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1986 Mariners: Miracle Workers

11/30: 3-2 win (@Toronto)

12/1: 7-6 loss (@Toronto)

12/2: 5-3 loss (@Toronto)

12/3: 5-2 loss (@Milwaukee)

12/4: 8-7 win (@Milwaukee)

12/5: 13-11 win (vs. Boston)

Record: 12-16

Forget those first five games; the win tonight against the Red Sox was epic.

The matchup looked ugly. The Mariners - just 1-8 at home - were sending no-name southpaw Matt Young up against hotshot youngster Roger Clemens, who came into the game with a 1.90 ERA and 27 hits allowed in 47.1 innings of work. The odds were long, and the only prayer the M's had was that Young would somehow last long enough to turn this into an incrementally more favorable battle of the bullpens.

It didn't work out that way. Thanks in part to sucking and in bigger part to a pair of first-inning errors by Danny Tartabull and Dave Henderson, the Sox were up 4-0 before the M's came to bat and 8-2 by the end of the second. While the M's had struck against Clemens with two solo shots, Young got blasted out of the game by a three-run homer by Jim Rice, and as soon as Jim Beattie came in for a little mop-up work, fans in the Kingdome knew the rest of the evening wasn't going to go very well. Beattie was brought in to perform one job, after all, and it wasn't to pitch in winnable games.

Beattie did his little dance of death on the mound for a few innings, and it was an 11-3 ballgame going into the stretch. Phil Bradley's homer in the bottom half was cool - his second solo shot on the day - but a seven-run deficit isn't much better than an eight-run deficit, so it came as little consolation. Down 11-4 in the eighth, everyone just wanted to call it a night and go home.

Everyone, that is, except the Mariners. Alvin Davis and Dave Henderson led off with back-to-back doubles, and two batters later Spike Owen doubled home another run to make it 11-6. Rob Woodward then came out of the bullpen to replace Clemens, but he offered little relief, as John Moses singled to make it 11-7, and Harold Reynolds and Ken Phelps each drew walks to load the bases with two down. Up came Danny Tartabull, and with the stadium beginning to sense something special, Woodward's first-pitch fastball got blasted into the seats. 11-11.

The Kingdome exploded. A seven-run inning turned this into a whole new ballgame, and after a rattled Woodward walked Davis on four pitches, Henderson came up and drilled a ball over Armas's head in center, sending everyone into a frenzy. What looked to be an unbelievable go-ahead double was negated, however, when a relay nailed Davis at the plate.

Even so, despite the deflating third out, the air was electric. A re-energized Pete Ladd went to work for his third inning and, after the M's couldn't come up with anything in the ninth, went to work for his fourth. With Wade Boggs standing on second base, Ladd struck out Jim Rice on five pitches to end the top of the tenth, his seventh whiff in four frames. He allowed two hits and walked none.

That's when the Mariners got sick of all the drama. Phil Bradley led off the tenth with a single - his fourth hit of the game - which brought Ken Phelps to the plate. And for the ninth time on the young season, Phelps took a righty out of the ballpark. 13-11. Final. And there was much rejoicing.

28 games into the season, the top of this lineup is looking fierce. Bradley, Phelps, and Davis are all in the league's top ten in OPS (although Davis doesn't qualify since he's benched against lefties). The bottom of the order may be pathetic, but 1-through-6, I might take this over any other lineup in the league. Right now it ranks second in the Majors in homers and seventh in runs. It's also first in strikeouts, so you know it's exciting. Kingdome mirage? Not on your life. They're good, even if Bob Kearney isn't.

Pitching. Blah. Pete Ladd rocks.

4-0 against Curt Schilling's Red Sox. One more to go tomorrow before three at home against both the Blue Jays and Brewers. Right now I'm three games ahead of the actual 1986 team's pace. I call that a success.