You have to wonder these things:
You have to wonder if a 30-minute-plus bottom of the fifth, which included a long though ultimately successful replay challenge, on a cold night, made James Paxton's lat muscle tighten up.
You have to wonder if Fernando Rodney's total lack of consistency from hitter to hitter—he seems to morph from the shittiest pitcher on earth to the greatest at random—somehow instilled in him an ability to weather the psychological pressures of closing major league baseball games.
You have to wonder if one day Corey Hart is going to hit a baseball so hard that it will pass into another dimension of the multiverse. (Assuming that's how it works; I'm not caught up on Cosmos.) I mean, look at this thing.
You have to wonder if the Mariners are trying to test our loyalty by starting both the season opener and the home opener by falling behind in the first inning, looking for a couple more innings like a completely impotent offensive team and inspiring a chorus of "here-we-go-agains," before coming alive and winning in a perfectly respectable fashion.
And you have to wonder whether this will go down as:
1) The day that Corey Hart, who went on to win Comeback Player of the Year with a 30-homer, 100-RBI, 3.5 WAR season, had his first of many big games for the 2014 Mariners.
2) A mildly entertaining home opener.
3) The day that James Paxton, on his way to his 5th win in 6 major league starts, was cruelly struck down by fate and suffered a career-derailing injury.
Good lord, let's hope for doors number 1 or 2. As was pointed out by multiple M's beat writers on Twitter, Stephen Pryor's season-ending injury in 2013 was initially diagnosed as a "lat strain." It's an intentionally vague diagnosis, because without the MRI that Paxton will undoubtedly undergo soon, not even the world's greatest medical professional can say how serious it is. Let's everyone keep our fingers crossed on this one.
I have some bullets for you to peruse:
- Among the Mariner non-players, trainer Rick Griffin got the biggest pre-game ovation, followed by, for some reason, interpreter Antony Suzuki. Was it Multilinguists Night or something?
- Felix got by far the biggest cheers, way more than Cano. As it should be.
- Angels starter Hector Santiago had a completely different approach in this game than he did last Wednesday. In that game he was throwing his sinker around 91 mph, tonight the radar gun had him around 95. I don't think it was a radar gun issue, b/c Paxton's pitches seemed to be around the same velocity as MLB had from last Wednesday. Santiago did seem to be throwing harder, and he also seemed to run out of steam, and lost control of his fastball "later" in the game...he only lasted 4.1 innings.
- Twice, Kyle Seager worked back from an 0-2 count to get a walk. He's not putting up numbers yet, but thankfully he's confident enough not to press.
- The M's got their first three runs after Brad Miller swung and missed a two-out, two-strike pitch, but made it to first when Chris Iannetta couldn't corral the pitch. Hooray, arcane rules of baseball!
- In the 4th, Paxton struck out David Freese swinging on a 95-mph four-seamer, Josh Hamilton swinging on a 90-mph cutter, and Howie Kendrick swinging on an 84-mph curve.
- Paxton at one point retired 13 in a row, but his defense deserves a lot of the credit. Seager stole a two-out double from Pujols and had another nice stab of an Ianetta laser. Ackley and Romero also both made fine running catches.