The Mariners have had a lot of impressive wins this year, actually. Overcoming a 10-run deficit down in San Diego, the seven walk-off victories, the countless come-from-behind victories, including a special game earlier this month against the Red Sox where we erased a 4-run deficit in the bottom of the 8th to set up Edwin Diaz’s first career save.
I’d put last night’s game up there in the Unlikely Victory category. Cody Martin, junkball artist, got the start and threw a bunch of 80-something miles per hour bullshit around the plate that was absolutely crushed. If you’re not able to locate your pitches, you’re not going to last in this league, and sure enough, he kept letting his meatballs drift over the middle of the plate, where young Yankees phenoms were able to mash them for home runs. 4 in total, accounting for all 5 of the Yankees’ runs.
It looked dire! It looked like one of those games. Not that Michael Pineda – New York’s starter last night – is any great shakes, but he’s a professional, with professional stuff. When Cody Martin gave up a solo homer in the first, and another in the second, I knew I had no intention of sticking with this game. I figured, on the bright side, maybe this was a day to go to bed early and catch up on some sleep.
Then, Martin settled down for a minute, and Kyle Seager rewarded us with a 3-run homer to take the lead, and this game had a new lease on life! That lease was promptly torn to shreds in the top of the sixth, as the same guys who homered earlier that day did so a second time, to re-take the lead 5-3. With two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, with Mike Zunino at the plate, I was one out away from officially giving up on the game and hitting the sack.
Which is when Shades of ’95 crept back into our lives. BOOM! Zunino, with a 3-run opposite field home run on a full count to give the Mariners a 6-5 lead! WHAT?!?!
This shit is starting to feel for real. Nelson Cruz even muscled a solo homer out to left in the bottom of the 8th – on a pitch that broke his bat – to give us a very necessary insurance run.
With all of that adversity, there was still the matter of closing out the game. A day after The Bartender & Friends blew a 3-run lead, Edwin Diaz was back in the fold. He’d been given the last couple days off to keep his arm fresh and see if he could work out his fastball command that has eluded him of late. No such luck on that account, as his first few fastballs were wildly off the plate. He gave up a walk and a single around a strikeout, then balked the two runners over to make it even more interesting. From there, he forced a weak fly ball to left to hold the runners, before getting their last guy to ground out to Cano to end it.
The Mariners could have lost that game a number of different ways, but in the end, they managed to pull it out, which is the mark of something special. Underrated key to the game was putting in the defensive replacements as soon as we re-took the lead. Aoki and Smith’s defense have held us back long enough, so it was nice to see Heredia and O’Malley out there holding the fort (O’Malley with one of the best defensive plays of the year, catching that ball as he fell into the stands down the first base line). Between that, and the bullpen in manic mode (after a depressive Sunday afternoon), it all adds up to excellence.
More of the same, please!