In a lot of ways, this game felt like three games in one: A Fun Game, A Really Freaking Weird Game, and a Free Baseball is Agony Game. I dreamt my first recap was going to be for a perfecto. But instead, I ended up recapping the most classically Mariners Mariners game ever. This might be what hazing looks like.
The Fun Game:
Let's talk about Felix
June has been a weird, bumpy road for our King. There have been moments when Felix has struggled and labored and looked human, and in a season where so much go wrong, those struggles have caused an uncomfortable tingle of anxiety. No more. Watching a pitcher throw his best stuff is one of baseball's greatest joys. Watching Felix wreck Mike Trout's day? I don't know if we have words for that. Trout struck out twice, first on a gorgeous 89 mph changeup in the first, and later (and more importantly) on an 81 mph curveball in the fourth. Here's his whiff in the first:
The King made liberal use of his curveball today, effectively deploying it and his famous changeup, as he breezed through the first three innings. The fourth would scare, with Felix walking Matt Joyce and David Freese with two out. But Felix collected himself and dispatched Albert Pujols and the aforementioned Trout. In the sixth, Felix walked Calhoun and worked into a 3-0 hole against Trout, who then grounded into a double play. His discomfort throughout the inning was obvious, with coaching staff and the trainer making trips out to the mound, but despite laboring he got Pujols to fly out, and escaped unscathed. Sadly, cramps would prevent him from returning. He ended up with a no-decision because Charlie Furbush is currently starring in a production of Fiddler on the Roof where he sings "Tradition" but changes the lyrics to "The Bullpen. The Bullpen. REGRESSION." But it was a great outing from the King, made better by the effective use of varied pitches, and the steely-eyed determination to say, "Sit your ass down, sir."
Guti! Nelson! Runs! Fun!
In the fourth, Franklin Gutierrez broke up Hector Santiago's perfecto (yup that was happening) with a liner to left. Sometimes we can have nice things. Robinson Cano, head apparently intact (?), followed up with a great, 10-pitch at bat to work a walk. That brought up Nelson Cruz, who doubled in Guti, and it looked like the Mariners were in business. With Cano at third, Kyle Seager lined out to right. It looked like the Mariners would tack on another run, but Cano was three steps down the line before he realized Kyle's liner would be caught and couldn't tag up in time. This part wasn't fun. I mean, we lost. You didn't think it would be perfect, did you?
The Really Freaking Weird Game
Willie Freaking Bloomquist
WFB did WFB things. In the top of the fifth, Willie worked a walk (whaaaa?) with two outs. That brought Austin Jackson to bat. Action Jackson had a nice little day, going 2-for-4, so I understand the desire to make it count in a more favorable situation. I get the decision to have Willie get intentionally picked off. I get all that in the same way I get the idea of dark matter or string theory or Nietzsche's eternal return. But what we saw was just so bad. The TOOTBLAN was the result of intentional strategy so I guess that disqualifies it as an actual TOOTBLAN, but WFB looked so ridiculous doing it, he was just so thoroughly Willie Fucking Bloomquist that it counts. It just does. Santiago is looking directly at him when he takes off. Willie. Buddy.
Dude on the Field
A fan ran around on the field today. For a while. Like, for a longggg while. He dodged six Angels security guards, which is surprising because the Angels play in Los Angeles, land of fit people, but maybe less surprising when you remember they actually play in Anaheim, land of Disneyland funnel cakes? Mike Blowers was deeply offended by his presence on the field. The Mariners dugout seemed generally amused.
Free Baseball is Agony Game
Look, we didn't win this baseball game. There have been a lot of disappointments this year. It's been a while since we've had the disappointment of the Mariners collectively letting Felix down (Not you, Sweet Kyle. You're perfect.).
The Bullpen, Part I
Charlie Furbush had a day. A bad day. When he came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh, the Mariner had a 1-0 lead. A hit by pitch, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice bunt later, the Angel had a runner on third. Mark Lowe then took over and gave up an RBI single to Aybar. Felix got a no-decision. Life continues much as it always has. Then in the bottom of the eighth, the Angels would add another run on a Kole Calhoun single. The times were dark.
Sweet Kyle of Ours
Sometimes people rise to the occasion. Sometimes people lift you up where you belong. Sometimes, your homegrown third basemen hits a homerun to tie the game in the ninth. Sweet Kyle, kind prince. Kyle is ours, and thanks to the organization stumbling into good decision-making, you can't have him. Rodney would ride a surprisingly smooth Rodney coaster to extra innings, but then...
The Bullpen, Part II
It felt terrible, and then hopeful, and then... a walk and single and an intentional walk left Tom Wilhelmsen with the bases loaded and Albert Pujols up to bat. Pujols who leads the AL in home runs. It felt disastrous. But Pujols grounded into a 5-2-3 double play. And Mike saved a crazy pitch from Tom. But as Bartenders sometimes do, Tom served up a knock out shot that would send us reeling. Or as Mike put it:
The Mariners are off tomorrow, and then travel to San Diego to take on the Padres. We once again hope for a turn around.