Before the bottom of the seventh inning tonight, this is the direction my recap was heading.
After the bottom of the seventh, I was feeling much more like our dear friend Guillermo here.
But, let’s back things up a bit first.
Félix Hernández, even at his peak, has always had issues with getting through the first inning unscathed. Many pitchers do. Sometimes it’s hard to get into a groove. Sometimes you just don’t have the feel for the ball. Félix, bless his heart a million times over, didn’t really have it tonight and the first inning was a sadly familiar sight as he proceeded to give up three runs and look rather flustered while doing so. But, Félix did his damnedest to limit further damage through the rest of his six innings. He gave up one more run on a double that Víctor Martínez hit over Ben Gamel’s head in the fifth inning, but he kept the game from completely spiraling out of reach. It breaks my heart that I’m damning Félix with faint praise here, but that is the state of our King in 2018. I don’t like it and you don’t like it, but here we are.
A Félix start like this would have absolutely resulted in a loss in most seasons. But, in 2018, things are bit different through these first 2 months of baseball for these Seattle Mariners. Four runs is not insurmountable on many nights for this lineup, even while missing All-Star Robinson Canó. These Mariners are swing-happy and they can score runs happily.
But anyways, back to the part where things were looking grim as hell. The Detroit Tigers are officially this season’s 2010-2014 Chicago White Sox, as in they are the not-great team that are just going to torment the Mariners this season. Last week’s utter debacle of a weather-delayed series was annoying and bad. Mariners fans were ready for some dang payback with a four game series at home coming up, but then the team didn’t really show up last night and through six innings tonight they looked like Confused John Travolta Dot Gif in baseball form. Beardy starter Michael Fulmer absolutely cruised through those six innings with just 68 pitches and the Maddux Alert started blaring in the back of my brain.
Dan Altavilla AKA Quadzilla played his “fireman” role to the fullest and pitched a brilliant top of the seventh as he retired the side 1-2-3 and hit 98 mph with ease. Glad to have you back, Good Alt.
That brings us to the most exciting part of the night: the bottom of the seventh. This is where things went sideways for Mr. Fulmer. Nelson Cruz (he’s back!) and Kyle Seager drew back-to-back walks. Ryon Healy grounded out, but advanced both runners. Then ol’ Benny Ballgame himself strutted up to the plate and slapped himself a ground ball right up the middle for two runs. Fulmer gets chased. There is much rejoicing.
A real human being named Buck Farmer comes in and continues to walk batters, as Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia both take their places on the bases. Another real human being named Daniel Stumpf takes Buck’s place and promptly gives up a sacrifice fly to Dee Gordon. 4-3, Detroit. Okay, then.
Yet another real human being named WARWICK SAUPOLD (seriously gameday you are fucking with me) takes the mound and surrenders the tying run off a single from Jean Segura. Mitch Haniger follows up with a double that brings Heredia home for the go-ahead run.
Yup, this team can hit.
Juan Nicasio was summoned once again to protect a one run lead in the eighth inning and thankfully he did just that. He may or may not be morphing into 2009 David Aardsma, but as long as those utterly cranked balls aren’t leaving the stadium, then I guess we’ll be okay?
Edwin Díaz came in to close out the top of the ninth. What a joy he has been to watch this season. He’s had a couple stumbles, but when he is on point, it’s just hilarious to watch batters attempt to even touch his stuff. He was somewhere in between tonight, but it was more than enough to take care of the Tigers.
After giving up a lead-off hit to James McCann, he promptly and definitely unintentionally threatened José Iglesias’s life.
Iglesias would subsequently line out to Ben Gamel. Then Mike Zunino decided to get in on the highlight action with this absolute dagger of a put-out at second base.
At this point, Edwin decided the Tigers had been given enough yarn to play with and it was time to shut it down.
Comeback wins are fun. Comeback wins where Felix Hernandez struggles mightily and gets a no decision are weird, but are pretty much our new normal. Another new normal is winning a surprising amount of games that in many seasons past would have been obvious losses. Please join me as I use wins and scoring runs as a shield of denial against the dull blade of time and wear-and-tear. The 2018 Mariners may take us for a ride just yet.
Special shoutout to the Maple Grove folks who did a one-off King’s Grove tonight with special “K’eh” cards and everything. I’m genuinely happy that this group’s enthusiasm was rewarded with a win tonight. Go Mariners.