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Mariners walk off the White Sox after Austin Jackson gets long-awaited revenge

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The Mariners beat the White Sox on Friday, 5-4. Austin Jackson hit a grand slam in the seventh. Felix was fine.

"soon austin. soon"
"soon austin. soon"
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It is August 15th, 2014. You are getting off work, waiting for the bus, stuck in the I-5 slowdown, I don't know, something like that. Boy, wonder how those Mariners are doing you think. They are hovering a good number of games above .500 for the first time since the early years of the Bush administration. You pop out your phone--just for a second, it won't hurt anybody--and the brakelights illuminate your face as you read:

  • Felix Hernandez, 6IP, 3K, 0R, 0ER
  • Austin Jackson, seventh-inning come-from-behind grand slam to put his team up two runs
  • Nelson Cruz, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth, only moments away from an ostensible easy victory by the opposing team.
Isn't that some weird shit right there? I mean all of those things happened during today's why-are-we-still-here spring training game, and aside from the fact that it isn't August, boy...what a crazy couple of years. So sure, it's 2016 and my little rhetorical play is exposed from the second you read it, but just step back for a second and think about it. This rebuild, or whatever it is, could have gone a thousand different ways. Jack Z could have signed Robinson Cano that December, and then it could have all unfolded exactly how a) everyone thought it was going to, and b) it frankly probably should have. I mean, Endy Chavez! ENDY CHAVEZ!

That 2014 season is, in retrospect, probably the most important Mariners season since 2001. Or 2008 I guess, depending on how you want to look at it. But the fact of the matter is that we can sit here today and joke about Felix Hernandez, Austin Jackson, and Nelson Cruz being on either side of this franchise only because 2014 went as well as it did. Because if it didn't...well Felix would probably still be here, but Jack Z wouldn't, and Jerry Dipoto would not either. Austin Jackson would have never been a Seattle Mariner, which might sound fine in your book but please let me finish this thought experiment. Nelson Cruz would probably be on the Padres or something, and who knows if the new GM extends Kyle Seager, trades Taijuan, blows up whatever was the core at the time, and watches Cano do the A-rod-in-Texas thing for ten years.

Instead, it's funny today. Felix Hernandez came out and for the most part worked on his changeup, throwing in the upper eighties and mixing in his curve with the rare 90mph fastball here and there. He earned three strikeouts, and he threw eighty pitches in six, which is just classic 30-year-old-ace-turning-the-page-on-an-era stuff. But Justin De Fratus, who passed waivers after being released by the M's only to wind up with an insurance deal valid in Cheney, ran into trouble after taking the ball from the King in the next inning. With two outs and a man on, De Fratus gave up back-to-back walks in only ten pitches to Dioner Navarro and Adam Eaton. Then, Former Mariner Great Austin Jackson did this thing:


There is so much uncomfortable subtext here, in fact you can't even quite call it subtext. It's just out there, slapping you in the face. Text. De Fratus had been struggling in that slow-burn kind of way--you know, you've seen it happen a thousand times. The bases start to fill up. The pitches start missing their targets in incremental inches, matching the rise in anxiety like cars circling the last lap. One inch. Two. Then a curveball nibbles the corner. Three inches.

De Fratus throws a one-two pitch.

/crack

jack1

SIMS: Breaking balllll hit a lawnnnnnnnnnggggggg wayyyyy...it ain't coming back

wait

/long silence

ajax1
SIMS: Grand slam, Austin Jackson...he hung one...and it got banged out of here.

/more awkward long silence

/so much awkward silence

/please for the love of god somebody talk

defrat1

/a great dim roar from out the void, crystals of unspoken words freezing in the air, unheard

/silence

SIMS, AGAIN: .....uh...grand slam for Austin Jackson.

defrat2

This here "banger" to use Sims' word put the M's down two and threatened to ruin an ever-important spring training win for Felix, who got ahead by two early after some productive but lucky sequencing in the first following a wild-pitch strikeout to Kyle Seager and a fielding error which let Guti reach base to put the M's up two. Luckily, however, Nelson Cruz was there to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with this:


And then, before canning the whole thing as a wash before heading home, Leonys Martin decided to get in on the action with his first(EDIT: SECOND I HAVE WATCHED VERY MANY BASEBALL) as a Mariner to walk the whole thing off:


The M's are back at tomorrow with Wade Miley on the mound set to face the Dodgers. Nine more days and we* will be free from this hellscape that follows us like a shadow, set down deep into the sand.

*not applicable to Justin De Fratus**

**I'm sure you're lovely please don't hate me