Not every fairy tale has a happy ending, but this story may not might not even be concluded. Félix Hernández knows that, as do the thousands of fans who still made the trek to a more familiarly empty Safeco Field Wednesday night. As The King allowed solo homers in each of his first two innings, I wonder if he considered the state he found himself in. I wonder if his mind wandered to the man who conducted the night’s ceremonial first pitch?
Hisashi Iwakuma, with a familiar smile across his face, jogged out to deliver the first pitch to his 2012 teammate and Mariners’ 2018 Opening Day starting Left Fielder, Ichiro Suzuki. Kuma’s fairy tale came to an end in the U.S. this year, although the mortal blow was dealt in the Spring of 2017 when the 37-year-old RHP manifested back and shoulder issues that put his velocity in the realm of a varsity high schooler. The No. 1 and No. 2 of the 2013-2015 Mariners were the draw tonight, but they each looked like men three years removed from greatness. Unfortunately, one of them had hitters standing in the box against him.
To say it was a disastrous start for Félix would be unfair. In relation to previous implosions this year, it was an underwhelming outing, but not catastrophic. I recently expressed condolences to Designated Rangers Fan Friend of LL, Levi Weaver, that he somehow had ended up watching over half a season of Yovani Gallardo in the year Two Thousand and Eighteen, but Félix has well and truly been a Yovani-replacement in a role nobody hoped to see reprised.
Tonight, at least, his line was exacerbated by his successor, Chasen Bradford, screwing the pooch about as badly as the pooch can be screwed. To distance myself from that metaphor I’ve laid for myself, I can offer a fun fact. The Mariners had only allowed one grand slam prior to tonight’s all season. The previous one came way back in March, against Cleveland, when Yonder Alonso took James Paxton deep in the top of the 1st, and it felt right and truly deflating. The Mariners would go on to lose that game 6-5, as teams often do when they allow grand slams, and tonight’s 9-3 result felt appropriate for the product provided.
An Andrew Romine triple was among the highlights tonight, alongside Nick Rumbelow working a clean inning and a third. The peak of the game was seeing Ben Gamel tee off on Edwin Jackson, nearly logging a Grand Salami of his own.
Sadly, like so many of Oakland’s opponents, while their starters were pressured early, Seattle failed to obliterate the meager opening hurlers, falling prey to both a Swarm of Matts and the September length of the A’s bullpen. The M’s finish their season series with Oakland at 10-9 with an 85-84 edge in run differential, but that is what the Swedes call “cold comfort”.
All that remains is Texas, and winter. 86-72 means Seattle is two wins away from their best record since 2007, three wins from their best record since 2003, and four wins from only their 6th 90-win season in franchise history. The fairy tale has ended, and the usher is sweeping up the pixie dust from the aisle. Perhaps we can pocket a bit before we go.