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2016 Seattle Mariners Advent Calendar - Day 2

The holiday spirit keeps on rolling

Day 2 - 5/21: Franklin Gutierrez Lassos the Moon

You expect Nelson Cruz to hit the ball five-hundred feet every time he connects. This doesn’t prevent you from smiling that child-like smile when it happens, of course, but you’re never surprised when he sends the small, white ball soaring through the night sky and onwards towards a seemingly never-arriving destination. Nelson Cruz hit so many impressive home runs in 2016–some of which may be covered over the next few weeks in this advent calendar–but if someone were to ask me which dinger by a Seattle player surprised/shocked/impressed/stunned me the most, I would point to May 21st, when Franklin Gutierrez and his tar-soaked Mjölnir created lightning:

We can ramble on all day about how Great American Ball Park is a hitter’s park and how most professional hitters could take a 90mph fastball deep and a million monkeys hammering a million typewriters and yada yada yada, but it is what it is: Franklin Gutierrez got a mistake pitch and he sent it to the freaking moon.

Let’s walk through the moment a little more.

The Mariners entered the game with a record of 24-17 and looked the part of the hottest team in baseball. After winning Game One of the series, 8-3, they were in prime position to take another series. King Felix got the start for the Mariners. The Reds countered with something named John Lamb. Oh, and they wore these uniforms:

Seattle Mariners v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Things started out well: Felix’s steady guidance of the first couple innings and Leonys Martin’s eighth homer of the year–a solo shot in the second inning–spotted the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Flash forward to the top of the fourth.

Nelson Cruz got things started, ripping a line drive up the middle that deflected off of Lamb’s back and into right field. Dae-Ho Lee followed with a sharp liner to third base that Eugenio Suarez badly whiffed on, giving the Mariners a 1st and 3rd, no-out situation. After Iannetta just missed a hanging breaking ball and flew out to left, the stage was set for Guti.

Lamb’s first offering was a 75 mph breaking ball that missed the outside corner. The second pitch was badly buried in the dirt, giving Guti a lovely 2-0 count.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart put down one finger and set up low and away. Lamb came set, his eyes glued to Lee over at first base. An instant later, he is rocking and firing a 90 mph fastball over the plate. It misses badly. What was supposed to be an offering on the outside corner is now a fastball that’s heading dead center. Guti goes.