I want to take a break from pessimism and disappointment for a little while. A few days ago marc w reminded me of Rafael Soriano's classic encounter with Nomar Garciaparra back in 2003. Anyone who was watching the game remembers exactly what I'm talking about, but in short, Soriano inherited a 3-1 lead in the eighth and, with two men in scoring position, struck out Nomar on three pitches to end the inning. One of my fondest memories of the past few years, it was an absolutely dominating at bat, and the moment I knew in my heart that Soriano was going to be a very good pitcher for a very long time.
It got me thinking about similar moments for other young Mariners, both past and present. What are the plays you can think of that, when you saw them, indicated to you that the player in question was going to be something special?
This is what I was able to come up with off the top of my head. (Bear in mind I've only been able to watch the Mariners every day for a few years. Those of you who've been around a little longer can undoubtedly go further back.)
Rafael Soriano: Three-pitch strikeout of Nomar
Ichiro: Guns down Terrence Long at third base from right field
Yuniesky Betancourt: Drives home Jeremy Reed with a triple for the only run of a 1-0 win
Felix Hernandez: With two on in the eighth, protecting a 1-0 lead, gets Nick Punto to ground back to the mound to end the threat in his home debut (same day as Betancourt's. That game ruled.)
Willie Ballgame: Doesn't have one, never will
Mark Lowe: Strikes out Bernie Williams on three pitches with the go-ahead run on third base in Yankee Stadium
JJ Putz: The Barry Bonds strikeout
Mike Cameron: Robs Derek Jeter of a home run in one of his first games as Griffey's replacement
Those are the big ones that come to mind (I couldn't think of anything for Lopez). Which ones did I forget?