SEATTLE — Dustin Ackley built a future memory for his new son by hitting a homer Monday in helping the Mariners open the season with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
It was Ackley’s first homer a a father.
“If you don’t count spring training,” he qualified, “but that’s not as cool. This is his first game here, seeing me play. I’m sure he won’t remember it. We’ll have to tell him about it one day.”
Ackley and his wife, Justine, were driving to spring training in mid-February from their home in Michigan when Justine unexpectedly went into labor near Oklahoma City.
The couple’s first child was not due for another six weeks.
Parson Bennett Ackley was born healthy and, after a short period in an incubator and on a respirator, arrived with his mother for much of spring training.
Ackley’s homer came while leading off the fifth inning against Angels starter Jered Weaver. It was a high drive to right that had sufficient carry to reach the seats.
It was Ackley’s second career homer in an opener. He also went deep in 2012 against Oakland in Japan.
The Mariners enter the season as a trendy pick not only to reach postseason for the first time since 2001 but also go deep into October.
What’s the best way to deal with that?
“You should embrace it,” said second baseman Robinson Cano, who spent nine years dealing with expectations while playing in New York before signing with the Mariners.
“That’s what the game’s for.”
The Mariners’ nine straight victories on opening day are tied for the second-long streak in major-league history. The Boston Beaneaters had a 10-game streak from 1887-96.
Three other clubs posted nine-game runs: The St. Louis Browns from 1937-45; the New York Mets from 1983-91; and the Cincinnati Reds from 1983-91.
The Mariners are tied with the Browns’ for the longest streak in American League history. The Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954 and became the Orioles.
SEVEN AND COUNTING
Felix Hernandez made his seventh consecutive start on opening day, but he’s still got a ways to go to match the record by one pitcher for the same organization.
Robin Roberts started 12 straight openers for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1950-61.
Jack Morris started 11 in a row for Detroit from 1980-90, while two pitchers had 10-game streaks: Steve Carlton for the Phillies from 1977-86, and Tom Seaver for the New York Mets from 1968-77.
Morris actually started 14 consecutive openers; he started for Minnesota in 1991 and for Toronto in 1992-93.
The tentative pitching match-ups are set for the next five games:
***Tuesday vs. Los Angeles: LHP James Paxton vs. Angels LHP C.J. Wilson.
***Wednesday vs. Los Angeles: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Angels RHP Matt Shoemaker.
***Friday at Oakland: RHP Taijuan Walker vs. Athletics LHP Drew Pomeranz.
***Saturday at Oakland: LHP J.A. Happ vs. Athletics RHP Sonny Gray.
***Sunday at Oakland: Hernandez vs. Athletics RHP Jesse Hahn.
ODDS AND ENDS
Three Mariners experienced their first opening day in the big leagues: pitchers Taijuan Walker, Tyler Olson, Carson Smith and catcher Jesus Sucre.
For Olson, it was also his first day in the big leagues.
Cano and Felix Hernandez experienced their 10th opener.
***Closer Fernando Rodney is the oldest player on the Mariners’ roster at 38 years and 19 days (as of Monday). Walker is the youngest at 22 years and 236 days.
It was 38 years ago Monday — April 6, 1977 — that the Mariners played their first game in franchise history. That came at the Kingdome and was also against the Angels.
The Mariners lost 7-0.
Footnote from that day: Much-loved broadcaster Dave Niehaus nearly missed the first pitch because he was fetching a beverage for then-Angels owner Gene Autry.
My, oh my!
Niehaus spent eight years as an Angels broadcaster before joining the Mariners’ crew in the franchise’s first year. He remained 34 years with organization prior to his death in 2010.
Carson Smith had not given up a run in any of 10 career appearances…Hernandez is 5-1 with a 1.07 ERA in his last nine starts against the Angels…Hernandez became just the fourth pitcher in the last 102 years to register 10 or more strikeouts in three different season openers. Randy Johnson did it four times. Pedro Martinez and Bob Gibson each did it three times…Besides Ackley, the Mariners have had only two left fielders hit homers on opening day. Remember Eric Anthony in 1994 and Darrin Bragg in 1996?…The Mariners’ streak of six straight road openers, which ended Monday, was the longest in the big leagues since Milwaukee went 10 years from 1996-2005…The Mariners are 24-15 on opening day and 4-6 when the opener is a day game…This was the 17th time the Mariners opened the season on a Monday. They are 10-7 in those games…Monday was the 6,034th game in franchise history. The Mariners fell/improved to 2,823-3,209-2.