Was it the best the Mariners have played all season? Probably not--that insane comeback in San Diego probably has dibs on any claim to that crown. How about the best game of the season? It could be, perhaps...but I think had you watched it--or hell, had you been one of the nine (twelve, thirteen?) Mariners on the field at Wrigley today--you could easily say that this here game was probably the most fun you've had all season, by a long shot.
First it was Wade Miley--potential trade candidate and six-consecutive-game-loser on the mount set to face the reigning Cy Young award-winner and one of the most terrifying offenses in the entire game. He led off his afternoon by throwing fifteen pitches and striking out the side in the first. Four of those nine strikes were called. He jumped from 89.6 from his first pitch to 91.2 on his last, perhaps thinking that he either had to make himself look appealing to the scouts inevitably in the stands or prove to Jerry and Co. that he still had some juice left in the tank to avoid paying double rent for the next couple of months. What he probably wasn't thinking was that it would be the best game he has ever pitched in his entire career.
Through six and some change it was a classic pitcher's duel, as long as you ignore who were the ones actually doing the dueling. And while Arrieta was certainly doing his part to chainsaw through the Mariners' order, he (still) hadn't won a game for an entire month, giving up twenty runs in the process and having trouble finding that lock-down stuff that kept him at the top of sportscenter throughout all of last summer. But he was still Jake Arrieta, and you could see it today: in the second inning, he promptly induced three groundouts from Shawn O'Malley, Miley, and Aoki on fourteen pitches. Two of them were slower than ~94 MPH, and that was because they were offspeed pitches. In fact, it would be only Martin on the day who had his, or anybody's, number, knocking in the Mariners' first hit of the afternoon in the fourth.
Meanwhile Miley was still dealing, allowing one baserunner in the bottom of the fourth to Kris Bryant, who rocketed a ball to Kyle Seager faster than he knew how to handle. Seager bobbled the ball and Bryant was safe on the play--generously scored an error--but seconds, literally seconds later, Miley picked off Bryant out at first as if to say well ya gimme this one then i'll take it right back. Still no hits and it's the fifth.
By now everyone is starting to get a little nervous. I think in general you come to expect to be surprised by a dominant pitching performance at least once a season. Last year we watched Hisashi Iwakuma blow through the Baltimore Orioles for his first career no-hitter, and you can think of any number of Felix gems through a 2014 season which very well may prove to be his --/sticks fingers in ears LALALA NOT LISTENNINGGGGGGG LALALALALLALA -eason, but so far we have yet to really see the game that seems likely to be remembered once we're watching other teams play baseball in October and wondering why they are talking about football all the time. But then, at about 12:30 in the afternoon, it set in.
Something wasn't right, and not in the typical way that those words smush together in the great state of Washington. Something wasn't right because something actually looked right for once, and it was coming from WADE MILEY, who has been if not consistently average then at the very least probably the last guy on this roster you would have expected this from. MiMo back in June, maybe. At this sad point, even Felix doing this would have been a shock. Meanwhile Cubs writer and all-around-good human Zack Moser from BP Wrigleyville, who was covering this game from the opposite side, shared his thoughts with me on what was unfolding:
However as the spectacle progressed, you kind of knew it was only a matter of time before the Cubs got on the board. In a way, these moments are even more special than no-hitters to me. When Wade Miley was walking off the mound in the sixth inning with 71 pitches, 8 strikeouts, and 0 hits, it didn't matter that you knew he was going to give up a hit the next inning. Probably a run. He'd walk somebody and get tired, and it would all come crashing down. It didn't matter because the point was never for Wade Miley to throw a no-hitter against the best team in baseball today, the point was that Wade Miley, soon to be (?) Baltimore Oriole, had thrown six hitless innings against the best team in baseball. It happened, and nothing we or you can do can go into that great book and erase those lines from the ledger of Time. In thirty years you will tell someone where you were when you saw Felix throw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, and they will nod in tepid interest with your words because they will have heard this story one thousand times from one thousand different people. But then you will tell someone where you were when fucking Wade Miley no-hit the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs before being traded less than 48 hours later, and they will be like wait, seriously? And that is why baseball is the best goddamned sport in the entire universe.
@LookoutLanding if the recap is not titled "Wade Miley Made Wiley at Wrigley Field" I quit— Isabelle (@95coffeespoons) July 30, 2016
(please don't quit)
So yeah, Miley runs into a bit of trouble here in the seventh, as you all expected. After a leadoff walk to Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant wallops a grounder up the middle to put two on, and they are all sent up a base with a Zobrist sac bunt a few moments later. With Javier Baez at the plate, Miley lobs an 82mph changeup in the opposite batter's box which is softly tapped right into O'Malley's glove. Fowler takes off from third to home, and O'Malley quickly lobs the ball home to nab him on the play. Except....well....yeah:
Of course the obnoxious thing to do here is to note that overturning a call on the field, per the rulebook, requires clear and convinccing evidence from the video replay rather than Ooo hey look-sey the replay doesn't help at all but why don't we just let New York decide!? I mean, even listen to the surprise of the Cubs' announcers here: this call probably shouldn't have been messed with, and I'm frankly surprised the Umpire's union isn't more upset about the "clear and convincing evidence" clause in the rulebook. Then again, when you get a chance to blow the very same call in the exact opposite direction to make up for it a few moments later, then, eh, what are you gonna do.
The Mariners managed to get on base against Arrieta in the eighth, following a leadoff walk from Mike Zunino coming back from an 0-2 count (I checked the website, don't worry we are still ok). Arrieta then walked Shawn O'Malley a moment later, and the two runners were sent up with a sac bunt off the bat of relief pitcher Luis Sardinas. Aoki then tried to speed up the runners a moment later, but Guillermo Heredia, running on the paths in place of Mike Z, is called out at the plate. With an out to go, and having burnt through their first reliever off the bench, Hector Rondon, the bespectacled one calls up his newest reliever to the mound, he of the very public controversy and the triple-digit fastball, he of the the Mariners are probably going to lose but wouldn't it be nice to at least have a symbolic victory here?
"TO THE GAP! TO THE GAP! TO THE GAP!"https://t.co/8L2F6bukgO— Mariners (@Mariners) July 30, 2016
Easily one of Sim's best calls since the ice-cream mishap in NY a few years back. Martin even managed to steal third and come around on a passed ball a few moments after this, solidifying the dream that I know so many of you had been dreaming since first hearing about this series with a potential Chapman matchup on the mound. Well now we have it folks, and boy it sure was something.
Diaz ran into a little trouble but managed to sneak out of trouble in the eighth before Cishek closed the door on another Mariners win, this time 4-1 and thankfully at least covering up the madness that was yesterday in the record books. We will be talking about this game more in the next couple of weeks, I know we will. We will be talking about it if the Mariners are good, because it will be the moment that it all maybe started to turn. But most likely we will be talking about it when the Mariners are bad, thinking man, wasn't that fun, realizing that baseball owes us nothing, and we owe it nothing, and sometimes, something wonderful just happens. They don't award rings for that but tell me you'd have it any other way. Take it away, Zack: