The Mariners are hosting the Oakland Athletics this weekend in their first home series of 2016. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the team’s first three games in Texas had some surprising highs and lows.
"It was rather remarkable," Thiel said of the Mariners' first series of 2016. "You usually don't get this kind of cool stuff going on in the beginning of the season like this.
"Felix [Hernandez] had a 100-year loss in the first game. There had never been a pitcher in baseball history who pitched a one-hitter through six innings of an opening game - and LOST! It was weird how that game evolved.
"But the next two games worked very well in the Mariners' favor, where they got a lot of home runs and a lot of offensive production to win 10-2 and 9-5 in Texas - the big division rival who won the division last year," Thiel said.
Veterans and Bullpen Impressive
It was encouraging to see a veteran professionalism in this lineup," Thiel continued. "A lot of guys in their late-20s, mid-30s, still in the prime, and they all seem to know what they were doing.
"Last year's team was really mistake-prone: base-running errors, being out of position on defense and taking pitches when they had to be swinging. Didn't see a lot of that this time. So, that's encouraging.
"The other thing that was encouraging, for a Mariner fan, was the bullpen pitched nine innings and gave up no runs.
"Given the chaos that attended [new] General Manager Jerry Dipoto's remake of the bullpen, no one really knew what to expect. And to get nine innings of shut-out ball is really impressive.
"I think that's probably the most encouraging sign, relative to what we expected from spring training," he said.
First-Time Manager Comes Out Swinging
Thiel said he was impressed with rookie manager Scott Servais. "Just because Servais has never managed doesn't mean he's an inexperienced baseball guy," he said.
"He's been a scout, he's been an executive, he's been a coach. He's done a lot of things around the game that, I think, allows him a little slack.
"Just because you haven't managed doesn't mean you can't. In Servais' case, I think he's a very shrewd baseball mind.
"He's also candid in his assessments. And he's also willing to admit some vulnerability about not knowing certain situations or people.
"That's what he's got to learn in April. It's all about trying to understand what his guys can do," Thiel continued.
"I think he impressed a lot of his players in the Tuesday game when he came out firing with profanities at the Texas Rangers' dugout after one of his players got hit by a pitch.
"It was really fun to see that he wasn't going to let his rookieness stop him from pointing a finger and saying, 'Back down over there.' And they did.
"I think Servais is going to be a good hire."