You kind of knew that it was only a matter of time until one of these bullpens fell apart tonight, considering that it had been only like, what, 20 hours since these two teams were playing in the 16th inning last night? The fact that it was the Angels bullpen that ended up shitting the bed doesn't really mean much for the next 50 games of Angels baseball, and likewise, the fact that Mariners hitters were the ones to break the subtle truce doesn't mean a ton for the future of the Mariners' playoff hopes. But the fancy thing about baseball standings is that you just have to win at the end of the night, and win is what the Mariners did.
And it could have been a lot worse. in the top of the 12th inning today, it felt like the only thing we had in store was more weird baseball with Stefen Romero and Endy Chavez, and holy shit, I can think of few worse fates than being subject to that. But not tonight! Even with a chance of a meltdown after taking the lead in the 12th. Let's take a brief look at what happened before all this went down:
- Felix: Felix was simultaneously his usual good self and oddly confusing tonight, going seven innings with only two hits and forcing nine Angels hitters to strike out back into the dugout like the ashamed fools they felt like. Felix didn't give up a hit until the fourth, when Mike Trout (of course) doubled on the seventh pitch of his at bat. For the rest of the night, he was the King. Except he did give up four walks, including two back-to-back BB's to start off the seventh inning, which ultimately forced this game into extras. After Pujols and Hamilton both got on base by looking at some pitches, Howie Kendrick slapped a ball right up the middle of the infield and into Brad Miller's glove. Miller could have either tossed the ball a foot to Cano, tagged the runner, or done anything other than confusedly hold it for a brief second, which is what he did. So instead he threw it to first a second later, missing Morrison's glove and sending Pujols home standing. Yeah, yeah, Brad could have done this a lot better, but Felix never walks consecutive batters, and sometimes shit just happens. Unfortunately tonight "shit" is what sent this into extras and we narrowly escaped by 10:20 pm.
- Garrett Richards: Richards carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, broken up only by a double from Dustin Ackley. Perfection is really a funny word--see, we all know that there were a bunch of perfectos in 2012 and all, but to actually, truly be perfect is really fucking hard. Today should prove that, as Richards was on point, with, you know, maybe a little assistance from something or other, but ultimately pitching within his means as a starter in 2014 against an offense not exactly known for stringing together a multitude of hits. But still, it seemed clear that either someone told Richards he couldn't touch the brim of his hat by the sixth or to cool it, and suddenly he couldn't spot any of his breaking balls. Perfection is incredibly rare and difficult, even with the assistance of materials like pine tar that everyone in baseball uses. See, there have only been a handful of perfect things in the world: Taxi Driver, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, Lompoc Brewing's Proletariat Red, and Felix Hernandez in 2012. None of those things include the words "Garrett Richards" or "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," and for reason. Still, the Mariners would need more than one run on the evening, and despite getting it here, the night was far from over.
- Jesus Sucre: Sucre was the nine inning MVP of the night, knocking in Ackley from second in the sixth, framing a myriad of pitches from Felix and the rest of the bullpen, and throwing out Josh Hamilton at second on an attempted steal that maybe even Mike Zunino wouldn't have had. He was finally pulled from the game in the 12th after the Mariners' bats woke up, but the game ball should certainly go to him tonight. I complained more than anyone else when the M's callously released John Buck on his birthday this year, but after the last couple of weeks--and tonight--I have to say that I'm much more comfortable throwing Sucre out there on the second day of an extra innings nightmare. Of course, if we could just avoid the extras both times we would all be happy, but don't get too greedy.
12th inning magic: I say magic because did you watch any of these two games? Had I not been familiar with the rest of the M's season I would be baffled how this team still holds onto the second wild card spot with the offense they have been showing. Today it took them until the 12th inning to break the stalemate, with Kyle Seager ripping a double off of Angels' reliever Joe Thatcher, and scoring on a single from Logan Morrison that just missed an infield glove (I still believe we need to make LogDog catch on here). Mike Scioscia walked out of the bullpen to bring in Mike Morin, who promptly threw a 74mph changeup to Endy Chavez. Endy Chavez, eternal GOAT of the Seattle Mariners franchise, proceeded to lay down the greatest bunt in the history of baseball, which I now present to you courtesy of @cespedesBBQ:
Endy Chavez with arguably the greatest bunt of all time https://t.co/cftDmp9eWp— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) July 20, 2014