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We have liftoff

Or, Houston has a problem named Cano

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Bob Levey/Getty Images

Wade Miley had done everything that was needed of him for the Mariners to win. He danced delicately enough around Laz Diaz's inexplicable strikezone and Jose Altuve to exit the game down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Wade, following his complete game, shutout his last time out, continued the steady trend from last week. He worked quickly, always quickly, and despite the lead off home run from Altuve to open the bottom of the first, avoided the Big Inning. His first walk, and he'd end with two, came in the sixth. Beyond that Altuve solo blast and an Evan Gattis RBI single, Miley owned the hill. Yet, he'd walk off it in place for a loss, down one run headed into the seventh.

It's never easy the first time facing a new pitcher, and Chris Devenski took full advantage of his freshness. In his post-game comments, Robinson Cano, yes, that Robinson Cano, claimed that Chris had one of the best change ups he's ever seen. The M's were a little off-center at the plate all game because of it. Coming off a travel day, an emotional finale to a three-game sweep in Oakland, you couldn't fault them for jogging out a 3-1 loss. They'd won fourteen of the last nineteen. Devenksi twirled six one-run innings allowing one walk and striking out six. You can't win every single game. But, you can sure as hell try.

Houston, among its many problems, has a bullpen that is the dumpster equivalent of the shit that didn't make it in. The shit that even the raccoons skip over. Essentially, the McDonald's Fish Filet wrappers, two-thirds used Taco Bell mild hot sauce packets, and a pair of toe shoes rotting, covered in a fungi out of the Phallaceae family throws pitches for the Lastros whenever their starter decides the humidity is enough. The M's, despite being down by a run in the seventh, always had a chance.

Ken Giles came into pitch the seventh for the home team. He promptly walked Chris Iannetta. Ketel Marte would then proceed to leg out an infield single and after a fielder's choice on a bad bunt by Leonys Martin and a walk to Norichicka Aoki, Seth Smith walked up to the plated with bases loaded and one out. The single to right field off his piece of lumber, hewn from chicory wood found in the swamps of Seewee, South Carolina, would plate two. The M's left their turn in the seventh with their first lead of the game, up 3-2.

Did I mention Jose Altuve? I think I did before. Well, he had himself a little night. When he stepped up to bat in the Lastros side of the seventh, Houston had managed runners on first and second with only one out. Altuve, already with three hits, then drove a center-cut, 90mph fastball from Nick Vincent 420' to dead center. It didn't leave the yard, since, you know, this team has a fucking ligament-tearing hill in play. Jason Castro was thrown out trying to plate a second run off of a phenomenal relay from Leonys to Ketel to Iannetta. Castro was out by ten feet. The game was tied again.

The eighth, with the game knotted at three to three, would pass without any change in the scoring column.

...

Now, the ninth inning, with the game tied and the sails somewhat beaten down after losing the lead, has a certain feeling for us gathered here. We know what happens in a close game to the Seattle Mariners. The obscenely bad record is there for all of us to see. Sure, winning close games has an element of luck to it. Yet, there must be something beyond luck that has kept us down for so long. The die were weighted, the coin two-faced. Some sort of trick kept letting the house keep the cash. We always left the ninth sobered from a night of drunken love. Like a boxer without enough reach, or a fish with one bad fin, we always felt like easy prey. That's what losing does. It creeps into your mind, convinces you of the negative result before it's happened. It takes years to wash away. Sometimes, it takes fifteen of them.

...

Luke Gregerson got the call for the Lastros in the ninth. Bear in mind, Houston had just won two games in a row for the first time all season, they need a hot streak and fast if they want to gain any semblance of their preseason shine. Three wins in a row felt like a mountain last week, yet here they stood, so near the peak of the climb. Gregerson would face 8, 9, and 1 in the M's order. To his credit, it all started quite well for him when Ketel Marte opened the inning going down swinging. One out. Up walked Leonys Martin.

Still working his way out of a slump, Leonys was looking to make contact early, and managed so, singling sharply into left field. The M's were in business, but more importantly, the M's had speed on first. Aoki stepped up to the plate, and after Martin swiped second, walked. Runners on first and second for Seth Smith with one out. Wait for it.

Smith singled into right, so sharply hit at George Springer and his cannon-arm that Martin was held at third. Bases loaded, one man down, for Robinson Cano.

...

There was a time in late November when I was forced to address rumors about Robbie. Thanks to a former coach and an East Coast publication, we were treated to offseason pieces such as this:

He was an all-too-easy target for those looking to find a reason behind last season's collapse. The exact reason that nobody should ever believe in the Mariners having success. A totem of all Mariner futility, that this team had a losing culture, and was paying yet another former superstar to ride into the sunset in Seattle, taking paychecks the whole way. The Mariners were never going to win because the Mariners always paid players like Robinson Cano. With him, it was never about winning. If it was, why did he leave New York? Maybe they'd take him back, if he was lucky.

...

Robinson Cano, with one down and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, watched the first offering from Gregerson go by. A ball. The count was 1-0. A fly ball would do it, a bloop. He just needed to get something out of the infield.

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