Tonight is a night for appreciating imperfection.
Earlier this week the Mariners honored the most memorable teams in franchise history with an offensive explosion that ended in the second highest scoring series by a team in Safeco Field history. Tonight the Mariners honored the late 2000s teams that could scarcely make contact, but were kept in the game by excellent pitching. Sometimes both were enough to win, and, thankfully, tonight, emulating the latter brought them a 3-2 victory.
The A’s did their part, producing little with multiple opportunities, and following Stephen Vogt’s lead.
This was not a game the A’s lost, however. The Mariners won it. Specifically, a few Mariners took charge.
Hisashi Iwakuma was not good enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who currently lead their division by 4.5 games. He was too old, too frail, and they did not believe in him.
The team with a payroll of ~$270 million thought the Old Bear wasn’t worth it.
They were wrong.
It was suggested by LL staff tonight that Kuma is deserving of some chocolate, perhaps a bouquet, and definitely some candles from the rest of the pitching staff. Iwakuma allowed just 2 runs and did not allow the A’s to sneak a win away while the Mariners offense scuffled. Hisashi went 6.2 innings into this game, which occurred on September 9th. It was the first time a Mariners starter had surpassed the 6 inning mark since Iwakuma did it on September 4th. The most recent non-Kuma starter to make it past 6 innings was Taijuan Walker on August 28th, in a 4-1 loss.
Let us appreciate Hisashi Iwakuma.
Norichika Aoki, who has deserved a great deal of criticism this year in the field and on the , but has also hit .313/.358/.424 in the 2nd half, and added his second home run of the season tonight which proved to be crucial.
Aoki has been a disappointment, let’s make no bones about it, but even players with underwhelming seasons can provide a spark (cough Adam Lind cough).
Let us appreciate Norichika Aoki.
Mike Zunino has cooled off. His value, while still excellent for his brief season, has receded below that of Chris Iannetta (who has, in fairness, played in nearly 3 times as many games). His defense stands alongside Klimt as always, but Texas flummoxed him, and his contact has plummeted. That is not important tonight, because Mike Zunino found a pitch he could contact, and he caused it to contact the padding beyond the wall in center field.
This, chronologically, proved to be the winning run. Mike Zunino went 1-8 against Texas. Tonight, he was 1-3 with a home run and the Mariners won because of him.
Let us appreciate Mike Zunino.
This is a team that is overflowing with personality and fun, and is talented enough to maybe make something happen, but at least make us care right now. Look at the calendar. The Seahawks play this Sunday, roughly a 36 hours from when this will be posted. The Mariners still matter. That is not spectacular, but it is really damn nice. We all want to be successful, to win. This team has made me happier than any team I’ve watched since 2003, and, while it sure would enhance my joy, that will not change whether they make the playoffs or not. I hope everyone who loves this team like we all do, to some degree at least, can feel the same sentiment I do right now.
Let us appreciate the Seattle Mariners.