There are a few things people are going to take out of this game. One - the big positive one - is that the Mariners won. The M's bounced back from an ugly defeat at the hands of the Yankees to beat an Orioles team that not too long ago swept them in three. It wasn't the most impressive win, and the offense still didn't score, but a win's a win, and the M's are now back over .500. Back over .500! This is something we're talking about!
Another one - the big negative one - is that Chone Figgins played arguably his worst game of the year. Dropped to eighth in the lineup, Figgins responded by (A) striking out swinging with nobody on, (B) striking out swinging with the bases loaded, (C) flying out harmlessly, (D) bobbling a hot grounder by Robert Andino to lead off the eighth, (E) fumbling a potential double play by Vladimir Guerrero in the eighth, and (F) throwing away a grounder by Nolan Reimold to lead off the ninth. The Andino play was a hard play, and the Reimold play was a hard play, but the Guerrero play was not so much of a hard play, and it came at an awful time. Plus, the whole 0-for-3 thing. Figgins has the right attitude, but he is showing zero signs of progress, and the home fans are riding him now whenever he screws up. The Figgins problem does not have an easy solution.
Another one - the big funny one - is that the eventual winning run in this game scored on a Miguel Olivo bases-loaded walk. It was actually the Mariners' second consecutive bases-loaded walk, and their league-leading 11th of the season, but there's a difference between a Jack Cust bases-loaded walk or even an Adam Kennedy bases-loaded walk and a Miguel Olivo bases-loaded walk. Even though I know full well that Olivo is walking like never before, he's still Miguel Olivo, and he still has one of the highest swing rates in baseball. To imagine him walking with the bases loaded is absurd. He even helped Jake Arrieta out by swinging at and fouling off a 3-1 pitch off the plate. He walked. The fourth run won the game.
Another funny one is that Jack Cust tripled. It was Cust's second triple of his career. He now has as many triples as home runs this season. Jack Cust has more triples than Ichiro.
But the one I think deserves the most attention is the effort turned in by Doug Fister. Think back to spring training. Think back to how often we heard that Doug Fister was searching for a consistent release point. In 23.1 spring training innings, Fister walked ten guys and struck out ten guys, and I remember that, even though we all knew spring training numbers don't mean very much, we were not unconcerned. Between ST and the season I was talking to Matt Pitman, and we agreed that the pitcher we were most worried about was Fister. Not Erik Bedard. Not Michael Pineda. Doug Fister. Fister was the one we could most easily see becoming a pile of crap.
And now look where we are. It's not even just about Fister's year to date, although his year has been impressive. Just look at this start. Look what Doug Fister did to the Orioles. Fister threw 110 pitches, with 78 strikes. He kept 13 of 20 balls in play on the ground. He mixed up his pitches. He struck out nine batters. And he only walked one. While he departed having left his team in a jam in the eighth, Fister's eighth inning went groundball/groundball/strikeout/groundball. It was a good inning.
Today, Doug Fister didn't only turn in a good start. He turned in a classic awesome Felix start. He threw strikes, he missed bats, and he kept the ball down. To think that Doug Fister is even capable of this kind of outing is just incredible, given how he's been thought of since his arrival. Doug Fister is such a story.
Note that Fister threw 18 curveballs, with ten for called strikes. Also note that Brandon League threw a first-pitch breaking ball and five two-strike fastballs. The unpredictability is there, or at least the lesser predictability is there.
Right back at it tomorrow.