TOKYO -- The Mariners and A's traveled halfway around the world to get a jump on the rest of the Major Leagues as they'll kick off their two-game Opening Series on Wednesday at the Tokyo Dome in what could be Ichiro Suzuki's swan song.
The two American League West rivals are the first teams to play in Japan since the same clubs faced each other here in 2012.
The Mariners have won four straight season series against the A’s, including a 10-9 advantage last year, but Oakland ran down Seattle in the final two months and grabbed the AL’s second Wild Card berth with a 97-65 record.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
West Coast fans will need to set their alarm clocks as first pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. in Tokyo, which translates to 2:35 a.m. PT/5:35 a.m. ET in the United States. Early-morning risers can catch the game live on ESPN. ROOT Sports will also replay the game in its Northwest markets at 6:35 p.m. PT.
The starting lineups
Mariners: Seattle has dramatically redone its roster, with just four starters returning from last year’s Opening Day lineup, and none of those is in the same defensive positions. Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Ryon Healy and Ichiro have all moved into new spots. Of the rest of last year’s Opening Day starters, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura were traded, Nelson Cruz departed in free agency, Mike Marjama retired and Kyle Seager is injured. Even Felix Hernandez, who had started 10 straight Opening Days, has relinquished that role to 27-year-old lefty Marco Gonzales.
- Dee Gordon, 2B
- Mitch Haniger, CF
- Jay Bruce, 1B
- Edwin Encarnacion, DH
- Domingo Santana, LF
- Omar Narvaez, C
- Ryon Healy, 3B
- Tim Beckham, SS
- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
- Ramon Laureano, CF
- Matt Chapman, 3B
- Stephen Piscotty, RF
- Khris Davis, DH
- Chad Pinder, LF
- Matt Olson, 1B
- Jurickson Profar, 2B
- Marcus Semien, SS
- Nick Hundley, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Mariners: Gonzales makes his first career Opening Day start, breaking Hernandez's streak of 10 straight openers. Gonzales, 27, went 14-10 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 starts last year, which was his first full season in the Majors.
A’s: Right-hander Mike Fiers is also readying for the first Opening Day start of his career. Fiers, who returned to the A’s on a two-year, $14.1 million deal during the offseason, compiled a 12-8 record and 3.56 ERA in 31 outings (30 starts) between Detroit and Oakland last year. His teams were 21-9 in his starting assignments.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Mariners: After trading away Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos and letting Nick Vincent go, the bullpen stands as Seattle's biggest question mark. Hunter Strickland, a former Giants flamethrower who signed on a one-year free-agent deal, will handle the closer duties. Returning arms Dan Altavilla and Chasen Bradford and free-agent additions Cory Gearrin and Zac Rosscup will assume the setup duties, though it may take time to settle into exact roles.
A’s: The A’s employ one of the game’s best closers in right-hander Blake Treinen, who has a strong supporting cast behind him, including setup men Lou Trivino and Joakim Soria. Oakland’s bullpen also features veterans Fernando Rodney and Yusmeiro Petit and lefty Ryan Buchter. Last year, the A’s were 79-2 when leading after eight innings behind Treinen, who recorded 38 saves and a 0.78 ERA.
Any injuries of note?
Mariners: Seager, a fixture at third base for the past seven years, will miss the first 10-12 weeks of the season after having surgery to repair a tendon in his left hand. Mallex Smith, acquired from the Rays to play center field and lead off, won't be ready until the home opener in Seattle next Thursday due to a strained right elbow. Reliever Shawn Armstrong was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday with a strained oblique and fellow reliever Gerson Bautista is also out at least 10 days with strained pectoral muscle.
Who is hot and who is not?
Mariners: Bruce, acquired from the Mets in the Cano/Diaz deal, had an outstanding spring, and the three-time All-Star appears fully healed from hip and foot injuries that waylaid his 2018 season. Santana also had a strong Cactus League showing, and Haniger homered in both exhibition games in Japan. Ichiro has hit just 2-for-31 (.065) in the spring, while Encarnacion was 5-for-35 (.143) with just one double.
A’s: Phegley, who is seeking more playing time this season, swung a hot bat all spring. Others are heating up at the right time, too, including shortstop Marcus Semien, who went 8-for-20 over his final six Cactus League games. Slugger Khris Davis, who was slowed into spring action because of a left calf strain, picked up just one hit in 10 at-bats in the desert, but he hit a two-run home run during an exhibition game in Tokyo.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• Both teams are allowed to keep 28 players on their roster for the international games, though 25 must be designated as active each game.
• Having the extra three players allowed the Mariners to put the 45-year-old Ichiro on the roster for the Opening Series, though it's unlikely he'll survive the cut to 25 when the club sets its final roster for the rest of the regular season prior to the March 28 home opener against the Red Sox.
• This is the fifth Opening Series in the Tokyo Dome and the third one involving the A’s, who also played the Mariners in 2012 and the Red Sox in '08. The Cubs and Mets squared off in the first Opening Series in Tokyo in '00 and the Yankees and Rays played each other in '04.