As miserable as last season was for the Detroit Tigers, they played well against the Seattle Mariners. Considering the M's lost 101 games, that's nothing to boast about. But the Tigers still finished 7-3 versus the Mariners last year, their best mark against any American League team.
Yet coming into this weekend's series, the Mariners have that same 7-3 record after their first 10 games, the second-best in the AL behind Toronto. Whether it lasts or not, the Emerald City is enjoying some winning baseball again. And the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker looks at a few reasons why the team is off to a good start.
Here's what I like so far:
This team has yet to lose a series. Do that all year and you win the entire thing. We're talking World Series, trip to the White House, all that.
The M's are showing a killer instinct. No, they didn't seal the deal against the Angels, but they nearly did. And they did do it against the A's. Not perfect in this area yet, but they are three months ahead of where they were last season when they recorded their first series sweep of three games or more. What we saw last night was the Angels doing what the Angels do best. The M's pushed them to the brink and the Angels responded. That's why they keep winning AL West titles. What, you thought this division would be a cakewalk? It won't be. The Angels are still the Angels. But the M's took advantage of them when they were down. They came a strike or two away from probably sweeping.
Seattle has dropped more bunts down the first 10 games than it probably did the last two years combined. Yeah, I'm stretching it a bit, but not by much. It's like somebody kidnapped the Angels and gave them Mariners uniforms. And not just on the bunting front. These Mariners are running teams ragged.
Virtually any team that pitches well and plays good defense is going to win games, and the Mariners have benefited from some outstanding performances so far. Throw in the speed, and you have a model that a lot of teams are trying to follow right now - including the Tigers. Look at how Detroit approached the offseason.
Baker sure is excited about that bunting. But Seattle has had to play small ball, because they're not hitting for much power. Mariners batters have only hit five home runs so far, along with 13 doubles. (Compare that to 30 extra-base hits by the Tigers, including 12 homers.) Hopefully, guys like Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez don't find their power strokes against Tigers pitching.
Something the Tigers should be conscious of is how many batters Seattle relievers are walking thus far. (19 walks in 28 innings, with 23 strikeouts.) A little patience at the plate might be called for in the later innings this weekend.