There was so much to enjoy about this game.
There was Felix Hernandez, resplendent against a sea of yellow and blue fans, roaring with delight as he capped seven scoreless innings. He struck out nine Astros and allowed one run -- only his third earned run over the past 16 innings. He knocked down a comebacker from Jason Castro and smoked it to Justin Smoak at first base. He turned a 1-6-3 double play to finish one of his more stunning outings in recent memory. I'm becoming more and more convinced that there is nothing the King can't do.
There was Mike Zunino, who catapulted a pitch from Rudy Owens to the yellow tape in deep right center for a stand-up double. It marked his seventh double of the year, though it was aptly remarked that had the hit been ruled a home run, it would also have been Zunino's seventh of the year.
There was Kyle Seager, who put up his second multi-hit game in three days and mashed a pair of RBI singles to center field.
There was Robinson Cano, who kept his on-base streak alive with two base hits. After tonight, he is tied at the top of the AL leaderboard with Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler for highest batting average (.326).
There was Justin Smoak, who exhibited a nifty belly-flop dive on a grounder from first baseman Marc Krauss, saving Felix a hit in the second inning. Smoak also went 2-for-4 with a double, his first extra-base hit since the series in Minnesota.
And then… there was Willie Bloomquist.
I'll never forget the first time I saw a bad hitter do something remarkable. I was sitting with a friend along the third base line at Safeco Field when Brendan Ryan stepped up to the plate against Texas right-hander Ryan Dempster. The Mariners were losing 3-1 in the 7th inning. Brendan Ryan would finish the year with a sub-.200 batting average. It wasn't pretty.
With two outs and a 1-0 count, Ryan deposited a home run in the left field bullpen. It was his third and final home run of the year, but the first one that I had witnessed in person. I'm sure that on the outside I was screaming or crying or hugging a stranger -- anything a normal, offense-deprived Mariners fan would do -- but on the inside I was absolutely flabbergasted. It didn't matter anymore if the M's won that day (they didn't). Brendan Ryan was capable of hitting a home run, and that was enough.
I hope that is the chord that was struck in fans' hearts tonight when Willie Bloomquist hit his first home run in three years. It was a glorious shot off of rookie southpaw Rudy Owens, parked right in the corner between the King's Court and Edgar's. It was beautiful. It was everything a home run should be for a man who hasn't hit a home run in 663 plate appearances (h/t to Jeff Evans for that bit).
As Scott pointed out in the game thread yesterday, judgment day is coming soon for the Mariners roster at the hands of Lloyd McClendon. Until then, however, I'm going to spend this holiday weekend basking in the glow of one bonafide WFB home run.
Tomorrow, Brandon Maurer will face off against left-hander Dallas Keuchel at 7:10 p.m. PST on Turn Back the Clock Night. The Mariners will sport retro blue and yellow uniforms, which would've worked much better tonight with the retro King's Court. Opportunity missed there, marketing department.