On a day when most TVs in the Seattle area were tuned to the Seahawks opener or the Storm playoff game—a thriller that I briefly abandoned my post to watch the final five minutes of—the Mariners willed their way into yet another one-run win, their 35th of the season, tying a club record. Edwin Díaz recorded his 54th save, which moved him into 5th place on the all-time list. Mitch Haniger rewarded disaffected Seahawks fans who flipped over in the ninth by single-handedly manufacturing the go-ahead run in the 9th and then ending the game on a spectacular diving catch. The Mariners are frustrating more often than not, lately, but it was nice to see them hold their own on a sports-overload day and provide a last burst of summer sunshine as the clouds of fall begin to encroach.
Erasmo Ramirez pitched better than his line might suggest; after giving up back-to-back doubles to Stanton and Andujar in the first to give the Yankees an early one-run lead, “Mito” settled down and really started mixing his pitches, inducing a lot of soft contact and easy flyouts. In his postgame interview, Erasmo seemed both pleased and relieved that he was able to keep the Yankees in the ballpark, as he should be. He didn’t get much help, either, as Jean Segura made yet another error, and in the fourth he was the victim of some poor batted ball luck, as three softly-hit balls loaded the bases, and a questionable call by HP umpire Jeremie Rehak that instead turned what should have been a called strike three on McCutcheon into a bases-loaded walk to give the Yankees the lead. That’s all the Yankees would get, though, and Seattle’s bullpen did its job today to shut things down after Erasmo departed after six strong innings. Shawn Armstrong continued to make a bid to be the middle-innings guy, giving up a leadoff double but then recording two outs on a strikeout and an easy flyout. Zach Duke then managed to get his man out to end the inning and the Yankee threat. Nick Vincent worked a very nice 1-2-3 inning in the seventh but Alex Colome wobbled some, walking the sub-Mendoza-line-hitting Gary Sanchez and then throwing two wild pitches to allow pinch-runner Tyler Wade to advance to third. After getting Gleyber Torres to ground out, Colomé managed to escape the inning without damage, but it wasn’t a comfortable feeling.
In the eighth inning, Cali boy Mitch Haniger sniffed the air and decided to single-handedly stave off fall. He worked a walk off Dellin Betances, who threw him four pitches that weren’t even within the bounds of this time-space continuum let alone the strike zone, and then stole second with this nifty swim move:
For a team that was supposed to be threatening on the bases, the M’s have been pretty poor out there, so it’s great to see some actual base-running acumen. Mitch, please, teach your teammates. I am begging you.
Segura then sacrificed Mitch to third, and the Mariners gambled on the contact play (what I like to call “the Divish special”). Canó hit a ball sharply to Hechavarria, who scooped, threw home, and Haniger eluded Austin Romine’s tag with another incredible slide.
we don't deserve mitch haniger dot gif pic.twitter.com/HtlE6xmzRB— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 9, 2018
In the ninth, Edwin Díaz cruised through his first two batters, retiring Didi Gregorius on a routine groundout and striking out an extremely salty Brett Gardner who thought he knew the strike zone better than HP umpire Jeremie Rahek.
It was a strike, Brett pic.twitter.com/iNPWgqpNYD— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 10, 2018
But because nothing can be easy, in an 1-2 count Díaz grazed McCutcheon’s jersey to put the tying run on first with Giancarlo Stanton up. Stanton, sending shatters of his bat ten rows deep, hit a soft fly that looked like it was set to die like the M’s playoff hopes in shallow right center. But Mitch Haniger will not go gently into that good night:
The days are getting shorter and cooler; tonight is the new moon as we work towards the harvest moon later this month. Halloween candy lines grocery store aisles and the red and green of Christmas is starting to filter in here and there. The dark, cold months are coming. But today Mitch Haniger shined a little bit of California sunshine across the Northwest, something to look back on in the lean and baseball-less winter months. Bless you, Mitch.