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Sometimes you're lucky enough to witness a moment in a baseball game that requires no explanation to be spectacular. No build-up, no context, no prologue, just a single moment that gets you out of your chair and sticks in your memory for the rest of the season. Such a moment is exceedingly rare but impossible to mistake; as Potter Stewart would say, you know it when you see it.

This was ours.

Carl Everett's walk-off homers were terrific, and whipping the Angels on their own field is a definite cause for celebration, but they just don't compare to the experience of seeing arguably the best reliever in baseball strike out the greatest hitter I've seen in my life looking on a full count to end tonight's game. It was perfect, the kind of situation you used to play out as a little kid swinging a bat in your front yard. A one-run nailbiter coming down to Bonds for the final at bat, when he'd already blasted one bomb earlier in the game, and then Putz totally catching him off guard with the best splitter he's thrown all year...I really can't do it justice with words, but those of you in attendance or watching on TV know what I'm getting at. I shouted, jumped, clapped, and pumped my fist a good half-dozen times after Bonds got rung up. And so did you.

Barring some kind of incredible surge, the Mariners are going to miss out on the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, forcing us to wait at least another twelve months in our collective effort to erase some bitter memories. For the 30th time in 30 years of existence, fans and players alike will watch some other team celebrate a championship on some other field in some other state, barely able to imagine what it feels like to be a part of that kind of experience. But while I'll stop short of saying "this was our World Series," it certainly felt like it, at least for a fleeting moment. And it's those fleeting moments that keep bringing us back day after day, even when we know the team is going to fall well short of achieving the ultimate goal, because they give us a glimpse of what it's like to be on top, and it's breathtaking. The idea that someday we might be able to experience that feeling for real and bathe in it for an entire offseason makes all the effort and all the pain along the way completely worthwhile. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.

America, meet JJ Putz. JJ Putz, America. Get used to each other.

Biggest Contribution: JJ Putz, +26.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Richie Sexson, -16.0%
Most Important Hit: Johjima double, +12.1%
Most Important Pitch: Winn homer, -11.6%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +37.4%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +10.8%

(What is this?)

I have a whole page of notes that I jotted down during the game for purposes of including them in my recap, but I hardly know what any of them even mean anymore, because the only thing going through my head for the last hour and a half has been a looping replay of JJ Putz's 3-2 splitter. So I'll just leave you with that, because I don't want to take away from the significance of the moment by trying to talk about something else when I don't even know where to begin.

Oh, except for this Niehaus quote from the top of the fourth:

"OH WHAT A STOP BY BELTRE! Oh it's not a stop by Beltre. That'll be a double for Pedro Feliz."

Gil Meche vs. Jason Schmidt tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm PDT. Probable blackout, which would really suck for me if it weren't Gil Meche vs. Jason Schmidt.

"It was the most exciting at bat I've ever had, in my life, hands down. I could barely breathe afterward," the 29-year-old Seattle closer said, his eyes still wide.

"Yeah, it was OK," Bonds said, seated with his arms crossed on his chest like a Genie and smiling.
"Man, that closer," said Bonds, who hit his 10th homer of the season in the second inning. "He threw me a great splitter. He throws 98 miles per hour, then he drops that split on you?

"See you later," Bonds said, pantomiming a salute.
"'Joh' came out to tell me if I walked him, it was no big deal," Putz said. "Why would you want to pitch around one of the greatest hitters of all time when you have the chance to face him?"