Top 50 Mariner Moments, 2007: #3

June 12th: Jose Vidro deftly eludes Michael Barrett with two outs in the 13th inning, giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead over the Cubs.

Box score & PBP

Game thread, part 1

Game thread, part 2

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The storm blew in like night.

Hunkered on the shores of Aegina, protected by nothing but the armor on their person, the Athenian soldiers were offered little choice but to wait out the rain while exposed to the elements. Weary, their bodies were stung by the bitter cold. The wind arrived with frozen fangs and pierced their skin with relentless fury, rendering even the most hardened hoplite but a powerless heap on the sand. Were the defending Aeginans able to brave the weather, the battle then and there would have reached a decisive conclusion.

Word of the island stalemate soon reached the mainland. A victory that had once appeared certain was now cast into doubt, as the Athenian assailants - demoralized by their losses and overcome with fatigue - were desperate for supplies and reinforcements that proved difficult to deliver. It was feared that, if a shipment weren't made in the coming days, the Athenian soldiers would be vanquished, an achievement which would no doubt embolden the Aeginan resistance. Athens had to act, and it had to act quickly, lest it concede any hope for an approaching Aeginan surrender.

Accompanied by a ship captain and a messenger, an officer from among the soldiers sent to Aegina stood in front of the general. A cool breeze smelling of dew swept through the corridor outside.

"My men are in dire need of help," pleaded the officer. "This siege has gone on too long. Nine months. Nine months we have been fighting. If we don't receive some warm blood and additional supplies, I'm afraid that within one or two weeks we will be defeated. The adversary has proven resilient."

The general stood and stared out towards the sea.

"I understand your concerns, but what do you expect me to do? We could board every soldier in the city onto one of the cargo ships in the harbor, but it wouldn't be of any help. The Aeginan triremes are too fast and too numerous. They would destroy the reinforcements before they ever arrived."

"But you must do something!" exclaimed the officer. "Possible failure must take precedence over certain defeat. If a chance exists, it must be seized!"

The general turned and looked the officer in the eye.

"Do you think I haven't thought of this before? Of course reinforcements would be a godsend for the soldiers on the island! But what about the soldiers whom I would have to send? With the Aeginan triremes, it would be a suicide mission. The odds of such a maneuver succeeding are unthinkably slim."

"But something must be done, else we will lose the battle! Surely any soldier in this military would be proud to risk his life for the good of the Athenian people. Prepare a ship. I beg of you."

"And what of the ship's guidance? Even were I to fill it with the very best of what the Athenian military has to offer, where would I find a pilot so willing to jeopardize his life and his boat?"

The captain, seated against the wall, looked up at the general.

"You underestimate me."

"You? Are you volunteering yourself for this mission?" asked the general.

"I am at your service."

The general sighed and turned to stare back out towards the water.

"Very well. I will enlist 300 of our finest soldiers to board your ship and set off for Aegina at the first opportunity."

"And how soon might this opportunity come about?" inquired the officer.

"Dusk. The ship shall prepare to depart tonight at dusk. With good fortune it may be able to arrive safely under the cover of darkness."

Accompanied by the ship captain and the messenger, the officer nodded and walked out of the general's quarters.

*****

Evening came, and, loaded with meat, weapons, and 300 soldiers, the captain's cargo boat pulled out of the harbor and set a course for Aegina. Within a makeshift wooden chamber on the deck, the captain and officer stood together at the helm in nervous anticipation.

"This ship is extraordinarily large," remarked the officer. "I'm pleased with the amount of reinforcements and supplies that we're able to bring with us."

"Yes," replied the captain.

Time passed. Minutes that felt like decades. The officer said nothing, and, in his silence, the captain agreed.

Finally the officer spoke. "How fast are we moving?" he asked.

"Three. Maybe four knots."

"A standard trireme does, what, about nine? Ten?"

"Yes."

"If they spot us, they're going to ram us to bits. This ship is far too large and far too slow for any evasive maneuvers."

The captain lowered his head. "Yes."

"We can only pray that tonight be the thickest of nights."

"It might be our only hope."

"My hands are shaking." The officer pushed open the door. "I need some fresh air in my lungs."

The officer stepped out, and the captain stared straight ahead, hands at his sides. Before he could lose himself in his thoughts, the officer stepped back inside.

"It's a full moon."

The captain turned around. "What?"

"It's a full moon!"

"Completely full?"

"How did we miss this!"

As the officer raised his arms, the captain looked back out ahead into the night. "I suppose it is unusual to be able to see the water so clearly," he said. "What luck."

The officer raised his voice. "Luck? It was a terrible miscalculation! We must turn around at once and remain in the harbor until the light wanes! Surely my men on the island can hold out for just another few days!"

"But we are already this far!" responded the captain with a tremble in his voice. "As you explained to the general, your soldiers are in dire need of help. We are help! We must push ahead! Another day may be a day too late!"

"This is suicide!" The officer and the captain were standing face to face, not a hand's width apart. "I demand that you turn this ship around immediately!"

The captain stepped back and looked to the prow. "I told the general that I would do my best to transport these men and these supplies to the soldiers in need. I have a mission. And I am determined to carry out my mission to the best of my abilities."

The officer prepared to object, but before he could speak, he spotted a shape up ahead in the distance.

"A trireme!"

The captain squinted. "Three triremes."

"Three triremes!"

"They're facing in our direction. I believe they may have spotted us."

"Of course they've spotted us!"

"Seven triremes."

"Seven triremes!"

"We are sailing ahead to Aegina."

"This is death! We are dead!"

"I am getting these supplies and reinforcements to the people who need them."

"The triremes - they're only a hundred yards off! We don't stand a chance!"

The captain held a steadfast gaze forward into the night. "The soldiers will get their aid. And the Aeginans will surrender to Athens."

The cargo ship surged ahead.

*****

*****

As the cargo ship pulled into the Aeginan bay, the soldiers began to disembark and were at once greeted by the relieved and ecstatic cries of delight from the weary Athenian forces on the beach. With a delivery of new supplies and new men, there was new hope. New enthusiasm. New confidence. The siege of Aegina would be able to resume the next day with a strength and intensity absent for months. With the arrival of one ship, the balance of power in the battle had shifted, and it had shifted irreversibly.

The captain and the officer stood on the shore at some distance from the gathering soldiers, staring at the moon.

The officer turned his head. "You're aware that this makes you a hero," he remarked.

The captain looked down at the sand.

"I won't ask you how you knew, because I don't think you did," continued the officer. "I only have but one question."

"What's that?"

"How are you going to explain what happened to people back in Athens?"

"I don't know," said the captain. "I don't know."

Honorable Mentions
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#40
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#34
#33
#32
#31
#30
#29
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#27
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#25
#24
#23
#22
#21
#20
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#7
#6
#5
#4

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