Weaver gets blown up -- again -- as Mariners drop opener

Somewhere, Jeff Fassero and Ryan Franklin are smiling.

In what truly had to be the greatest display of near misses since those famous M's only made "one or two" bad pitches on their way to getting the boot out of Seattle, Jeff Weaver wrapped up an inauspicious home debut by giving up 7 runs in 6 innings and in the process perhaps sealing what will be the Mariners' first series loss of the season.

The hardest part about watching Weaver is that I keep thinking he can be that guy he was when he was with the Tigers before being traded to the Yankees -- the guy who was murder on righties with that sinker and slider.

Instead, the guy I see now is one who lacks confidence in his fastball and can't locate a slider to save his life.

I know it's only two starts, and I want to believe that he's close to putting it together. A lot of the hits tonight were of the seeing eye variety -- can you believe that hop to short that started the fateful fifth? -- and if you're looking for silver linings, Weaver did have a 73.3 ground ball out percentage. It also certainly appeared he wasn't getting any help from the home plate umpire.

But Weaver's got to be tougher -- and smarter -- than he was tonight. Right before the grand slam to Hunter, he just missed with a fastball that a more generous umpire might have called strike three. Instead of ending the inning, Hunter was given another chance. And instead of coming back with another solid sinker, Weaver hung a 1-2 slider that fooled no one.

I think we're right to expect more from a guy who was a World Series hero and purported to be the kind of "winner" Seattle has been lacking.

As for the offense, well, let's just say it wasn't the greatest night. Ramon Ortiz has been hot this year, but I'm always mystified when a team does the same thing over an over again, inning after inning, against a pitcher. How many ground balls did the Mariners beat into the ground to third baseman Luis Rodriguez? How about trying to punch one to the right side? Or working a count? This is not a patient team at the plate, and I fear the M's are going to struggle all year against pitchers who are consistently around the plate.

Back to the drawing board tomorrow, in what now becomes a hugely important game. King Felix heads to the bump in a game the Mariners frankly must have with Johan Santana looming on Thursday. But Carlos Silva has proven to be no slouch this year.

Should be a fun one to watch.

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