"We're going to surprise some people this year," Niese said.
Other early surprises include the Orioles, who finished a three-game sweep of Minnesota behind Hammel. He faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings, issuing two walks, before Justin Morneau's leadoff double in the eighth.
The Mariners are 3-1 going into Monday night's game at Texas, where Japanese star Yu Darvish makes his Rangers debut. And the lowly Astros took two of three at home from Colorado, giving them a winning record for the first time since they were 51-50 after games on July 29, 2009. Houston lost its first five games last season and dropped eight in a row to start 2010.
There were several big comebacks Sunday, too.
Ryan Roberts and Lyle Overbay hit consecutive homers off Matt Cain and the Arizona Diamondbacks tied a franchise record by rallying from six runs down to beat San Francisco 7-6 for a three-game sweep in a season-opening series between teams expected to tussle for the NL West crown.
Jay Bruce's second homer of the game and Scott Rolen's game-winning single in the ninth lifted Cincinnati over Florida 6-5, handing new Marlins closer Heath Bell a blown save in his first opportunity.
And the Pirates beat Philadelphia in their final at-bat for the second time in less than 24 hours when Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single off the center-field fence for a 5-4 victory.
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