9:05 am games are weird to watch in Seattle. Eating breakfast while watching baseball feels wrong, and yet delightful at the same time. One thing that is never delightful these days is playing baseball in Cleveland, as the Mariners manage once again provide false hope, only to Mariners up the victory. How sad is it that I don't even have to explain or justify the use of "Mariners" as a verb? Or adjective? Or expletive?
Seattle hasn't won a game in Cleveland since 2011, and have lost in spectacular fashion during that time, as five of the last seven losses in Cleveland have been walk-offs. After today, it's now six of the past eight. Is that real? That can't possibly be real, can it? That is so Mariners.
This game had plenty of highs and lows, and was one of the craziest games we'll see all year, but the ending was as predictable as it gets.
The Mariners got off to a nice start early on, snagging a quick 2-0 lead thanks in part to a Kendrys Morales double that he thought he hit out of the park, which he didn't actually hit out of the park, or even close. The ball bounced off the lower part of the left field wall, and the end result was a hilarious big dude who doesn't know how or when to slide situation, as he tap danced his way to 2nd base.
A Morse shot up the middle scored Morales, and the M's were out to a quick lead against Scott Kazmir, and everything was going as planned. Iwakuma settled into a nice groove, and other than a double up the line to Carlos Santana, he had things working for him. He struck out Ryan Raburn to end the 2nd inning, but then he got Laz'd. Iwakuma was denied an obvious strike three, and Raburn promptly bombed a 3 run homer two pitches later.
The wheels came off a bit, and Yan Gomes bombed another mistake pitch from Iwakuma to make it 4-2 - fortunately, Scott Kazmir is still Scott Kazmir, and the M's scrambled a few back on 3 straight hits to tie it back up 4-4.
Iwakuma came back out shaky again, and conceded another run to make it 5-4. At this point, it became fairly evident that the Mariners weren't in for their typical 2-0 zipper on a getaway day, and this one could be a messy one. The M's started smacking around Kazmir again in the 4th, and chased him. The M's tied things up, and things cooled down for a bit.
Iwakuma managed to recover and retire 7 straight to get through the 6th inning, but the Mariners were unable to get anything done against Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw.
Yoervis Medina gave the lead back to Cleveland in the 7th by struggling with his control, but managed to limit the damage to 1 run despite a couple loud outs to finish the inning. Seager responded in the top of the 8th by crushing a line drive homer to right, and we were tied once again. This is the exact moment I started to sense the Mariners were going to lose another walk-off game.
In the 9th inning, Wedge decided to pinch hit Endy Chavez for Kelly Shoppach against Chris Perez, and Chavez promptly smacked a meatball into the seats to put the M's up 7-6. Just as he wrote it up. Though I was prepared for for more "saving the closer" snark before the Chavez blast, Tom Wilhelmsen quickly started warming up after the M's got the lead. In the 9th, Wilhelmsen let a couple batters on, and there were runners on the corners with 2 outs and that familiar walk-off feeling came up again with Carlos Santana at the plate. Like bile rising in the throat. Inevitable. Not a matter of if, but when.
Instead, Smoak smothered a hot grounder to first and made the toss to Wilhelmsen covering first for the win...and Wilhelmsen drops the ball.
On to extras. It wasn't for long, as in the 10th, with 2 outs, Justin Smoak absolutely annihilated a ball into the RF bleachers to give the M's the lead back. Wilhelmsen threw 22 pitches in the 9th, so Wedge pulled him.
Furbush came in to replace Wilhemsen to try to close things up and promptly allows a bloop single. Furbush bobbles the ensuing bunt, recovers, tosses it to Smoak, who drops it after Drew Stubbs is initially called out (he was safe), and there are 2 on with nobody out. I think I've read this book before.
Yan Gomes goes yard for the second time. Game.
Get to the bus. Get out of this city.
- Umpire Laz Diaz was all over the place today, expanding the strike zone early and then quickly shrinking it down to a ridiculously small size as the game went on, because he's Laz f'ing Diaz and don't you dare question him until you've earned the right to do so.
- Robert Andino had his 2nd multi-hit game of the season. My favorite kind of hits are those liners up the line where a hitter didn't really get a clean stroke on the ball and is confused that they just got a double, and is subsequently a little slow out of the box. At this point Robert Andino is surprised any time he gets a hit of any sort, let alone more than one in the same day.
- The Mariners had a chance to take the lead in the 4th, but Wedge went with the contact play with a runner on 3rd yet again and it predictably failed yet again. The worst.
- The Mariners got a leadoff runner in the 7th, and we were all treated to an exhibition of Eric Wedge style small ball, as Saunders promptly tried to bunt Ryan to 2nd and popped his bunt up, then Ryan was thrown out by a good amount trying to steal 2nd and the leadoff runner was wasted. Let 'em play.
- Kendrys Morales squared the ball up again and again today, crushing line drives all over the park from both sides of the plate. His 3rd hit was a double to right that he made sure to slide on after the 1st inning fiasco.
- Tom Wilhemsen made Asdrubal Cabrera look as stupid as you can possibly look in the 9th with an 80mph 12-6'er that just left him flailing. Wilhelmsen hasn't been striking out as many batters this year, but his stuff is still baseball porn.
- Justin Smoak continues to show some hints that he still has power, and his OPS is now up to .733 after today's bomb. I want to believe.