My absolute favorite Mariners moment of the last five years (dating back to the King’s perfect game in 2012) happened last September 21st. Top of the seventh, on his 112th pitch of the game, Felix Hernandez got Michael Saunders to ground out to second base to preserve a 1-0 lead (Diaz would go on to blow that save in the top of the ninth, but the Mariners would ultimately prevail 2-1 in 12 innings) and as the King walked off the mound – most certainly knowing that would be his final pitch of the ballgame – he screamed out for the world to hear, “THIS IS MY HOUSE!”
The opponent: The Toronto Blue Jays. The location: Seattle, Washington. The stands: nearly 40,000 people, the vast majority of which were Canadian Blue Jays fans.
These games are an affront to common decency! For starters, if the Mariners are supposed to be the regional team, why are all these people from Western Canada still fans of the Blue Jays? Get out of here with your Canadian pride! And, while I’m sure all these businesses along the I-5 corridor appreciate the influx of Cana-dough whenever these people come here, I still think the Mariners should be ashamed of themselves for marketing these games to Blue Jays fans. And the area merch stores should be DOUBLY ashamed to stock their shelves with so much Blue Jays crap!
THIS IS OUR HOUSE, GOD DAMMIT! HAVE A LITTLE FUCKING PRIDE!
I don’t really have a baseball team that I loathe more than the others. It used to be the Yankees, but that was when the Mariners were making the playoffs more than once a generation. I sort of have equal disdain for all the other A.L. West teams (though, the Astros are starting to nose ahead in that horse race). But, I think I have the most fire pumping through my veins whenever Toronto comes to town and it sounds like a Blue Jays home game in Safeco Field. This aggression will not stand, man!
Last night’s game wasn’t quite as satifsying as that Felix moment from last year, but it’s close. Toronto jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring 1 in the second when Gaviglio got himself into a jam, and another in the third when Jose Bautista hit a solo homer to left. The M’s got one back in the bottom of the third when Dyson’s speed turned a single into a run with a stolen base, a wild pitch, and a Gamel single to right.
And 2-1 it stayed, with the Blue Jays starter cruising with a low pitch count into the seventh inning, when FINALLY the Mariners rallied. Cano doubled, Seager walked, and Valencia hit one in on a single. Zunino walked to load the bases, and up came Dyson again. With the infield drawn in, he laced a single to center that scored the go-ahead run (while leading to Valencia getting throw out at the plate).
Gaviglio had another fine outing, going 6 innings, giving up the 2 runs (one unearned, thanks to a Zunino passed ball), giving up 6 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5. He struggled early in the game, but really settled into a nice groove over his final couple of innings.
Tyler Cloyd had his first appearance, taking over for Gaviglio in the seventh, after being called up from Tacoma a while ago. He got the first two outs of the inning okay, but gave up a single and a double to the next two guys, getting out of the inning with a crazy-awesome relay from Dyson to Motter to Zunino. For his efforts, he got his first Major League win since 2013 with the Phillies.
After snatching the lead from the Blue Jays, Nick Vincent was called in to handle the eighth. He gave up a couple of singles, but ended up striking out the side (including a couple of really impressive at-bats against Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak – who knew what Vincent was going to do to him, watched Vincent do just what he expected, and still swung through the inside cutter for the frustrating-for-him-but-not-me-because-fuck-Smoak strike three). I know Vincent has been pretty great all year, but this was as good as I’ve ever seen him!
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, with runners at first & second and two outs, Kyle Seager had as professional of an at-bat as you’ll ever see, as he lined an RBI single the other way off of a pretty tough-looking lefty reliever. Just an outstanding piece of hitting for a guy who has a valid reputation as a pull hitter.
With the 2-run cushion, Edwin Diaz came in throwing flames. He touched 101mph on multiple occasions, including the final strike of the inning to blow it past Kevin Pillar. Again, it wasn’t quite the Felix moment from last year, but Diaz climbing the ladder and hitting 101 for the game-ending strikeout was pretty boss hoss.
This win is doubly huge because it sets the Mariners up well for the rest of the series, with Ariel Miranda going tonight, and Paxton going tomorrow. Here’s to hoping he won’t take it easy on his Canadian brethren.