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Death To Trying Times

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Franklin Gutierrez Wants You To Feel Better

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
just put one foot in front of the other
Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

Today the Seattle Mariners faced the Boston Red Sox, a team that is just like the Mariners except slightly better in almost every respect. Today the Seattle Mariners faced the team they’re looking up at in all sorts of leaderboards—highest average, most number of extra base hits, the lists go on and on. Today the Seattle Mariners, a team largely assembled by Jerry Dipoto with bits and pieces of other teams’ rosters and bounceback candidates and one player in particular who has faced more adversity with regards to his health than many of us will ever know, faced the offensive powerhouse known as the Boston Red Sox, and came away with a victory.

And it was Franklin Gutierrez, the man who has battled against so much to work his way back to the field, leading the charge. A while back, Meg had us write what we wanted the most for this season, and I wrote about how I wanted Guti to have a spectacular season, for everyone to know his name and his story, outside of our little corner of fandom. Tonight he took a step in that direction. The 35, 896 fans in Boston tonight watched Gutierrez hit two home runs and just miss a grand slam. His first, a two-run shot scoring Ketel Marte hit to dead center, came in the first inning, giving the Mariners an early lead. This next one, from the third inning, probably still hasn’t landed:

In the fourth inning, with two outs, Aoki dropped a parachute flare into shallow LF which scooted Kyle Seager, who had walked on four pitches, over to second. Ketel Marte hit an infield single to load up the bases for Gutierrez. Could he do it again? Would he do it again? It seemed impossible. But then again, so much of Guti’s resurgence has been improbable, implausible. Impossible becomes just another word.

Canó would then crush a double to score Guti and it was 7-0 Mariners. But it says something about the Boston offense that even that lead didn’t feel safe, and sure enough in the fourth David Ortiz did what David Ortizes do and crushed an Iwakuma pitch 400 feet for a two-run homer. Iwakuma was able to work out of the inning, however, despite a Marte error and a single to the always-pesky Travis Shaw. Iwakuma gave the Mariners’ beleaguered bullpen some much-needed relief, keeping his pitch count low by throwing strikes and getting ground outs. He didn’t issue a walk until the 6th inning, and that was to David Ortiz, who is hitting .500 off Iwakuma with three dingers. At that point, however, Kuma had only thrown 76 pitches, 53 for strikes. He ran into a little bit of trouble in the seventh and gave up two runs on some truly annoying hits (an 86 mph cutter lifted off the end of the bat into RF by Shaw; an 88 mph sinker Sandy Leon muscled into CF, then what seemed like a jillion sac flies), but was able to limit the damage and get out of the inning by jamming the always-dangerous Xander Bogaerts and getting him to pop out.

Luckily, the Mariners had added a run in the top of the seventh when Canó took Heath Hembree (who looks exactly like you imagine Heath Hembree to look) 392 feet for his 247th home run as a second baseman.

Big congrats to Robi, and to David Skiba who made this all possible with his relentless drum-beating to the tune of MVP! MVP! (I knew Nathan would regret giving him that drum kit for Christmas.)

David Rollins came in to work the 8th against David Ortiz, because that’s exactly who you want your fresh AAA call-up to get a shot at, in Fenway Park on a Friday night when a storm is threatnin’, as Dave Sims reminded us nearly constantly in the broadcast. But to his credit, David “Henry” Rollins put on his mean face and threw a bunch of lower-middle 90s fastballs to work a 1-2-3 against Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez—who dropped a huge f-bomb on the broadcast after he fouled off a 94 mph fastball right in the middle of the plate, which is now my second-favorite fact about him (first is that his name was supposed to be Hamlet, but the nurse wrote it down wrong)—and Jackie Bradley Junior, who I think swung at every first pitch he saw tonight, to no avail. Rollins walked off the field while the fans did the wave behind him, face inscrutable.

Rollins came back out to work the bottom of the ninth but ran into some bad batting luck, because Fenway Park is hell’s lobster pound afloat in the River Styx. Chris Young hit a looper for a base hit on a 92 mph fastball high in the zone, then Shaw flew out to Aoki on almost the same pitch. Then Sandy Leon hit the most ANNOYING chopper single that jumped right over DHL’s head because that ball ain’t got no strings to hold it down and Servais decided it was time to let Cishek sell some seashells down in Hahvahd Yahd am I doing this right? ROOT had started the pregame show with Cishek talking in that wide-eyed wonderment way he does about how much he admires Ortiz and is scared to pitch to him, because Steve Cishek is physically unable to lie, why you gonna sell him out like that ROOT? Anyway, so Ortiz is looming, so Cishek has to take care of business with the next two batters. He gets Mookie Betts to hit a grounder to Marte that is a double play if anyone other than Mookie Usain Betts is running down the line. But alas. The next batter was professional baseball player/rabbit in a waistcoat Dustin Pedroia, he of the miniscule strike zone. When the umpire did dare call a strike on Pedroia, the long-suffering Boston-area sports fans booed lustily. When the ump called another strike, he was again booed most lustily. Will no one take into account the feelings of the long-suffering Boston-area sports fans? Here are those boo-able pitches, for your edification:

But then, baseball gods be praised, Pedroia sent a grounder to Marte, who fielded it cleanly and the game was over, much to the delight of Scott Servais and his newly-minted GrinchSmirk:

ship this up to Boston, you fahks

This was fun. Let’s do it again tomorrow.

(goms)