I suppose it would be a bit hyperbolic to call this game we just had an "instant classic." For one thing, it's still the first week of the regular season. Nobody is out of the playoffs yet, spring temperatures are sucking hard-hit balls back down towards the ground, and some starters haven't even made their first starts of the year. We don't objectively know if the A's are going to be a threat this season, we don't know if Sonny Gray K's and Ben Zobrist doubles will haunt our playoff dreams, and we don't even fully comprehend the meaning of each win or loss with only five games in the books.
On the other hand, we can say whatever we want because the Mariners just stole a dramatic eleven inning baseball game from the obnoxious Oakland A's and by all means, it was an instant classic. The lead changed five times. Eleven pitchers were used. There were multiple outs at the plate, some as dramatic as you'll ever get in this post plate-blocking era. Nelson Cruz hit his first home run as a Mariner. Fernando Rodney almost ate an A's batboy because he had been in stuck in the bullpen for like five hours without a lunch break, which is a serious violation of California labor laws.
There were numerous positive takeaways from this here baseball game, which is great news considering the ball of chewed watermelon gum rolled up in a ball with a hair on it that was the last couple of days. For starters, J.A. Happ was every bit as good as he needed to be to justify the Michael Saunders trade, which is a sentence I am writing from my brain and not my heart. Today he lasted six innings with some change, giving up two earned runs on 82 pitches and seven hits.
Now simply reading those words up there won't tell you want Happ could have done today. His two earned runs came in the seventh inning, an inning he arguably shouldn't have pitched but in which no manager in their right mind would have pulled him out of. Still, it seemed clear that he was gassed by that point, because the first six innings of the game saw him giving up only three hits while generating seven ground ball outs, two pop outs, and a K.
Here he is getting Tyler Ladendorf to pop out in foul territory to end the fifth inning. Note he's still hitting 93 at this point and locating the edges of the plate quite well:
By the sixth, however, he was starting to show some cracks around the seams, his pitch count rising and location starting to drop off. As I said earlier, I don't know what manager would have pulled their starter here, considering he had only 74 pitches and had just recorded thirteen consecutive outs. But Happ came in in the seventh to give up four of his seven hits on the day, and all of them came on either the first pitch right over the center of the plate or on the second or third while hitters were forcing him to locate the zone.
Still, it can't be overlooked that he had a great first outing, all things considered. And you know who else had a good first "out-ing?"
Yes this is Mr. Nelson R. Cruz, giddy as a schoolboy after making his first baseball go Out as a Seattle Mariner, and it couldn't have come at a better time. In fact, this came the inning after Happ's mini-meltdown in the seventh, which ruined the M's 1-run lead from Dustin Ackley's solo dinger in the third. And Cruz had reason to be silly here, as the two runners he plated, Austin Jackson and Justin Ruggiano, were waiting for him to hit while on base, because they are good baseball players and on the Seattle Mariners. Fine, part of it also had to do with an overturned out call at second on a failed neighborhood play to get Jackson, but you tell me you don't prefer the first way.
See, luck may win ballgames from time to time, but it doesn't feel like the safest bet to ensure future victories. And the Mariners had a whole truckload of luck today, following not only the aforementioned overturned force (seriously, have you ever seen that happen?), but also an upheld challenge at the plate that saw Danny Farquhar flipping a comebacker to get Josh Phegley out on a play that...well...what matters is what they rule, right?
After Cruz' dinger things were feeling pretty swell and easy until the A's A'd because what else would they do? You know that whole thing about Billy Beane not watching the games? How he always takes off his executive clothes and runs on the treadmill while occasionally checking the score on his Blackberry? Bullshit. It's all bullshit. Billy Beane has some big huge control board in the basement of O.co where he manipulates reality at the push of a button like the Wizard of Oz. Need an RBI double from Ben Zobrist with the boys down two in the eighth? Need a stupid double from a walking can of Red Bull after a rookie reliever just made Ike Davis look foolish on three pitches? BEEP BOOP BEEP DING A'S TIE THE GAME you fucking asshole. That's the real reason they will never tear down the coliseum.
And yet, Mr. Beane couldn't pull off all his magic when it really mattered, as you can see by this absolutely bonkers play that saved the A's from walking off in the bottom of the 10th:
brad miller guns down ben zobrist at the plate http://t.co/8egEvcZEGj— Jose Rivera (@Jose8BS) April 11, 2015
One inning later, it was Brad Miller doubling Logdog home, and the Mariners walked back to the hotel with their second win in the books. Rodney got the save, and ostensibly, will be eating real food rather than human flesh this evening, although to be perfectly honest with you, I can't guarantee that sentence's veracity by any means.
Tomorrow it's the King and a chance to reset the season and forget what came after Monday. I'd tell you to get excited, but, you know.