Though my heart beats to the drum and tune of the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles is, and always will be, one of the largest parts of my identity. I spent the first quarter-century of my life there, growing up on the east side, where you couldn’t throw a stone without hitting an above-average, or at least decent, Mexican meal. Once I was on my own, I moved to the westside, just across the street from the Tar Pits, a block away from where Biggie Smalls was shot, in the midst of all the Hollywood hullabaloo.
My move to Seattle has been recent. I’ve only been here a little over three weeks and it goes without saying, that the Mariners playing against the Angels, in Angel Stadium, located NOT IN LA but in the adjacent county, would bring back some fond memories of my time in SoCal; or at least cause me to meditate on my move to the PNW as a whole.
The broadcast opened with a shot of the Hollywood sign, the sight I’d see every morning as I stepped outside of my home on Genesee Avenue in the latter part of my tenure in the City of Angels. The sign, a landmark of La La Land, is visible from many parts of Los Angeles, but definitely not visible from Orange County.
Over in the OC, the only signs the M’s were seeing were coming from the dugout. To begin the game, the Mariners mostly saw quick fastballs in the zone by Jaime Barría, the Angels’ starter. Barría was able to put away Gordon and Segura quickly, with flyouts to left and right field, respectively. Mitch Haniger, up at the plate as the third batter of the night, swung at a wince-inducing high fastball to end the inning on a strikeout.
Where Barría came in throwing his fastballs, Marco Gonzales came in with his craftiness, using his full repertoire of pitches and all parts of the zone. Gonzales was able to induce a flyball to Ben Gamel to retire David Fletcher. Four pitches later, Andrelton Simmons just scratched a groundball to an alert Kyle Seager, who was able to gun him out at first base. Despite, his defense backing him up, Marco Gonzales, who is allowed to be selfish, struck out Mike Trout on a foul tip, needing only four pitches in cutter-sinker sequence to do so.
The M’s and the Angels continued to be silenced offensively throughout the game until David Freitas came up to the plate in the third inning. The scene was simple; two outs, 9th hitter. Freitas had been 0-for-7 since returning to the squad on Saturday, so expectations were low, and the game had seen little offense. With that in mind, Freitas took his liberties, took a first pitch fastball and swung mightily. The ball flew and carried and nearly ended up in the home run stealing snares of Mike Trout, but ended up landing juuuuust off of Trout’s glove to award Freitas his career-first home run.
The next inning began with a double and a hit batsman, effectively putting Jean and Mitch on base with no outs, and bringing up a Nelson Cruz eager for some RBI reaping. After a couple of balls way outside, including a wild pitch that placed both runners in scoring position, Cruz was able to put the barrel on an 85 mph slider in the corner and sent it rolling and screaming up the middle, allowing his fellow All-Stars safely make their way home for two runs batted in.
The sixth inning began similarly, but in reverse. Jean Segura lead-off the inning and was hit in the shoulder by Barría, and after, Mitch was able to get a base hit. Noting the two All-Stars on base and the third one making his way to the batter’s box, Mike Scioscia took the opportunity to remove Barría from the game and bring in Cam Bedrosian. Unlike the previous instance, where Cruz was able to bring in two runs, Nelson ended up grounding into a double play.
This instance, where Nelson found himself in situation similar to one just two innings earlier, reminded me of the circumstances I find myself in now. I’ll be honest, I’m frightened, having moved to a completely new city and leaving all, or most, of my past behind me. What if my situation in LA was a better one? What if LA was my RBI double, and now, in this new Seattle situation, I’m set to ground into a double play?
Luckily, the game was not quite over yet and got me thinking straight, or at least distracting me. Marco continued his excellence throughout his start, allowing only two hits in the fourth inning (to Simmons and Trout) but being perfect the rest of his way through his seven innings pitched.
In the eighth inning, David Freitas made his way onto the basepaths with a leadoff walk. Dee Gordon quickly scribbled in a single to follow him. After a popout by Jean and a strikeout by Mitch Haniger, Nelson Cruz made his way up to the plate for the fourth time in the game.
Once again, Cruz was up to bat with batters on first and second.
Like the two instances beforehand, this third instances was similar as a whole, but different in detail, and yielded much different results. Where Nelson Cruz, singled his first time with two men on, and grounded into a double play in his second, this third instance resulted in a hit by pitch. The bases were loaded up for Kyle Seager, who was almost able to crush a liner into the gap in left-center, but unfortunately Kole Calhoun sprinted his way there to snab the out. No runs scored, but the M’s were still up 3-0.
But these instances with Nellie, where he entered the batter’s box in similar situations, kept reinforcing my apprehensions and thoughts about my decision to move. I feel that I’m in a similar situation to the one I was in before, back in LA, and I’m still frightened at what will result in this move.
But I know I can’t keep thinking that way. When I lived in LA, my only glimpses of live action Mariners were in Angel Stadium. Last year, I saw Marco start a game in my native soil of SoCal; he went four innings and gave up two runs. The M’s ended up losing that game after a rally by the Angels, much to the pleasure of my brother-in-law, a noted Dodgers-renouncer turned Angels fan. At that point, it was same old Mariners, same old Mario.
Now, in Seattle, I’ve been able to go to Safeco Field and watch Marco pitch his first complete game. Today, I was able to watch him go 7.0 innings where he allowed only two hits and struck out four batters. I got to see Colomé get out of a jam and Edwin Díaz close out the game by taking Mike Trout to a full count and getting him to flyout to center.
Maybe that’s what I have to focus on. Its not the situations themselves, but how we evolve through them. The results do matter, but its not each single plate appearance that will define who we are. Sure, Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play after having the perfect opportunity to score, but it is also thanks to his RBIs that the Mariners won the game. The team as a whole, has evolved as everything does with the passage of time.
I have to consider, that I’m not the same person I was in LA, as similar as I may feel, just as these Mariners aren’t the same team I saw play in Angel Stadium last September.
The Mariners have changed for the better this year.
I’m hoping to do the same.