When I was ten years old, I went on a field trip with my fifth grade science class to visit Mt. St. Helens in early April. It was about a two hour drive to and from the site, and while I remember very little about the lava tunnels and Visitor Center I do remember two things about that day: one, the girl I was in love with at the time, Jessica, was sitting across the aisle from me on the bus ride home, which was about the most terrifying yet opportunistic thing to ever occur in my then-tiny life which has been often been made a living hell due to crippling and near-constant social anxiety. The second thing I remember about that day was wiping snot into the arm of my Quicksilver hoodie that was by then then more liquid than cotton, and the taste of my tears as I sneezed the entire drive home because I was too lazy to remember to take my allergy pills on a regular basis. Two and a half hours, snot bubbles. Despair.
What I just described to you was the ninth inning of today's baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. In this inning, Fernando Rodney approached the mound with a four run lead won under tooth and claw after a rough outing from Felix Hernandez, and then he proceeded to give up one, then two, then three, and finally four runs to send an all but guaranteed victory into extras on the road. He walked two, gave up two doubles, and made you feel ecstatic when a double play only scored one run. He didn't blow a save because he blew more than a save which is a stupid thing to say about a person who actually kind of had you believing in saves last year. Lloyd never even seemed to think about pulling him for a well-rested Yoervis Medina. It felt like two and a half hours. There was snot. There was despair.
Now on the other hand, you kind of have to be happy that Rodney chose to melt down here on April 12th rather than, oh I don't know, let's just pick a random meaningless date out of the hat, lets see here why not go with SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2014. And since I've randomly chosen this game out of the ether, let's look to see what our very own Patrick Dubuque had to say that day, if it can bring anything to light on the collapse between the then and the now. I'd like for you to read these words and then think about what happened today and then maybe, I don't know, buy a Nelson Cruz jersey or two and thank god, thank him, that Endy Chavez is
on the Tacoma Rainiers not on the Seattle Mariners.
It was heedless, senseless violence. McClendon was bound by his own maxim never to pull the closer, despite the fact that Yoervis Medina was warm. His confidence in Rodney, in the face of all evidence, was the team's undoing. Rodney's pitches sailed away from the plate like lemmings hurling themselves into the sea. It was a gas leak of a loss, a cartoon anvil.
There is only one single word from that paragraph that doesn't apply to this here baseball game we just had, and somehow, through the luck of whatever it is that has diverted one of the trillions of gigantic asteroids out there from destroying all life on earth as we know it, that word is "loss." That is because the Seattle Mariners answered Fernando Rodney's meltdown with an incredibly timely home run off the tip of the bat of Nelson Cruz in the top of the tenth inning before Yoervis Medina notched a 12-pitch save (nine of his pitches were strikes, but you know, who's counting?).
It's all kind of stupid, too, when you think that the Mariners had lost this game approximately twice every single inning,. Felix came out of the gate looking fine, but then reportedly tweaked his left ankle a bit while fielding in the first. An inning later the bases were loaded, and Felix was sitting at only 91 on his fastball. Logan Morrison saved a run by firing home on what would have otherwise been a get-one-out-let-one-go play to first that was this close and I love you Billy Butler, never change you big beautiful lumbering rhino of a man.
In the third, Felix walked Sam Fuld on five pitches up by his ears, and by then it seemed clear that something was wrong. Luckily he was able to take advantage of Fuld trying to steal second with his head down to the ground like a racehorse wearing blinders, pulling off a great double play at first after Zunino snagged the foul ball
Mike Zunino and Felix make a heads up double play http://t.co/KcoQuAbQms— Jose Rivera (@Jose8BS) April 12, 2015
But still, it was quite a disappointing outing from the King, even though he avoided the loss through that asteroid's luck of three. We've all been worrying about it for years, and someday we just may have to face our fears, but it doesn't appear that that day is today: Felix's difficulties seemed to stem from a tweaked left ankle and a pulled quad in the third, possibly on that very play up in Jose's tweet. By all accounts his arm, elbow, and shoulder are fine, and it was simply a matter of leg balance keeping him from being the King we know during a rare one-strikeout performance. Pitching is hard, and it requires your entire body, which is why CC Sabathia should just stay fat and also why Bartolo Colon is an American hero.
But yes--back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Felix sat down in the top of the sixth inning with a 3-run deficit, and also the Mariners had yet to record a single hit. But suddenly, a double from Dustin Ackley. A single from Mike Zunino. Brad Miller scoring one on a sac fly. A walk from Austin Jackson. Seth Smith, moving the runners up while offering a sacrifice to the BABIP gods. That holy sacrifice was immediately rewarded on a Josh Reddick bobble of a Robinson Cano hit--a real sentence I just typed about a player on the A's not doing an obnoxious defense thing that pissed you off, and the Mariners had tied up the game despite their best efforts to the contrary.
Oh, we're not done. A Nelson Cruz walk. A Kyle Seager RBI single, and suddenly the Mariners had a one-run lead, Felix was in line to win the game, and all was right with the world. And while we are simply listing good things that happened to the Seattle Mariners this afternoon, I'll add the fact that an inning later, Rickie Weeks hit a pinch-hit dinger to straight away center to score three insurance runs, and by now there was just about nothing you could do to take that win away from Felix, even though it was seemingly one of the three worst games he had pitched in years. Two scoreless innings from Danny Farquhar only further ensured that reality would come to fruition.
But alas, the snot, the embarrassment, the moment you learn that the world is not governed by a system of equal exchange and optimistic benevolence.
She's laughing at you.
They're all laughing at you.
Look at it, it's all over your shirt.
Now, a win is a win. The 2014 Mariners don't pull this one off and we sure as hell don't even need to talk about what came before. Unfortunately, this wasn't anything wildly out of the ordinary for Rodney, but that means that--at the very least--we don't need to worry about something unprecedented destroying the bullpen. With today's game the Mariners have reset their season and really, honestly, god this is so hard to type, clawed out a hell of a win today.
This could really be an incredible season. They may really have something here, hiding behind wild arms and lumbering bats and questionable platoons. Now if someone could just tell them to take their damned allergy pills like grownups, we could really be in good shape.