It was all there, the good and the bad. There were clutch strikeouts by the pitching staff and headscratching at bats by professional hitters. There was a crucial throw by Mike Zunino to nail Dalton Pompey stealing and the offense went 1-8 with runners in scoring position. Félix Hernández went seven shutout innings in a game the Mariners needed him more than any other this season. The Mariners hitters subsequently struck out 14 times. What a miserable game it was.
What a necessary win.
This game is unlikely to spur an emotional shift from a fan base that spent ~36 of the 40 innings in this series curled up in a ball, trying to drown out the noise of the strangers in their own house. As the unwelcome visitors drunkenly reveled, smashing glasses and knocking over lamps, we remembered why it was we closed our hearts so quickly. Entering today’s game, we couldn’t even reasonably expect Félix to save us. We wanted a win, but it takes time to heal what happened this past six days. This game was, I think Dave Sims rightly said, something the Mariners needed for themselves, more than anything.
They needed Jesús Sucre to go 3-3 and turn the blooper luck tide. They needed Norichika Aoki to follow his lead, and drop in a
double single in the five square feet of outfield that Kevin Pillar could not catch it. They needed Seth Smith to make the catch of his life, trading, as Isabelle put it, at least three weeks of defensive ineptitude for one stellar over the shoulder snag. They needed Mike effing Freeman, MLB shortstop, to make the play of his life on a line drive by Pillar that would have given the Blue Jays the winning run.
They needed their King. He did not falter.
"It's my house!!!!" Atta kid Felix. Tell em! pic.twitter.com/sWpcVIETv9— Dick Fain (@dickfain) September 21, 2016
Félix was not “back.” He was, however, as sharp as he has looked in a while, with just two hits and three walks allowed. He made it seven shutout innings for the first time since the 29th of April against the Royals. Edwin Díaz blew the lead in the 9th as Joey Bats unleashed a mammoth home run and bat flip combo like a finishing move from Tekken. The Mariners’ bullpen and hitters seemed to be ready to let down the King again, and yet somehow, within the depths of his beard, Nick Vincent dug deep for a pre-DL Nick Vincent performance, somehow holding Bautista, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, Melvin Upton, Ryan Goins, and Kevin Pillar to two scoreless innings.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t revolutionary. It was, however, a win, and a lousy win tastes a lot better than a lousy loss. A walkoff Robbie sac fly was enough today. Twins are up next, and that can’t be worse than this was. Let’s win some more.