The first time was August 4th, 2005. The youngest MLB starting pitcher in 27 years loaded the bases in his very first inning. We watched from a jittery camera streaming choppy video from an impossibly bad angle from the press box. With two outs Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate.
Felix Hernandez struck him out.
Since that day two thousand, one hundred and sixty-one other batters have shared Pudge's fate. No Mariner has ever struck out more batters, and after today no will have struck out as many.
On April 27, 2008 I was fortunate enough to get seats right behind home plate to watch Felix pitch against the A's. In the top of the 2nd his first pitch to Frank Thomas was a ball. He then threw three straight fastballs to strike out him out. The next batter, future-former Mariner Jack Cust, he struck out, also with three straight fastballs. The next batter was Bobby Crosby. Felix threw two fastballs for strikes, and on 0-2, after nine straight heaters he unveiled the Royal Curve.
Crosby was walking back to the dugout before the ball was caught.
He has pitched for Bill Bavasi, Jack Zduriencik, Jerry Dipoto, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, Jim Riggleman, Don Wakamatsu, Darren Brown, Eric Wedge, Lloyd McClendon and Scott Servais.
Through all that, he has pitched for us, and us alone.
He is, through everything, the franchise. I have no idea what the continued loss of velocity and early spike in walks means going forward. I have concerns that he is simply another great pitcher in a league seemingly more full of legendary ones than ever. I do not care.
Perhaps the most important thing, the one thing we should never forget, is that Felix Hernandez had the power and motivation to be one of the greatest pitchers in the history of any of the other twenty-nine teams in baseball. He chose us, time and again, no matter what. Today, the history books will simply reflect what we have all known for years:
Felix Hernandez is the greatest Mariner pitcher of all-time.
Sunshine. Lollipops. Happy Felix Day. Today, and every day.
|SEATTLE MARINERS||LOS ANGELES ANGELS|
|Norichika Aoki - LF||Yunel Escobar - 3B|
|Ketel Marte - SS||Rafael Ortega - LF|
|Robinson Cano - 2B||Mike Trout - CF|
|Nelson Cruz - DH||Albert Pujols - DH|
|Franklin Gutierrez - RF||Kole Calhoun - RF|
|Kyle Seager - 3B||Andrelton Simmons - SS|
|Chris Iannetta - C||Cliff Pennington - 2B|
|Dae-Ho Lee - 1B||Carlos Perez - C|
|Leonys Martin - CF||Ji-Man Choi - 1B|
|Felix Hernandez - RHP||Hector Santiago - LHP|
TV: ROOT, Radio: 710 ESPN, Online: MLB.TV