MARINERS 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS

March

Gm.# Date Opp. W/L Rec. Win / Loss
1 3/28 at Oak
2 3/29 at Oak

April

Gm. # Date Opp. W/L Score Win / Loss
3 4/6 at Oak
4 4/7 at Oak
5 4/9 at Tex
6 4/10 at Tex
7 4/11 at Tex
8 4/12 at Tex
9 4/13 vs OaK
10 4/14 vs. Oak
11 4/15 vs. Oak
12 4/17 vs. Cle
13 4/18 vs. Cle
14 4/19 vs. Cle
15 4/20 vs. CWS
16 4/21 vs. CWS
17 4/22 vs. CWS
18 4/24 at Det
19 4/25 at Det
20 4/26 at Det
21 4/27 at Tor
22 4/28 at Tor
23 4/29 at Tor
24 4/30 at TB

YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    Yuck.  Why not just replace the bird with the swoosh on the helmet while they’re at it?

  • SUDS

    IT looks more a like a tulip than a feather….

  • mackie

    They now look like children’s uniforms. The ones they’ve had were much more sinister and intimidating.

  • Bayviewherb

    Thank God they got rid of those ugly green jerseys. (As did the Mariners.)

  • RadioGuy

    Yes, football IS a physical game and always has been.  Hell, no less than Teddy Roosevelt wanted to ban it because of the level of violence.  No argument that a large part of its appeal is the physical nature of the game…it’s a contact sport.

    Most football fans don’t want to see the physical nature of the sport taken out of it, but is the entertainment from on-field violence worth a Mike Webster suffering dementia before dying at age 50, a Darryl Stingley ending up in a wheelchair for 28 years before dying at 55 or a Dave Duerson committing suicide at 50 because of their football injuries?  To me, it isn’t…these guys are human beings.

  • Macfunk

    As the lawsuits pile up it won’t be the NFL that’s diminished first:  It will be the sport at the high school level and below.  Parents will think hard about letting their sons play (they already are).  School boards, always risk averse, will start to weigh costs versus benefits.  State government, which already mandates parents educate themselves on concussion risks to their young athletes, will continue to regulate further.  I wonder if, someday, that north Seattle high school named for Teddy Roosevelt will replace football with ultimate frisbee.

  • Joe Fan

    For the life of me, I do not understand this pick.  Why replace Portis with Wison?  We needed a home run with this pick and to fill an immediate need.  Take Wilson in round 6 if need be.

    • Artthiel

       Intangibles. Listen to this guy, as well as others who know him, he’s more than the stack of his molecules.

  • RadioGuy

    I agree with Russell Wilson being “too short.”  That’s one of the reasons San Diego was willing to send Drew Brees packing to New Orleans so they could put Philip Rivers under center instead…worked out great for the Chargers, didn’t it?  I mean, what have Brees and the Saints done since that deal?

    Seriously, I’m willing to wait and see how Wilson actually does before writing him off.  Otherwise, why even bother playing football in the first place?  We can just assign wins and losses by acclamation all the way to the Super Bowl and save the money spent on tickets by staring at our computers instead.  No sense in letting these guys actually prove on the field whether or not they belong in the NFL when our minds are already made up.

    • Artthiel

       Radio, if Wilson were 6-1, he’d be a first-rounder. If he were 5-9, he wouldn’t have been drafted. Metrics are important, but they’re not everything. Wilson is the kind of guy who can, like Drew Brees, become a outlier — the guy who breaks the mold.

      • RadioGuy

        That’s why I’m saying let’s let this guy actually get on the field in camp and prove whether he belongs.  After watching the Seahawks give up 50 sacks last year, it seems fair to say the pocket generally doesn’t hold up too well in Seattle.  Having a QB who can create plays on the run is huge, and Wilson seems to be that type of player. 

