The Mariners had an unlikely hero on opening day: backup catcher Mike Marjama.
With starter Mike Zunino a late scratch from Thursday night’s opener against Cleveland because of stiffness in his right side, Marjama got his first chance to catch Felix Hernandez.
King Felix rolled through the first inning but Marjama gave the Mariners a scare in the second when he was called for catcher’s interference when struck on the back of the mitt by Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.
Manager Scott Servais, himself a former catcher, came out to check on Marjama with the Mariners’ training staff.
If Marjama was forced out, it seemed the only option was to put reserve infielder Andrew Romine behind the plate.
But Marjama stayed in the game.
“I didn’t have an option,” Marjama told MLB.com. “We don’t really have anybody else right now. It was just (time to) suck it up and keep going.”
Not only did Marjama get Hernandez through 5 1/3 scoreless innings, but he also coaxed closer Edwin Diaz through a rocky inning for the save in a 2-1 victory. Diaz hit two batters with pitches, was called for a balk and allowed two stolen bases, but managed to pitch a scoreless ninth by striking out the side.
“Marjama might have been the MVP of the game for me,” Servais told reporters after the game. “It was a great night for our pitching staff and I have to give Marjama a ton of credit. Especially when he got hit on the catcher’s interference. I was a little scared of where we were going to go at that point, but he really gutted it out for us.”
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