While overall it may suck to be a Mariners fan this year, there are still individual games worth watching. Worth getting excited about. And worth dwelling upon in morning-after posts.
Invariably, these games almost exclusively involve Felix Hernandez in some way.
I’m visiting family this weekend, which means I get to be around cable television for a few days. Which means I get to see the Seattle Mariners play baseball for free. Which means I made it home in time on Friday to watch that 7th inning meltdown of epic proportions.
It also means I made last night’s game Appointment Television. 6pm, I would be parked on the couch in front of our flat screen as the Mariners sought to end their 7-game losing streak against the Minnesota Twins. Felix Hernandez was taking the hill vs. Some Dumb Skank for the Twins, and boy did this game not disappoint!
I seem to be good luck for this team when I’ve had
a few many beers. A real fan would notice this trend and become a full-blown alcoholic for his team. Just sayin’.
The night started out as a Very Mariners Kind Of Game. Five shutout innings for both sides, with the Twins being let off the hook thanks to three double play ground balls. FINALLY, Some Dumb Skank made one mistake too many and Kyle Seager of all people pounded that mistake back up the middle for a 2-run single.
From there, the bullpen took over. And in the 7th inning, the Mariners exploded. Walk by Carp, bunt single by Saunders, walk by Ackley, sac fly by Brendan Ryan (who I’d been killing on Twitter all night, so good job there, I guess). Then, the big guns took over. Those big, small, Japanese guns attached to the torso of one Ichiro Suzuki. He absolutely dismantled a pitch into the right-center gap for a 2-run triple to blow the game wide open (and give guys like me hope that Felix would be allowed to finish the game in the 9th if things kept going his way, which they most certainly would have). Kyle Seager finished the barrage with a 2-run homer, firmly implanting himself into this lineup every day for the rest of the season.
The Mariners won this game 7-0. They were rotten for a while, then they were special, and then they cruised to victory. One man who was NOT rotten was Felix Hernandez. He was everything I ever could’ve asked for in an Ace and then some.
I’m not gonna lie to you, I went into this game thinking No Hitter. Truth be told, I go into just about every Felix start thinking No Hitter, but that’s because this has been building up since his Cy Young season of 2010. Hell, this has been building up since he made his very first start in the late summer of 2005! I can only describe the feeling as being like having your first-born spend 10 months in the womb … COME OUT OF THERE ALREADY AND PITCH THAT FUCKING NO-NO!!!
The anticipation is killing me, God damn it! Of course, I’m not blaming Felix or anything, because I have no doubt that it’s going to happen eventually. I just want to get it out of the way so we can see half a dozen more before his career ends! And, for crying out loud, I want to see it in a Mariners uniform!
Anyway, I think there was a little extra juice for my no hitter hopes last night because of the Twins (and the fact that they’re so bad AND they’ve already been no-hit this season). Of course, what you have to realize is, with Felix, when it finally happens, it’s not going to be against the team you expect. It’ll be someone like the Red Sox or Royals or Rockies. Some out-of-nowhere kind of situation where he’ll do it and it won’t be ENTIRELY unexpected … just not as expected as it would be against teams like this year’s Twins, last year’s Padres, or any year’s Athletics.
With 9-up and 9-down last night, I finally let myself get a little more excited. But, that fucking 10th batter knocked a clean single between first and second base and that was that. No big, suspense-filled evening. No sitting on the edge of my seat. All that was left was wondering how the Mariners would blow another gem of a start from their King.
As I described above, that didn’t happen. The second half of this game was quite enjoyable. All that remained was seeing if that 1 hit would hold up.
9-up and 9-down over the first three innings. 15-up and 15-down from innings 5-9. Felix never got the opportunity to finish the game, but he did go 8 innings having given up just the 1 hit, walking 2, and striking out 9. The 1 hit and 2 walks were all in the 4th inning. Given the final score, you can see how that scoring threat concluded. At only 107 pitches, Felix easily could’ve gone out in the final frame and finished what he started, but what would be the point? I have a feeling if the score was still 2-0, Wedge might have left Felix in (remembering what happened the last time League tried to save a Felix start). But, who knows? I’m almost certain Wedge would have left Felix in if our season meant anything more than giving experience to our youthful hitters, but that’s neither here nor there. Felix came out, and Steve Delabar shut the Twins down in the 9th.
1 hit. 2 walks. 10 strikeouts. Of the 17 other outs, 11 of them were grounders. 1 was a sacrifice bunt. 5 were fly ball outs. 3 total base runners, all of them in one inning. I don’t have an extensive history of individual pitching performances (or combo performances with relievers), but I have to believe this was one of the very best we’ve ever seen! Right up there with the two no-hitters and Felix’s 1-hitter against the Red Sox in 2007 against Dice-K.
History. It may not be the kind of history that will be remembered forever, it may not be the kind of history we WANTED to see. But, it’s the kind of history we deserved. I’m Batman.