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2016 Seattle Mariners Advent Calendar - Day 12

Robinson Cano defies the Cleveland curse.

Jose Rivera

Way back in April, the Mariners faced an early season test in the form of a nine-game, East Coast road trip. They had limped out to a 3-6 start but five games into the road trip and they were creeping up on .500. Because the Mariners had a date with the Angels on the West Coast the very next day, the game on Thursday, April 21 began at 9:10 am. In front of approximately ten fans, the Mariners jumped out to a 5-0 lead and it looked like the Mariners would escape Cleveland with a series win.

But there’s some clause in hidden in the MLB rule book requiring some sort of hullabaloo whenever the Mariners visit Cleveland. Remember the comeback in 2001? Or the snowed out series in 2007? These memories are ingrained into our collective minds and this series would not be denied its chance to add to that legacy.

First the rain threatened to end the game before it got to the fifth inning. Terry Francona did all he could to slow the game down, praying for a rainout that would force the Mariners to return to Cleveland later in the season. The rain would be ever present but never hard enough to halt play. If rain wasn’t enough, the Indians’ bats slowly started to come alive. First it was 5-3, then it was 7-5, and they finally tied it up in the eighth. This accursed town would not allow any Mariner joy to be had. To extra innings they went.

In the tenth, a glimmer of hope emerged. Against the Indians’ closer Cody Allen, the Mariners managed to get runners on the corners with two outs, bringing Robinson Cano up to the plate. This was still early in the season when we were still trying to figure out if Cano’s double hernia in 2015 was the cause of his struggles that year or if it was simply his body breaking down. He had a monster series in Texas to begin the year but had gone silent since then.

On the first pitch he saw from Allen, Cano emphatically declared “NO!” as he launched a fastball deep over the center field wall.

Cleveland would not suck the joy from the Mariners this time. This home run was Cano’s sixth of the year, pushing him into the American League lead.

Four hundred feet to straightaway center. The drop of the bat. The big smile he flashes as he crosses home plate. These things would become regular and welcome sights throughout the entire season. But in early April, they were just hints of the incredible year Cano would compile.