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56-91, Game Thought

I'll be honest - in a selfish way, I'm glad he didn't do it.

I'm not actually glad he didn't do it, but while we were out celebrating something important and completely unrelated, Felix Hernandez was working on a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers, and I am most certainly relieved that he didn't get all the way there while I was away. I don't know what I'd do. I don't know how I'd live with myself. After all the anticipation, after all the expectation, after all the flirting - Felix is going to do it. One of these days, he's going to do it, and it's going to be seen as the culmination of so much hard work and development, and dammit, I'm going to be paying attention. When Felix throws his no-hitter, it'll be on my watch.

Had Felix done it tonight, I would've felt like shit. It's that simple. You run a certain risk any time you miss a Felix start, and I try to do it as infrequently as possible. But sometimes it's unavoidable. Those instances are always uneasy. They're uneasy because of games like this. Christ, Felix. Timing.

Being that I missed the game and only heard about it afterwards, I obviously can't comment on the flow, or remark on how good Felix looked. I have my suspicions. I suspect that Felix looked incredible, and the results are certainly suggestive. At the same time, I suspect that Felix didn't look that different than usual. That's one of the things that makes Felix so amazing. He pretty much always throws no-hit stuff. He's just always managed to give up a hit. We're not dealing with a guy who, on the night of his eventual no-hitter, will tell the media he had his best stuff. When Felix throws his eventual no-hitter, he'll probably have his normal stuff. He'll have his normal, excellent stuff, and on that particular night, the opponents just won't hit the ball right.

Another thing that makes Felix so amazing? He made this game - and so many of his other games - entertaining. This game, for this team. I don't think a position player could've done that. If Ichiro had gone 4-4 with two home runs and an outfield assist, it wouldn't have been the same. If Franklin Gutierrez had gone 4-4 with two home runs and a diving catch, it wouldn't have been the same. Only Felix could have done this. As Dave said earlier, Felix makes it worth tuning in. He doesn't need help. Felix can be the show on his own. Pitching is the biggest contributing factor to a baseball game's entertainment value, and in Felix, we've got one of the very best pitchers in the world.

Just this morning, I was thinking about how the Rangers and the Angels always seem to hit Felix with some success. Indeed, for his career, he'd posted a 4.18 ERA against the Angels, a 4.10 ERA against the Rangers, and a 2.90 ERA against everyone else. It feels like his most frustrating starts have come most often against one of those two teams. So a game like this is even extra-refreshing. The Rangers aren't immune to Felix. They might've been before, but they clearly aren't now. Not anymore.

Oh, you can add Nelson Cruz to the list. The list consisting of Nelson Cruz and J.D. Drew. These are the two guys - the two villains - who've stood between Felix and the accomplishment for which he so clearly seems destined. Maybe those are learning experiences. Maybe Felix took something away from those showdowns, and won't make the same mistakes again. Who knows?

Anyway, go ahead and be mad. And also, go ahead and be ecstatic. I think a game like this has three takeaway messages:

  1. The Rangers don't have the answer to Felix Hernandez after all
  2. Dammit Nelson Cruz
  3. Felix Hernandez is a blessing

Think about how bad this team is. Think about how much better Felix can make it. Felix is the garlic powder in the Mariners' bare kitchen cabinet.