I don't know where that came from, but I am more glad than I can articulate that I got to see it in person.
It almost didn't happen too, which as the night wore on weighed more and more heavily on my mind. I wasn't supposed to be in Seattle this weekend. I had decided to attend the game before I knew Morrow was going to start. I ended up with tickets for Saturday instead and had to wait around an inning to exchange them. During that wait, I contemplated perhaps just watching the game in a bar. It seemed too perfect. Too filled with random coincidences to actually come true. But batter after batter came up and batter after batter sat down and after a point there was no rational way to deny it; Brandon Morrow had shown up to pitch.
Finally getting to my new seats, I discerned that it was going to be tough/impossible to judge the location on pitches from my vantage point, so instead I focused on the hitters themselves and their reactions. Overwhelmingly, what stuck out to me was the pitch selection. Maybe it's because Felix has ruined me in that regard but I was routinely flabbergasted to see Morrow start off hitters late in the game with offspeed pitches and routinely get himself ahead in the count with swinging strikes. The Yankees were sitting fastball (as they should have been) and Morrow was making them pay for it.
Notably, with a 3-2 count on Hideki Matsui with one away in the 8th, Morrow threw a changeup following consecutive fastballs prior. With a no-hitter going, a good left handed hitter at the plate, about 100 pitches already thrown and a 3-2 count, Brandon Morrow threw a changeup. It didn't matter that it missed outside. What matters is that Morrow trusted his changeup enough to throw it in that situation and furthermore, it was a perfect situation for it. That was excellent pitching.
I want to jump back a bit to the sixth inning because that's when it started. I've been to more than a handful of Mariner games over the years and the only reason I haven't been to more is that I might have been spoiled by the memories of SafeCo during the 2000 and 2001 playoffs. Having seen playoff games live, to see what SafeCo could be like as an environment, it angers me to experience what it has become. I don't want to go to games to just sit in my seat and watch. I can do that from home. I want to freak out a little bit, hoot, holler, yell, to really immerse myself in the all together meaninglessness of what is, when you come right down to it, just entertainment. That's part of why real organic game thread emotion was so much fun back in 2007, because it was like being back amongst crowds that cared.
Well, that feeling came back starting around the sixth inning. With a raucous crowd in house because of the numerous Yankee fans, there was already a more amped up atmosphere in place and it took hold in the final at bat of the top of the sixth inning.
Few things get me more than two strike chants and when I'm not feeling too apathetic while at a game, I love to do them for myself because god knows nobody else in SafeCo is going to join in unless the scoreboard tells them to. And rarely would that ever happen except for J.J. in the 9th and sometimes for Felix if he's pitching deep into a game. Even then, all I've ever seen is just the standard synchronized clapping that comes to a climax far too early and then needs more scoreboard prompting to start anew.
With the count 1-2 on Jeter, the clapping began. The scoreboard was silent and people were starting to clap. Jeter fouled off a fastball and the clapping continued. It got louder even. And lo and behold, some people stood up. They stood up! It was only the sixth inning and people were cheering of their own accord. My joy at such a marvel was through the roof and the place exploded on Jeter's swing and a miss.
And it didn't subside. 0-2 on Rodriguez in the next frame, the majority of the stadium stood up. There was only one out and they stood anyways. Brandon, you gave us almost eight beautiful frames today and a reason to look ahead with a slightly bigger gleam of hope than we had coming in. More importantly to myself though, you took me back seven years to game five of the ALCS, to the last time I remember SafeCo ever acting like that.
Thank you Brandon. Bravo.