        Also, you mentioned Seneca Wallace, who I thought was a terrific athlete (best pure athlete on the team, IMHO), but Holmgren was always moving him around and never let him really find a comfort zone as a backup QB.  I don’t see that happening with Wilson, whose off-the-charts leadership abiilty gives him a mentality you want to see at QB, too.

        At the very least, he’ll challenge Portis for the 3rd QB slot on the team, but I can totally see him eventually becoming Flynn’s top backup and making Tarvaris Jackson expendable.  I liked TJ more than I thought I would last year, but I’d consider Wilson an upgrade if he can negate the size issue.

  • Old Goat

    I hope he makes the practice squad – God knows he deserves a break and may turn into a phenomenal NFL player as he is already a phenomenal person. I’d like to believe I could come out of that experience as he has, but the sorry truth is I think I’d be full of hate and would want vengeance for what had been done to me. Go Brian!

    • Artthiel

       OG, I think the practice squad would be a good landing place for a first year.  He’s waaay behind, of course, but it sounded as if he is quick on the uptake.

      • Old Goat

         And come to think of it will be shortly, if not already ahead of that former Seahawk linebacker – Aaron Curry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1107457176 Kage McClued

    Banks is everything a pro athlete should be in terms of attitude and fortitude.  I hope he makes it… and thanks to Pete Carroll for giving him a shot.

    • Artthiel

      I wish the attitude and fortitude came a little easier for some guys, but at least when complaining starts, Banks will have the chops to tell them to shut up.

  • Tim

    And here I was, coming to SPNW hoping for the opportunity to spew hateful venom at Howard Schultz, and I’m leaving choked up.  There’s a lot wrong with the world, but this column should give everyone pause to take notice of their blessings.  What a great story and truly something worthwhile to cheer about.  Thank you Art.  Go Brian

    • Artthiel

       Thanks Tim. Plenty of time to grouse about Howard, but Banks’s story, and his response to it, make as compelling a saga as I’ve seen in sports. 

    • jafabian

      I give props to Sportspress Northwest for not plastering a faux Sonics headline on making the finals like some local media outlets have.  Time to move on from all that.

      • Artthiel

         I’m going to have a little say about OKC in the finals. When people really care, there is no moving, jafabian. Fans in Brooklyn still grieve about the Dodgers moving to LA, and that was in 1958. I know analogies to real lost love can be a stretch, but sports teams are often as close as many get to knowing real passion.

  • Tian Biao

    wow, what a story. I totally agree with all the comments below, and am pulling for the guy like everyone else. how could you not? To emerge from an experience like that with his head still on straight and with that kind of  attitude is really something.

  • egdejmacated

    I am srry of all rape victims out there but if u false afly something like that that you should be thrown in jail for atleast twice amount of time of the charge afferent…..

  • jafabian

    A great story and doesn’t surprise me that Pete Carroll is giving him a shot at making it like he did Mike Williams.  At the very least I bet he’s on the practice squad for a season.  How can you not root for Banks?  Looking forward to following his progress.

    • Artthiel

      This one is Pete’s wheelhouse, one that may be strong enough to resist the cynics. 

  • RadioGuy

    After what this guy has already gone through in life, earning a spot on an NFL roster won’t be the most difficult challenge he’s faced.  Definitely should land on the taxi squad (sorry for the old school reference but I’ve always liked it) because he’s got a lot of catching up to do, but any team that signs him will benefit from his presence even if he doesn’t play a down in a regular season game.  Who wouldn’t benefit from having someone with his character?  Bruce Ervin could probably learn a LOT from just being around Brian Banks, and maybe Golden Tate would even start buying donuts.

    • Artthiel

       He’s definitely the national story of the week. I just hope he doesn’t fall prey to the worst aspects our ravenous media culture. Before practice begins, he should do all the storytelling, then bear down to succeed to the limits of his talent.

  • RadioGuy

    Doesn’t the phrase “toe-to-toe” at least imply physical contact and, uhh, tackling?  The Alamo Bowl marked the first ESPN broadcast of a two-hand-touch football game.  You see more defense in an Orlando Predators-Tampa Bay Storm AFL game.

