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Seattle Mariners sweep Oakland Athletics to win Japan series

Yusei Kikuchi joins the Seattle Mariners
Yusei Kikuchi joins the Seattle Mariners. Pic credit: MLB

The Seattle Mariners just finished a sweep of the Oakland Athletics to open the 2019 Major League Baseball season. In Game 2 of the Japan series between the Mariners and Athletics, it took 12 innings to decide the outcome.

The March 21 game had a lot of drama and intrigue. It was the Mariners debut for pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, Ichiro Suzuki was playing in his final MLB game, and the eyes of the baseball world were upon the two teams.

There was a lot of discussion about Ichiro, especially when it was announced that he was retiring following the Japan series. Ichiro went 0-for-4 from the plate but got a long and well-deserved ovation when he came out of the game.

Kikuchi pitches well for Mariners

In his first game since signing as a free agent with the Mariners, Kikuchi went 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits. His pitch count got a bit too high (91), leading to manager Scott Servais pulling him out in the fifth inning. Roenis Elias pitched nicely in relief, but the Mariners would blow a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning.

The game would remain tied at 4-4 until the 12th inning when the Mariners loaded the bases on a Dee Gordon single and walks by Mitch Haniger and Edwin Encarnacion. A fielder’s choice by Domingo Santana drove in Gordon, giving the Mariners a 5-4 lead.

Hunter Strickland entered the game in the bottom of the 12th for the Mariners, getting three quick outs to preserve the win and notch his second save of the young season. It is very clear that he has become an important part of this team after taking over for Edwin Diaz in save situations.

On the night, Mitch Haniger hit his first homer of the season, Ryon Healy also hit his first homer, and the duo each had two hits in the game.

As a team, the Mariners scored five runs on just nine hits, adding five walks to help in the effort. It was just enough to win the game and improve to 2-0 in the standings.

While the Japan series was tough on fans, who had to watch the game at 2:35 a.m. PT in Washington state, heading back to Seattle with a 2-0 record is a pretty big deal.

The Mariners will have practices and additional Spring Training games before the home opener against the Boston Red Sox on March 28.


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