The Mariners were due to lose an opening day. For all their struggles in the past decade, the one thing they did exceedingly well is win on opening day. They were vying for their tenth (?!) straight win on opening day this afternoon, deep in the heart and heat of Texas.
So, I suppose the Mariners were not true to the blue with their 3-2 loss opening up the 2016 season. However, it certainly felt like a true to the blue kind of game.
The Mariners will not have another loss like this opener. It was an absurd level of strange.
The Mariners only allowed one hit all day, and even that was a measly blooper. On a different day we could have been talking about a no-hitter, which will get buried in all the other opening day stories. The Rangers struggled mightily to square up pitches hurled from King Felix and newly minted lefty reliever Mike Montgomery.
Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager both went deep off of Cole Hamels. Granted, both were solo shots (echoes of last year's dinger-happy offense), but Hamels is far from the easiest southpaw for lefties to tee off against. The heart of the M's order dealt legitimate damage against one of the better pitchers in baseball.
Really, it is hard to dial up a loss out of this collection of performances the M's put together today. Yes, there were some troubling walks and errors, but that was it. It's difficult for an offense to bunch together walks and errors to make a big inning. Literally everything that was bad about this game for the Mariners happened to all happen in the bottom of the fifth inning, and that was just enough to give the Rangers the victory.
Give the Rangers credit for making their awkwardly explosive fifth inning stick, but this opening day loss stings hard. It is probably a bit too strong to say the Mariners should have won today, but they certainly could have. I would not have complained if the Mariners had found a way to win.
This was only game 1 on the season, with a whopping 161 more to go. On some level the oddity of this opening game should be whisked away and forgotten. It was very strange. It won't happen again. It didn't do anything to suggest the Mariners cannot contend.
However, I think the Mariners are about a .500 team that will battle with a large handful of teams for a wild card spot. On paper, it sure looks like every game will count in the American League with how bunched the whole league looks. That's why today's loss stings so much. It is hardly a nail in the coffin, but with so many mediocre teams battling for only a few spots, the luckiest teams will rise to the top. Lady luck shined down on the Rangers today and left the Mariners wondering what could have been. Nobody in this year's American League can afford to many funky losses like the Mariners just suffered.