The Seattle Mariners have finished playing two exhibition games in Tokyo against the Yomiuri Giants. They won both games. On Saturday night Seattle time they beat the Giants 6-4.
Mike Leake started the game for the Mariners going five innings giving up three runs on three hits. Cory Gearrin, Zach Rosscup, and Hunter Strickland each went an inning without giving up a run. Roenis Elias pitched the ninth giving up a run on two hits.
The Mariners were behind 3-1 into the seventh inning when Mitch Haniger and Jay Bruce each hit a home run with a runner on base going ahead 5-3. Dee Gordon showed power in the eighth inning by hitting a solo home run. So the Mariners scored five of their six runs by the long ball.
On Monday the Mariners beat the Giants 6-5. Felix Hernandez started and struggled once again giving up five runs on four hits with three walks in four innings. Again the bullpen did their job to keep the Mariners in the game before Mitch Haniger hit his second home run in as many games with one runner base. Catcher David Freitas hit a home run in the eighth inning.
Ichiro started both games in right field and is expected to do so on Wednesday against the Oakland A’s in the season opener in Japan. He made a good throw in the game however didn’t have a hit in either game. Braden Bishop replaced Ichiro in both games as well. He made three plate appearances each in both games. According to manager Scott Servais will start in right field in the opener as well. No one is expecting him to be on the roster when the Mariners return home to Seattle and the roster goes down from 28 to 25. No one knows whether he will announce his retirement or not at the time. He did make a good throw where a runner did not go to third base. He still has a good arm though.
Brandon Brennan, Nick Rumbelow, Dan Altavilla, Matt Festa, and Chasen Bradford all went an inning without giving up a run. Rumbelow was the only one to give up a hit while Altavilla was the only one to walk a batter. Most likely one of those five relievers will not be on the 25-man roster when returning to Seattle.
Outside of Hunter Strickland beginning as the closer and Zac Rosscup as the lefty specialist everyone else’s roles are not defined at this time in the bullpen. I am sure it will take a few weeks before that will happen.
There is talk right now that Kyle Seager could be out until June. Ryon Healy will start out the season starting at third base, however, we will probably see utility player Dylan Moore playing their some too. This will mean Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce, Daniel Vogelbach will share first base and designated hitter. If Mallex Smith is able to start in center field when the Mariners return home than Jay Bruce will be the fourth outfielder as well; we should know his status in a few days.
Daniel Vogelbach at first base and dh we will see whether he is able to hit on a regular basis. We do know he will get his home runs but whether he will hit around .200 or higher we will see. He likely will start against right handers only. I am sure Servais will see how he handles lefties as well on occasion.
With Felix Hernandez still struggling on the mound it will be interesting to see how long the Mariners will go with him in the starting rotation. If he does continue on the same path will they send him to the bullpen, put him on the injured list, or release him. Another question we will see possibly soon. I think to it may depend on how the rest of the starting rotation does as well?