It's one thing when the manager of a team that finished last in 2010 talks about 'pushing the envelope' offensively, quite another when he then illustrates his theories on opening night.
A day after talking the talk, Eric Wedge and the Seattle Mariners walked the walk in their 6-2 victory over Oakland.
Yes, Felix Hernandez was semi-spectacular, delivering the 14th complete game of his career and shutting the A's out over the final eight innings. Behind, that new infield defense worked perfectly.
But for those who watched Seattle's offense ruin game after game a year ago, it wasn't exactly comforting when the Mariners got through five ininngs trailing, 2-1.
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Before the night ended, however, the Mariners had eight hits - including a Chone Figgins home run - seven walks and three stolen bases. Push the envelope? Wedge had Ichiro and Figgins running. When No. 8 hitter Brendan Ryan led off the sixth inning with a single, No. 9 hitter Jack Wilson bunted him to second.
"We're going to try to get Ichiro up in RBI situations," Wedge said.
Ichiro came up in one, and after first trying to bunt for a hit - and fouling the pitch off - he singled home the tying run.
“I told you we were going to be better offensively,” Felix said. “Six runs? Awesome!”
Throughout camp, Wedge and batting coach Chris Chambliss preached patience at the plate, demanding Mariners hitters swing at strikes, make the opposing pitcher work and, if they got the pitch they wanted, letting the bat fly.
“When you go to the plate ready to hit, you don’t chase as many bad pitches, you make the pitcher work harder,” Figgins said. “We’re going up there ready to hit."
All that pushing and patience and walking seemed to unglue the Athletics, who committed five errors behind six of their pitchers.
“Everything was good tonight, the hitting, the defense …” Felix said.
And the pitching?
“Everything!” he said, beaming. “It was fun!”
Nine innings, 108 pitches. Hernandez allowed five hits, no walks and struck out five. In four opening night starts, he's now 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
That's pushing the envelope.