Although traditional Opening Day is still a week away, the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics started the 2019 regular season in Japan on Wednesday with Seattle winning a 9-7 affair with five homers and an ovation for Ichiro. The AL West rivals will play another game Thursday in Tokyo before heading home.

This will be the fifth time a regular season series is played in Japan and the second time the Mariners and Athletics are involved. They opened the 2012 season with a pair of games in Tokyo. MLB also opened the season in Japan in 2000 (Cubs vs. Mets), 2004 (Yankees vs. Devil Rays), and 2008 (Red Sox vs. A's). 

The 2019 Japan Series is part of MLB's ongoing effort to grow baseball globally. There will also be regular season series played in London (Yankees vs. Red Sox) and Mexico (Reds vs. Cardinals and Astros vs. Angels) this year. Here's how you can watch this season's opening game:

Mariners vs. A's Japan Opening Series

Mariners storylines

For the Mariners, this two-game series in Tokyo is all about the great Ichiro Suzuki. He predictably received long and loud ovations each time he came to the plate or made a defensive play during exhibition games against the Yomiuri Giants these last few days. Ichiro started the opener on Wednesday, but it is unclear what his future holds. It is entirely possible these two games will be the final two games of his Hall of Fame career. Two games in his home country would be an incredible way to go out.

Athletics storylines

The A's won't have the luxury of sneaking up on anyone this season. Last year they won 97 games and gave the Astros quite the headache in the AL West, and now they're going into the season as a postseason favorite.

Two-way third baseman Matt Chapman and sluggers Khris Davis and Matt Olson headline an offensive attack that lost Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy over the winter. They've been replaced by Jurickson Profar and Nick Hundley. Also, all-world closer Blake Treinen looms in the bullpen. He is a video game. Pitchers are not supposed to be able to throw 99 mph sinkers and 93 mph sliders, yet he does it. The A's should again be one of the most dangerous teams in baseball in 2019.