This post was supposed to be all about Taijuan Walker. How he completely owned the Astros. Or about how he totally sucked and gave up fourteen home runs. Or about...oh god let's not think about that one. None of those things really happened though. But maybe this post can still be about Walker a little bit.
Walker had his velocity up to par, great stuff at times, and looked pretty comfortable out there. The only thing that wavered was his control on his fastball, which he left up maybe two too many times, giving up home runs to George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez (more on those later). The most important thing though is that Walker made it through the game without showing any obvious signs of being in any way unhealthy. In total, he threw six innings allowing three earned with six strikeouts and two walks.
As I'm writing this, nobody is freaking out on Twitter about some injury to our coveted Mariner pitcher. That's important. Each start he goes without any bad news breaking should be more and more of a relief. Felix once had shoulder impingement, as you've likely been reminded many times. Some scratches really are just "precautionary." There's a chance it's all smooth sailing from here. It's definitely not for certain. But a pretty well-sized hurdle was just cleared. That's awesome.
Anyway, onto the game. It was a pretty darned good one. It all started off with this:
Holy shit. George Springer. Sometimes I wonder how he does that kind of thing. That was a Giancarlo-esque homer coming from a James Jones-sized person. Thank god the Astros are bad because man he's gonna be a real problem in a few years.
After the home run, Walker managed to induce a double-play and prevent any further damage in the first. The Mariners, however, aren't impressed by 600-foot homers. Nah, these are the fucking Mariners. You wanna play that game, Springer?
This is the 2014 Seattle Mariners. No messing around here this year. You may have had their number last year, but this time they're out for blood. Four home runs. Three stolen bases (by one player!) Hard-hit outs and soft-hit base knocks. An offense so good it will literally knock your pitchers out of town.
Oh yeah, and did I mention one of the best starting rotations in baseball aided by the best bullpen in the American League? They're only going to get better.
Now, this isn't a personal attack against the Houston Astros. They're not the worst team, and in a few years they'll be the ones laughing. But this isn't about that. I can remember watching Mariner games like this one with the roles reversed, watching the M's trot out players who have no future in the organization and make great plays like this one and remembering that they had no real meaning:
I always wondered what it was like to be on the other side of games like this. To watch a good team with players who had a role in the organization's future play in games that mattered. Now I know. Now we all know. The future is now. No more five year or seven year plans or prospects who will eventually play in games that count. This was a case of a top prospect playing in a game that counted. Taijuan Walker, a possible future ace, threw a decent game against a Major League Baseball team and helped his team get the victory. James Jones collected four hits and three stolen bases and played like his life was on the line in a game that wasn't even very crucial.
What was crucial was being able to watch this game take place and see how far the Mariners really have come. They're now the second best team in all of baseball with that +56 run differential. Walker got through a huge step in his recovery process unscathed. Now, if you will, please excuse Robinson Cano as he hits a ball 410 feet.
Now, let's go and get us some more W's, Mariners. It's only just getting interesting.