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First Impressions: New Year, Same Mariner

Nothing quite tops the sweaty palms and nervous jitters that an individual feels right before Opening Day of the upcoming baseball season. Some fans are ready for another postseason run, others are grinding through rebuilding years with their respective franchises, yet the unluckiest of them all are those hoping that this year, finally this year, it will be their team standing tall at the end of the season. The Seattle Mariners faithful fall into that third niche, after telling themselves again and again that “this will be our year”. After the first game for fans, there are two different ends of the spectrum that they can fall into; the first is utter bravado after a win, while the second is pure disheartenment. These feelings are usually unwarranted seeing as there are still 161 games to go, however, let us take a walk down the path of second group of fans for the sake of this article.

King Felix, a famous alias for the man making his 10th start for the Seattle Mariners, looked to return to his former Cy Young form after posting mediocre stats the past two years. To sum up his outing, Hernandez returned to the King Felix that Seattle Mariners’ fans have grown accustomed to over his tenure in Seattle; pitching a bona fide winnable game only to have another tally notched in his loss column. Don’t get me wrong, there were many mistake pitches thrown by Hernandez, including one to George Springer to lead off the bottom of the first that resulted in a home run, yet he still allowed the Mariners to stay within striking distance. With his velocity dropping, Hernandez effectively used his off-speed pitches to disgruntle the opposing batters, while continuing to mix up his locations on those pitches for even more effect. Tallying up six strikeouts and yielding no walks to the Astros is a well above average start, yet Hernandez was only able to complete five innings of his start due to tightness in his groin after he ran over to cover first base. Hernandez will miss no time after his short outing, but never count out a lingering ailment, especially when it concerns Mariners’ pitchers. A welcome surprise to this new bullpen was James Pazos, who threw in relief for the Mariners after Nick Vincent. Pazos lit up the radar gun sitting at 97 MPH, and having that velocity from a left-handed pitcher out of your bullpen could do wonders for the Mariners down the road in this long season.

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