Mariners open against old nemesis

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, April 1, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – There’s no better time than now to sense the urgency.

The Seattle Mariners begin the 2007 season today, and a successful year seems imperative in order to retain not only the fans’ faith, but also manager Mike Hargrove, general manager Bill Bavasi and star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

With the jobs of Hargrove and Bavasi at stake, and Suzuki carefully measuring the competitiveness of the franchise as he decides how far to take his upcoming free agency, winning is more important now than any recent April.

It would help to win at least a couple of games this week from the Oakland A’s.

That’s all the Mariners managed the entire 2006 season, going 2-17 against the A’s in a pratfall that essentially wrecked Seattle’s season.

“It’s important to get off to a good start and it’s important to have a good series against Oakland,” left fielder Raul Ibanez said. “Is it more important than having a good series against Oakland in September? I don’t know.”

The A’s got into the Mariners’ heads in 2006, but so did the rest of the American League West Division. The Mariners went 19-38 against the AL West.

Just going .500 against the A’s and the rest of the West would have kept the Mariners in the race going into the final month. Instead, Oakland had their number, and an 11-game losing streak in August – including three straight losses to the A’s – finished the Mariners.

Nearly eight months later, Ibanez remains bitter with the memory of the A’s dominance over the Mariners.

“I was embarrassed about it last year and I went home embarrassed after the season,” Ibanez said. “That was a pounding. I’d never seen anything like that. It’s in the past now. But it’s in the near past, the very near past. It’s important for us to beat those guys.”

So, is it better to forget the thrashing the A’s gave the Mariners last year, or better to remember it?

“A little bit of both,” relief pitcher George Sherrill said. “We need to feed off it and make it piss us off, but not to a point where we can’t do our jobs. If you take out those games, we’re in the hunt the last couple of weeks of the season. Even if we played .500 against them, we’d have had a shot.

“When you look back over 162 games and know that one team took you out of it, well, this year that won’t happen.”

Ibanez believes the Mariners are better prepared to compete this year, having added Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen to the offense and re-tooled the starting rotation with the additions of Miguel Batista, Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver.

“We still have to do what we didn’t do last year,” Ibanez said. “We didn’t wear down pitchers. That’s what a team like Oakland did against us. You wear down the opposing pitcher by taking tough pitches, by fouling off tough pitches, by having quality at-bats. I think our innings were too fast last year. I don’t foresee that to be a problem this year.”

The Mariners play the A’s 19 times again this season, including today’s season opener at Safeco Field. With 143 other games to play, nothing the Mariners do against Oakland this week or the rest of the season will be the determining factor in their fate.

Then again …

“It’s not to say we can’t dig ourselves out of a hole, but we don’t need to get too deep, too early.” Sherrill said.

Ibanez is confident that won’t happen.

“We’re ready to start the season but more importantly, we’re ready to have a good season,” he said. “This club is significantly different and I expect us to be playing meaningful games now and in September. I expect this club to be playing in the postseason. If anybody in here expects anything different, they shouldn’t be here.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) fights for the puck during a game between the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. The Silvertips won, 5-3. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Some good, some bad for Silvertips in season-opening split

Everett was missing three key players over the weekend but significantly outshot its two opponents.

A look at the Seattle Sounders’ new crest and secondary images unveiled on Tuesday. (Seattle Times photo)
Sounders unveil new crest, colors as 50th season approaches

The new look, which gives a nod to the past, will start being worn by the team next season.

Mike Thomas (6) owner of the Everett Royals, shares a laugh after practice at Archbishop Murphy High School on February 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett’s new arena football team announces owners, coach

The franchise had been shrouded in mystery since the league announced it was relaunching in April.

Washington's Sami Reynolds bats during a Women's College World Series game this past June in Oklahoma City. (UW Athletics photo)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Woman of the Year in Sports: Sami Reynolds

The Snohomish grad capped an outstanding five-year career with an All-American season and one of the biggest moments in UW history.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 18-24

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 18-24. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 26

Prep roundup for Tuesday, Sept. 26: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team poses for a photo in front of the Space Needle in Seattle. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: 1987 Cascade boys soccer

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team won the AAA title and kicked off a run of five straight appearances in the state title game.

Arlington’s Caleb Reed is thrown into the air by lineman Dylan Scott after scoring a touchdown against Ferndale on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep football power rankings after Week 4

Here are our top 8 local teams after all the action from Friday and Saturday.

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 5 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

Most Read