I think one of the reasons baseball appeals to me is that the moments build quite simply. There’s a single, then another single, maybe a walk, and then all of a sudden there’s a ball to the gap. It sails and sails and the legs of those on base seem to churn for an eternity as you simply wait. Who scores? Can he get the triple? Perhaps the greatest part of the thrill is the chance it never happens. The chance that the ball to the gap is never hit, that it’s a groundball to short. That it’s strike three.
On July 18th, down 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Mariner’s manufactured such a moment.
Now, I probably don’t need to remind many of you what it was like having Adam Lind with the M’s last year, or maybe I do because you erased the memories, but it was...tough. Brutal, even at times. Seattle, for whatever reason, appears to have a hex on first base and there’s no getting away from that. However, for one night, Adam Lind was able to break the hex in the most extraordinary way.
Entering the game at a perfect .500 (46-46), the M’s had been flirting with going belly-up for more than a month by July 18th. By no means was eight innings of Chris Sale what they needed to break the funk. However, it’s what they got. Eight innings of terrifying arm angles from a giant southpaw who exited his final frame in the eighth inning with a 3-0 lead over the hometown nine.
In the final frame, with Sale surely in line for a win and Dave Robertson on the bump to get a simple save, Franklin Gutierrez singles sharply into center. A man on first and down three runs, Cano replaces Guti at first after a fielder’s choice groundout. One down.
Nellie comes up and walks, Dae-Ho Lee strikes out to make it two down with runners on first and second.
Kyle Seager delivers a two-out single scoring Robi. 3-1 and runners on first and second, again.
Scott Servais makes a decision to pinch-hit the slumping catcher, Chris Iannetta with Adam Lind.
Lind swings wildly at the first pitch he sees.
The Mariners hadn't gone under five-hundred since April 21st. Here was the sure sign that the season was ending now.
Lind swings wildly at the second pitch he sees, too.