    • Artthiel

       Wave-to-wave? Airkiss-to-Airkiss?

  • 1coolguy

    Price SMOKED RGIII – not even close.

  • Michael Kaiser

    Ya, all the kids are celebrating here on my home hill of Queen Anne.  I thought about saying, “What are you getting so excited about?  A fairly mediocre Husky team beating a nobody?”  But I tried to remember back to those days.  Anything was an excuse to celebrate.  And those were the in-between years of Husky dominance (87-90).  These next three (now to five games at least) will say how far the Huskies have come in the past twenty years, or ten years if you want to date it from our last period of semi-dominance under Neuheisel.   I wonder if I should book a flight to the Pac-12 championship game?

    • Artthiel

      Well, Michael, that’s why you’re the dad and the kids are the kids. You know better, and you also miss being that joyful.

      • Michael Kaiser

        At time I do miss it, and at times I would not want to be that age again.  Funny, my forties are turning out to be my best decade so far.  But, yes, I guess, in a perfect world, I would not mind going through that period again.  Oh, and by the way, when I said kids, I meant all the younger people who live in the same shared housing-type cluster of buildings I do on Queen Anne.  Not my own.

  • Guest

    Art, I disagree. The time to punish a child is right after he commits the transgression, not later. And football players today will take more seriously what is said in front of TV cameras than what is said in the privacy of the locker room.

    Plus Sark is ending a message to future recruits.

  • Artthiel

     Definite stretch. Like Irvin. He might a Seneca Wallace — great athlete, not quite a QB.

  • Tp10super

    Wisconsin had the biggest Offensive Line in the country, averaging 6’6 and 312lbs.  Wilson had 3 balls batted down during his Senior year.  He also set the NCAA record for Passing Efficiency and was 2 hail mary’s away from playing LSU in the National Championship game.  What did Josh Portis do that gave everyone around here a hard on?  Josh Portis got kicked out of 2 schools and was undrafted.  Tavaris Jackson has 1 year left on his contract and will be gone.  What is the problem with drafting a productive, athletic, intelligent leader in the 3rd round who will be counted on to win games for you when the starter is out?  You really want Josh Portis coming into a game in 2013 after Matt Flynn gets knocked out?  Wilson is shorter than him, but he is faster, has a more accurate and bigger arm, has made plays against big time competition, and has nothing but upside.  If he was 6’1 he would have been the 3rd QB taken in this draft.  He measured 5’10 and 7/8….so that’s 2 1/8 inches…what does 2 inches matter when a guy threw for 6,700 yards and 61 TD’s his last two years in college.  Getting a backup Tackle or Guard with the 75th pick in the draft is THAT much more important?  This front office has done nothing but prove the last 3 years that they know how to evaluate talent and when/where to get them.  Tell me how many 3rd round tackles are not only starting in the NFL but would even garner value in 3 years….  What if Wilson shows up big in preseason games and filling in during the regular season while Matt Flynn proves he is the QB of the next decade.  You send him to another team for a 2nd or 3rd round pick or a player…or he is one of the better backup QB’s in the league and someone who holds the locker room together.  I’m not sure how getting that type of person and player with the 75th pick is such a negative and can come even close to being called a “waste”.  I’ll take a “very solid” QB who has proved his worth over a “very solid OL or DL” in the 3rd round any day of the week.

  • Artthiel

     Even 60 Minutes was out here for this. Wherever he ends up, he’ll be a national story.

  • Artthiel

     Circle was erased after Holt fired.

  • Artthiel

     I don’t think Sark needs to be clobbered for his outburst, because he had a good point to make. But like his players, he has to think a moment before he acts. Why have that as the national TV highlight of the game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10706550 Thai-Duong Nguyen

    Proves to the nation (including future recruits) that he is all about improvement, and not coasting to victory.  If you’re a serious football player, you want a coach that will make you work hard no matter what the score is.