Well folks, they've done it. The Mariners have swept the Angels and leapfrogged the Houston Astros for sole possession of second place in the AL West, and they did it all by starting whatever a Mike Freeman is and only requiring two outs from the bullpen. A few quick thoughts before you enjoy the rest of your (hopefully) fine Sunday evening.
Unfortunately the thing probably most deserving of your attention--at least before medical results roll in--is the fate of James Paxton. Paxton was on the mound in the top of the ninth inning today. He was riding a pretty steep pitch count, but nevertheless carried six strikeouts without a single earned run into the final frame. In a year where injuries have utterly decimated a starting rotation which could be nails in an alternate universe, it has been Paxton who has stepped up to the table, pounded his fists a few times, and then blurted through an expressionless gaze I got this one. What did he have today? Well....how about a golden sombrero to Mike Trout?
This here is Mike Trout's fourth strikeout of the game, coming in the top of the eighth inning as Paxton crossed the one-hundred-pitch threshold. That's right, the first pitch of this at-bat here was pitch 101. Look at how fast pitch three was. I don't really have anything more to say about this, except for the fact that no other pitcher in the majors has ever struck out Mike Trout four times in a single game. No other pitcher has ever struck out Mike Trout three times in a single game twice either, nor has anyone done that a single time. O Canada.
However as great as Paxton was on the afternoon he had to be pulled in the ninth after taking an Andrelton Simmons comebacker right on his throwing elbow. It looked like this:
Yikes. I'm sure we'll hear about the big guy's status in a matter of moments--knowing my luck probably one second before I hit 'Publish' on this article--but without Paxton this recent hot streak might amount to nothing more than the unrecorded fifth verse from Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," which please buddy please, please be ok.
But it would be revisionist history to claim that this victory was anything but a great cap to end Griffey Weekend here at Safeco as the M's play for one of their most important Augusts in recent years. The Angels got on the board first, in the third, after Shane Robinson reached on a routine grounder bobbled by Shawn O'Malley, and eventually scored on a Pujols single a few moments later. But then, in the bottom of the fourth, the M's had their moment.
First it was Seth Smith, who took one look at a Matt Shoemaker fastball before flipping it right back up the middle for a base hit. He was followed by Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, who scored Smith with a line drive, and all of a sudden the bases were loaded for Leónys Martin after Adam Lind pulled of his best Mike Zunino impression and got hit by a pitch (Zunino, btw, is climbing back up that leaderboard). Then, the pitch, a behemoth sound off the bat, and fifty thousand eyes all pointed out past the fence. And then Mike Trout.
There's a yankeesfans.gif waiting to be written about this, but I'll leave that for another day.
Big Tom managed to shut it down after Paxton was pulled in the ninth, and this--fine, impressive and amazing catch from the once-in-a-generation Mike Trout wouldn't be enough to rain on what looks to be an otherwise exciting and ongoing parade out of the Mariners dugout. But while the action starts up again tomorrow with the Tigers in town, we should take this moment to think about all that has happened this weekend, on, and off the field, and just be thankful that even if the baseball gods have been rough to us over the years, even if these fans didn't stop the superhuman Mike Trout from making an Enjoyable Baseball Play, we still get to say we had two of the best baseball men of all time play for our team. Case in point:
may the biz roll on