Normally, a 3-1 Mariners score is a staid affair. In a win, someone gets lucky on a bad pitch and runs into one; in a loss, someone gets lucky on a bad pitch and runs into one while wearing the other team's colors. There are a few pops, the game inevitably goes on too long, and at the end of it, you retreat to the loving embrace of your family. So if you were to look at the box score for tonight's baseball contest against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the county of Orange, you might think that the Jesus Montero home run was the story. And while that was certainly a story, it was not the story. No no no. Tonight, on the eve of Lookout Landing's first ever Kyle Day, we received a Kyle Day treat. A little gift of which we are surely undeserving. Tonight, we witnessed, if I can borrow a phrase from our Sweet Prince, fucking magic. But first, the appetizers.
To call it an appetizer is a little unfair. Hisashi Iwakuma once again pitched a very nice game, and he did his greatest damage to the heart of the Angels' order. Top of the 4th, Kuma just schools Trout on an 84 mph splitter. The bottom just dropped out of it. There was a split second after Trout flailed at the pitch and missed where you could practically hear Trout's big meaty head scream, "No! Why? Dear God, why?!" Goldsmith said right before that swing that in the first half Trout was playing like he'd be an MVP candidate again. In the first half, that was true. In this game? Mike Trout was 0-4, striking out three times, including that hacking swipe he took in the 4th.
Kuma went 6 innings before exiting with tightness in his lower back, but he notched an impressive 9 strikeouts, and the only run he allowed came on a solo shot from David Murphy. While that pitch was regrettable, any night where you hold Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols to 1 hit is a good night. The fact that they flopped about like sad fish is even better. Those three wouldn't have much better luck with the bullpen, and Trout's strike out at the hands of Carson Smith was most gratifying. With runners on the corners and two outs, Mike thought, "I want to hit the ball now?" And Carson said, "Nah." Then Carson threw a filthy slider and swag strutted to the dugout.
Carson Smith v. Mike Trout is the best damn thing. Well the best damn thing that wasn't Kyle Seager vs. Jered Weaver. The whole bullpen performed admirably, meaning I don't really remember their pitching (fun) and reminding us of so many good games in 2014, and Tom Wilhelmsen got his 11th (!!!) save of the year.
It was sort of a ho-hum affair for a lot of the game. Kyle got the Mariners going with a sharp double in the first inning. He wanted to hit a home run right over the 380 tag in right, but missed by not that much. Sadly, they closed the roof in the fourth. Can Kyle have his at-bat back? In the fourth, Cruz picked up hit 166 on the season with a single, tying a career high. At one (many) point, Mark Trumbo swung at a 14 mph curve ball (I mean, probably), then popped one out because Nathan wrote quasi nice things about him today/he's weird at baseball. It was all tied up at 0-0 until Jesus Montero stepped into the batter's box. Now earlier today I made fun of old Lloyd for his insistence on having Montero in vs. a righty. I wasn't wrong but I was also very, very wrong. Because in the bottom of the 4th JESUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS hit a three run home run and Lloyd revealed himself to be a genius.
Dream Weaver sent a 12 mph (actually 68) curveball down the middle of the plate and Jesus smacked it DEEP into the back of the Mariners' bullpen to give the M's a 3-0 lead. Other than that, the Mariners had runners in scoring position an awful lot but were terrible at driving them in so some things remain the same.
TOOTBLANNNNS. TOOTBLANS FOR ALL. I mean, mostly people named Ketel. In the second, after singling on a groundball to Aybar, Marte tried to steal with Kyle batting and while he got to second, the ball popped out in an awkward way off an awkward throw, and Marte never touched the bag and was called out. It was a bummer. He also popped off the bag after Kyle grounded out in the eighth and Aybar kept the tag on him. Not great. Not lethal. Ketel also had a rough at-bat in the fifth when he hit the ball very sharply right where the Angels were and not where they weren't, inspiring Goldsmith to inform the viewing audience, "Sometimes the BABIP monster grabs you right by the ankles." We love you, Goldsmith. For their part, the Angels lost their one really good chance to score in the third when Robinson Cano and Jesus Sucre combined for a fielder's choice that nabbed Perez at home.
