Yesterday's game was one that I'll remember being at for a long, long time. Sure, we lost, thanks to an inexcusable error from Chris Iannetta and a bloop fly ball home run from Rajai Davis that proves miracles do happen in modern-day America. But that's not what was so remarkable.
Before the game, Nathan asked around on predictions for James Paxton's line. The resulting guess wasn't exactly optimistic.
After dozens of responses the mean is: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 6 K, 4 BB. That is a VERY James Paxton start. At least his #brand is well known.— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) June 6, 2016
And then he did something that nobody, other than James' parents or elementary school teachers, would have predicted. He finished with six innings pitched and 10 strikeouts against just one earned run and one walk, all the while touching triple digits on the stadium radar gun. Wow! That's awesome!
Yet he wasn't the best part of yesterday. Instead, it was a young phenom making his major league debut. I'm talking, of course, about Edwin Diaz, Young Phenom.
Yes, that radar gun says 100 miles per hour. We're talking triple digits here, mere moments into his debut. Of course, he doesn't just throw hard - there's some pretty nasty off-speed to go with it.
You can go look at his stats or try to extract some meaning from this debut. It's early, sure, but I won't fault you for looking at that, even though it's not what I'll take away from last night. Instead, what I will remember most is the atmosphere in the stadium.
Of the 15,824 in attendance last night, it's hard to say how many were diehard fans and how many just wanted a place to hang out with friends. But from my vantage point in the upper deck down the third base line, I noticed Diaz warming up in the bullpen, and my friend and I immediately started geeking out over the possibility of seeing his MLB debut.
Soon after, when he walked in from the bullpen, the crowd was much more excited than for a typical middle reliever. Watching him pray behind the mound before he threw his first fastball, one only wonders what was going through his mind - and what his family was thinking.
Diaz said his father, Edwin Sr., began crying when he told the news about being promoted to the big leagues.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 4, 2016
And then, pure gas.
All in all, the 22-year-old from Puerto Rico threw 11 pitches, 10 for strikes, and looked near-unhittable. Watching him was truly special - from the 101 on the radar gun to his incredible arm action through his motion.
And Safeco seemed to recognize it, with a standing ovation as he exited stage right and with fans standing and cheering the whole inning. Sure, we'd seen great pitching before, whether from James Paxton just the inning before or the many times Felix Hernandez has treated the park and the entire city to his elite arsenal of pitches. But this just felt different, like a legend being born right before us, like the start of a magical career.
For years before his debut, Felix was known as the King, a moniker given because of his electric stuff and an upper-echelon fastball. Since then, obviously, he's lost much of that new-toy sheen, with his fastball dropping to 90.
In other words, it's the perfect time for new royalty to show his face.
Welcome, Prince Edwin. You aren't the King just quite yet, but your debut was undoubtedly royal.