ANAHEIM, Calif. – It’s not just that the Seattle Mariners won their first three games of the 2014 season that’s surprising.
Well, actually it’s stunning. But with Wednesday night’s 8-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium, the Mariners swept a three-game series in Anaheim for the first time since 2006. It was the first time since 1995 that the Mariners had won three straight to start a season. It was also the first time since 1985 the team started off the season with a series sweep.
So the wins have historical value to the franchise and fans.
But it was how they won the past three games that seemed so, well, un-Mariner-like.
Seattle dominated. The Mariners got runs early and continued to add on. In the three games, they scored 26 runs on 34 hits, including 17 extra-base hits. Mariners teams of the last few years couldn’t put up those types of numbers in two three-game series.
Is it a little early to proclaim this team an offensive juggernaut? Of course. Even their manager, Lloyd McClendon, cautioned for practicality.
“It’s still early,” he said before the game. “We’ve swung the bat extremely well. At some point, we are going to have to win a game 2-1 or 1-0.”
It wasn’t going to be this game.
But it seems as though this year’s Mariners offense will be better not simply for the addition of Robinson Cano but the improvement of the players around him. Of the all the runs scored, Cano drove in just one of them. That first RBI came in the third inning. Brad Miller hustled out a two-out double to right field and Cano rewarded the effort with a ground ball up the middle into center to score him and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. The lead was pushed to 2-0 in the fifth inning when Miller dumped a single to left to score Willie Bloomquist.
And like in the first two games, the Mariners turned the game into a rout against the Angels’ hapless bullpen.
They scored four runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by an RBI double from Stefen Romero and a three-run homer from Mike Zunino. The Mariners got two more runs in the ninth when Justin Smoak and Corey Hart hit back-to-back homers off Ernest Frieri.
The eight runs was more than enough support for starter James Paxton, who turned in a brilliant outing.
Paxton tossed seven shutout innings, giving up just two hits, while striking out nine and walking two.
The big left-hander dominated the Angels. Only Mike Trout, who doubled in the fourth inning, had a hard hit ball off him. Following Trout’s double, Paxton retired 12 of the next 13 batters, striking out seven and retiring the last 11 in a row.
Perhaps the only negative of the game was reliever Hector Noesi, who was unimpressive in mop-up duty.