The Greatest Show on Earth
And then... OH MY GOD. Look if you can't appreciate Kyle's little scootch wiggle down into his batting stance, you're probably not alive inside. Every batter has funny stuff that they do, and if you're a pitcher and you're trying to get into a rhythm and you're throwing slow, weird garbage, I get how it would bug you. Except that Kyle is 1) a Sweet Prince 2) shockingly consistent in his batter's box routine. Sure he's trying to throw guys off calling for time. But he doesn't step out late, and he generally only takes time when it is given to him. He's a very polite young man. He's mild of manner. He's a hug monster. And tonight, he was pissed.
Let's go to the tape:
Pitch 1: Seager takes down and in for ball 1. Weaver Threat Level: Two hot dogs at Safeco. You're uncomfortable, but the nitrates haven't killed you yet.
Kyle calls for time, which he is granted, and Weaver starts squawking.
Now, did I time this screen grab to set up the swears to come? I mean, sure. I'm human. Like Kyle later said, I don't quit on my team. And I have been training for this moment my whole life. Somewhere between calling time and adjusting his lower half, Weaver says something to Kyle. We don't know what he said because Kyle, ever the gentleman, didn't repeat it post game, and the broadcast didn't get it, but whatever it was, it lead to Kyle Duerr Seager, Sweetest Prince, Husband, Father, Humanitarian, being the most pissed off I have ever seen him. Kyle did a swear. Look. LOOK AT IT.
He did a lot of them. The batter's box was his canvas and his swears were his paint. Because he looked dead in the camera and said, "Fuck you." Like, a lot. Kyle appears to say to the ump, "Have you ever seen that before" before calling for time in the most assertive way possible. His arm says, "You'll go when I say you'll go." His mouth says "Swears swears swears." Just kidding. His mouth said, "I'm fucking ready."
Pitch 2: Weaver beans Kyle with an 83 mph fastball (awwww little buddy, you threw as hard as you could, didn't you?) Weaver Threat Level: MIDNIGHT, but the kind you don't run out of. This is an eight hot dogs at Safeco alarm fire. You're uncomfortable, you've been plunked by the baseball, and if you're Jered Weaver, you've been ejected from the game.
There are so, so, sooooo many great things here. First, the decision to hit a guy when your team probably really "Kyle Seager says fucking" need to win the game because you're (at the time) three games out of the second wild card is a tremendously dumb choice. But set the strategy aside. LOOK AT THE BENCH. LOMO IS READY TO COME AT A BRO. On a different broadcast angle, Nelson menaces with his bat menacingly. Jesus Sucre is ready to clock someone. KYLE DID ALL THE SWEARS. This moment was magical. Every now and then you get a night like this. Kyle basically looks into the camera and asks, "You talking to me?" And then like the fucking (swear) bad ass he is, tells Weaver, "I'm fucking ready." You don't rush the Sweet Prince. The Sweet Prince rushes you.
Freese was hit twice in this series for the Angels but this was a whole different thing. It takes a special kind of something to spend the evening throwing the slowest junk pitches in baseball and then be miffed when a guy you've faced thirty times does the same thing he does during every major league at-bat he's ever had. We've dealt with a lot of shit (swear) this year. We've taken hard loses, we've seen playoff dreams dashed. We've endured. And tonight, as if he spoke for all of us, Kyle Seager looked at Jered Weaver, and his dumb, slow pitches and said, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." This was one of the more fun moments of the year. Kyle flashed great feeling. He did some swears. He showed he could get pissed. That he comes from THE HAWTEST CORNER. Or as our good friend Jose said in the beautiful art he made: How do you like them apples?