|Ace #2 has the Mariners looking good in the early going
There was no small amount of enthusiasm around Seattle heading into 2008. The 2007 Mariners had won 88 games, a young ace in the form of Felix Hernandez was poised for greatness, and a trade brought in Erik Bedard, who many figured would be ace number two. Then reality hit: Bedard was hurt for much of the season, the offense cratered, the clubhouse imploded, and Seattle found itself losing 101 games. As a result, expectations for 2009 were predictably subdued.
With the same first-week caveats from a couple of posts ago, expectations have once again been upended in Seattle, this time for the good. The Mariners have won four in a row and open at home with a 5-2 record. Bedard was fantastic yesterday, shutting out the A's into the ninth inning and helping Seattle hold on to a 1-0 win, so maybe he's going to provide that which was expected of him last year. One bad outing from Brandon Morrow notwithstanding, the bullpen has been fantastic. As has the defense. Griffey has been useful and well-deployed by Ken Wakamatu. All of this without Ichiro.
I still don't feature the Mariners making a real race of it in the AL West this year, but I'm almost always the last to recognize when a team is making "the leap." Either way, the Mariners have definitely shown that they're a team worth watching in the early going.